Welcome!

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud

Open Source Cloud: Article

How Do You Sell Open Source to Management?Manage two little words: "Fear" and "Greed"

How Do You Sell Open Source to Management?Manage two little words: "Fear" and "Greed"

Linux's time has come. I'm convinced of it. You're probably convinced of it too, or you wouldn't be reading this! But what about your management? Are they convinced? Can you be successful if they aren't? More importantly, how do you convince them?

This article explores the challenges in selling "open source" to management. (It's probably pretty useful as well to managers who want to gain the benefits of open source software, but don't know how to manage the risk associated with making the change.) While these ideas apply to Linux directly, they can really be applied to any open source technology.

The keys to success lie in understanding how to see both sides of the equation. First, understand yourself and the technology you want to use. Second, understand management's motivations and the buttons you can push to help you get your way.

Convincing Yourself

Success, it is said, happens "when preparation meets opportunity." In this case, convincing yourself is the most critical part of preparation.

Convincing yourself mean making sure the technology you want to use is "ready for prime time." In the case of Linux, this means making sure the particular application you want to use is solid.

Before opening your mouth and committing to delivering an application by a fixed date, consider these rules:

Rule No. 1: Wait until at least a "1.0 release" - please!

I know it's tempting. I've been there and had to pull myself back from the edge. But if you commit to going to production using a product that's not ready, you may find yourself in the computer room at 1 a.m. the night before acceptance testing checking flight schedules to Jamaica or surfing monster.com.

Rule No. 2: Look for an active committer base

I don't mean just a single individual, either. Look for projects where there are commits from a dedicated group happening every day. These are the teams that respond quickly when a major bug is found.

Rule No. 3: Monitor the mailing lists for a while

Are questions routinely answered the same day (or within minutes or hours) by two or more people? Imagine that the questions asked were yours - and that hitting launch date was dependent upon somebody answering. Do you trust that someone would be there for you?

Rule No. 4: (Most importantly) Use the software

Find some little out-of-the-way application where you can test it out. The application doesn't have to be big - but it should be something you use for a while to see how things go.

For example, I'm going to have to build an e-mail processing app next spring and I've been considering using Jakarta James for it. James has some very cool technologies for building mail apps that may be really useful. So I installed James on one of our servers and built some JUnit tests for testing code I have right now that sends e-mail. Every time I do a build now, I'm running these tests that exercise my e-mail code by sending e-mail to James and reading it back.

Over the next few months I'll monitor the testing to see if I ever lose messages, or if I have to restart the server often or have other problems. Hopefully I'll get a good feeling for how reliable it is.

Convincing Your Boss

So once you've convinced yourself, how do you convince your DLPHB (Dilbert-Like Pointed-Haired Boss)? How do you convince management you should be using open source?

The answer's simple: by managing these two words - Fear and Greed.

The Greed part is obvious. Your manager wants to get ahead, right? Managers get ahead by saving money, hitting deadlines, and delivering quality. OS can help them do all of these. Use these arguments:

1. Open source means no cost. This translates to:
- No spending time with sales people
- No getting purchase orders signed
- No annual maintenance agreements to budget for
- No user licenses to keep track of
- No contracts for review by the company lawyers

2. Hitting deadlines can be easier:
- Support responses in minutes or hours
- Having source code helps isolate bugs faster
- Drawing on the experience of other users is easier

3. Delivering quality because:
- "Many eyes on the code" means bugs are found quickly.
- All bug listings are online. If there are bugs, you know about them.
- If all else fails, you can fix the code yourself if you need to.

Managing the Fear part is trickier, though not impossible. It can be harder, because most of the things managers are afraid of can't be easily quantified. Managers fear things like:

4. The open source project will disappear.
Successful OS projects don't just go away. Assuming you've done your homework and this project is good, the user base will stick around. Even if the project goes away, you still have all the source code - which is more than a vendor going out of business will give you.

5. The open source project is some "cool" technology that you want to play with.

Managers sometimes think programmers just like to play with new technologies all the time. That's because many programmers actually do like to play with new technologies all the time.

Look in the mirror here. This is where you make or break the decision. Have you used the product internally for a while? Do you have a prototype? Can you give a demonstration? You can succeed here if you've done your homework and you can communicate things clearly.

Communicating clearly sometimes means talking in "business terms." It means talking about saving money, or speeding up delivery, or having an easier time hiring experienced people.

