Adaptable Open Source
Cost savings are still the primary driver for organizations choosing open-source software, according to Jay Lyman, an analyst at The 451 Group. However, that impression seems to change after adoption, when more users report that flexibility is the primary benefit they enjoy rather than cost savings, he says.
"With the downspin of the economy, how you spend your money is critically important," says Bassim Hamadeh, founder of University Readers, which uses SugarCRM software. "But beyond saving money, what we look for is better software." SugarCRM offers enough flexibility that when the IT team wants to add a feature to the Web site, it first considers creating it in SugarCRM.
"It's not a closed-circuit environment," Hamadeh says.
Troy Stone, CIO for Lehigh County, Pa., agrees that the benefit of open source is its balance between cost and flexibility. "The platform we chose increased our capabilities versus commercially available products, and it did so within a scope of cost that was reasonable versus commercially available products," he says.
Adds Jon Brisbin, portal webmaster at NPC International, "Flexibility is the most important thing that we realize from open source, but being realistic, cost is right up there as a close second." By flexibility, Brisbin says he means the ability to "take an application and mangle it if we have to -- take a standard install and rip out the guts and do all kinds of weird stuff and make it fit our environment."