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Open Source consulting + Small business - viable?

By wayne62682 ·
Given the recent economic downturn, I've thought of the idea of providing open source consulting services to smaller businesses - the ones who balk at spending thousands of dollars on license fees but need the software to conduct business.

Things like using Linux/OSS on the server end instead of things like Exchange (Postfix) or SQL Server (Postgres), and doing software development using open source technology (e.g. Java, Python, Ruby). Or I could stick with the Microsoft stack, but most businesses I've seen don't want to pay that kind of money no matter how good it might be.

With the economy how it is, and with more and more companies looking to save money without sacrificing anything, do you think this kind of business would be viable?

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you will fight

by Jaqui In reply to Open Source consulting + ...

to get past the perception that open source and linux are bad, because "They are not microsoft / windows"

even with the cost savings, people often have no idea that linux exists, or what it is.

They are equally clueless about open source.

They do not understand that a from source install makes for more stable software.

Until they use it and find they don't have the "Blue Screen of Death" nor the need to waste money on new hardware, they will be suspicious of anything that is open source.

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But for that business that does have a clue...

by santeewelding In reply to you will fight

He may have something.

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yes, I was

by Jaqui In reply to But for that business tha ...

only pointing out that all clients will have preconceptions that he will be constantly fighting to correct.

There are very few industries that cannot reasonably go 100% open source, it's just getting them to really look at the option is a battle.

For those that can't go 100% open source, it's a matter of 1 or 2 apps that they need on every workstation that are proprietary, and usually only run on windows. the crossover office / wine + winex model doesn't work with these apps.

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Open Source and the Small Business

by dcolbert Contributor In reply to you will fight

Good luck, at least in the States.

We're talking about business owners *and* lusers who can barely conceptualize a Win32 paradigm they've been exposed to all of their life. They have completely unrealistic expectations of their Win32 consulting staff and the products and applications that they want are almost always industry specific Win32 applications.

I mean, if you're a total masochist, go for it. There are probably less open source applications than you could count on one hand that would be suitable for the average small business environment - and it isn't going to take the business long to discover that what they've saved on licensing costs they are losing by calling you out on a repeat basis at your hourly rate to help them solve issues because there isn't a 1-800-lo-seur number for them to call.

My prediction, you're going to be doing a lot of pro-bono/gratis support calls.

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by lionheart1982 In reply to Open Source and the Small ...

The kind of businesses the OP seems to be marketing towards would be using a consultant for most of their IT operations anyways, since very few small businesses have in-house IT staff.

So, if they're going to be paying a consultant regardless of the stack doesn't open source make more sense since they can avoid the license fees? That sounds like simple economics to me, especially in times like this.

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Sounds great... you go first...

by dcolbert Contributor In reply to Disagree...

Give it a shot, and get back to us with your perspective on the experience.

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