As an example of how to put together a presentation on for management, I've made available a PowerPoint presentation to help sell manager-types on using Jakarta Struts. It's yours to use free - you can download it at the companion site for my book, Struts Kick Start.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

Comments (5)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Latest Stories
Automation is turning manual or repetitive IT tasks into a thing of the past-including in the datacenter. Nutanix not only provides a world-class user interface, but also a comprehensive set of APIs to allow the automation of provisioning, data collection, and other tasks. In this session, you'll explore Nutanix APIs-from provisioning to other Day 0, Day 1 operations. Come learn about how you can easily leverage Nutanix APIs for orchestration and automation of infrastructure, VMs, networking, an...
Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throughout enterprises of all sizes. We are offering early bird savings...
It cannot be overseen or regulated by any one administrator, like a government or bank. Currently, there is no government regulation on them which also means there is no government safeguards over them. Although many are looking at Bitcoin to put money into, it would be wise to proceed with caution. Regular central banks are watching it and deciding whether or not to make them illegal (Criminalize them) and therefore make them worthless and eliminate them as competition. ICOs (Initial Coin Offer...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Organize your corporate travel faster, at lower cost. Hotailors is a next-gen AI-powered travel platform. What is Hotailors? Hotailors is a platform for organising business travels that grants access to the best real-time offers from 2.000.000+ hotels and 700+ airlines in the whole world. Thanks to our solution you can plan, book & expense business trips in less than 5 minutes. Accordingly to your travel policy, budget limits and cashless for your employees. With our reporting, int...
The current environment of Continuous Disruption requires companies to transform how they work and how they engineer their products. Transformations are notoriously hard to execute, yet many companies have succeeded. What can we learn from them? Can we produce a blueprint for a transformation? This presentation will cover several distinct approaches that companies take to achieve transformation. Each approach utilizes different levers and comes with its own advantages, tradeoffs, costs, risks, a...
This sixteen (16) hour course provides an introduction to DevOps, the cultural and professional movement that stresses communication, collaboration, integration and automation in order to improve the flow of work between software developers and IT operations professionals. Improved workflows will result in an improved ability to design, develop, deploy and operate software and services faster.
Enterprises are universally struggling to understand where the new tools and methodologies of DevOps fit into their organizations, and are universally making the same mistakes. These mistakes are not unavoidable, and in fact, avoiding them gifts an organization with sustained competitive advantage, just like it did for Japanese Manufacturing Post WWII.
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
Whenever a new technology hits the high points of hype, everyone starts talking about it like it will solve all their business problems. Blockchain is one of those technologies. According to Gartner's latest report on the hype cycle of emerging technologies, blockchain has just passed the peak of their hype cycle curve. If you read the news articles about it, one would think it has taken over the technology world. No disruptive technology is without its challenges and potential impediments t...
In today's always-on world, customer expectations have changed. Competitive differentiation is delivered through rapid software innovations, the ability to respond to issues quickly and by releasing high-quality code with minimal interruptions. DevOps isn't some far off goal; it's methodologies and practices are a response to this demand. The demand to go faster. The demand for more uptime. The demand to innovate. In this keynote, we will cover the Nutanix Developer Stack. Built from the foundat...
SAP is the world leader in enterprise applications in terms of software and software-related service revenue. Based on market capitalization, we are the world's third largest independent software manufacturer. Harness the power of your data and accelerate trusted outcome-driven innovation by developing intelligent and live solutions for real-time decisions and actions on a single data copy. Support next-generation transactional and analytical processing with a broad set of advanced analytics - r...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
When building large, cloud-based applications that operate at a high scale, it’s important to maintain a high availability and resilience to failures. In order to do that, you must be tolerant of failures, even in light of failures in other areas of your application. “Fly two mistakes high” is an old adage in the radio control airplane hobby. It means, fly high enough so that if you make a mistake, you can continue flying with room to still make mistakes. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee A...
The digital transformation is real! To adapt, IT professionals need to transform their own skillset to become more multi-dimensional by gaining both depth and breadth of a wide variety of knowledge and competencies. Historically, while IT has been built on a foundation of specialty (or "I" shaped) silos, the DevOps principle of "shifting left" is opening up opportunities for developers, operational staff, security and others to grow their skills portfolio, advance their careers and become "T"-sh...