For some unknown reason, open source seems to be a catalyst for workplace arguments–regardless of how technical (or not) the people involved are.

But while it’s all well and good to have a discussion about its merits or failings in the lunchroom, do such heated opinions really benefit the IT manager or CIO looking at open source’s application in the business?

IT departments face the ongoing problem of having to overcome the misconceptions of users, as well as board-level or senior management, about certain technologies.

These people may have heard something from friends, had a bad experience in the past, or read some inaccurate analysis. And all this has to be overcome when discussing open source in relation to specific projects which the enterprise may be considering.

This means that even for projects that might benefit from open source, there’s an historic mindset to break through before the relative merits can even be discussed.

Does it really have to be such an either/or scenario? Some analysts have been talking about the hybrid approach some organisations are taking, where basic development environments which are available as open source are used by vendors as a foundation for other tools.

The other problem facing IT managers is that the debate about whether or not to implement open source solutions has become as much a political issue within companies as it is a technical question.

When is open source going to be treated in the same way as other business technologies which are evaluated according to their relevance for particular project?

Does your company take the open source route? Do you think IT managers have preconceived ideas to overcome? E-mail your opinion to edit@zdnet.com.au