Businesses should not expect that the open source community
will always provide it with the patches and fixes required to
deliver business-grade application support, according to a panel
of open source advocates speaking at CeBIT in Sydney.

Jonathan Oxer, President of Linux Australia Inc, said that
while the open source community is still capable of supporting
businesses by quickly creating new code in response to requests
posted online for bug fixes or functionality upgrades, businesses
should not expect this form of support will be forthcoming for
applications.

“You can still post to the Net and get amazing code in a few
hours,” Oxer said, before adding that the breadth of open source
software makes it increasingly unlikely that this kind of support
can be expected to serve as a business-grade service.

Oxer instead recommended that businesses intending to use open
source applications work with services companies that specialise
in the applications they desire. The investment in expertise and
service capability such companies make, he said, will mean they
can support open source applications faster than the community
alone. The result of this kind of relationship, he added, will be
greater innovation than is possible using customisable commercial
business software, which he asserted restricts the amount of
adaptation possible to business’ specific needs.

Another panellist, Cybersource CEO Con Zymaris, said he
believes this kind of scenario is not fully appreciated by
businesses, which are yet to factor the increasingly professional
and voluminous pool of open source service companies into their
risk management decision matrices.

Calling current risk management practises as regards appraisal
of open source software “immature,” Zymaris praised AGIMO’s
recent open source procurement guide as an important step towards
helping business understand how to assess the merits of open
source software.

“Get your hands on a copy,” he told the audience. “It will
change the way you think about open source.”

David Purdue, President of the Australian Unix User Group,
also participated in the panel and advocated open source software
as the most powerful way to spread open standards, and thereby
increase interoperability between systems.

Simon Sharwood
moderated the panel.