"Open Source for the Enterprise"
by Dan Woods and Gautam Guilani
Reading history and reviews
Finished on 8th December 2009For a technical book I suppose this is getting on a bit now - I bought it in November 2005 or 2006 (mostly because I um liked the cover), and so I wasn't sure how relevant it would be 3-4 years on. However I was pleasantly surprised - although the landscape has changed with regard to some of the specific software that are mentioned, there is plenty of general advice that still stands up.
Essentially the book is aimed at corporate IT departments where traditionally software provision has been bought in from external vendors, and where the use of open source solutions could potentially provide significant cost-saving benefits. The key word though is "potentially": while open source might be free at the point of download, this doesn't necessarily mean that there won't be costs elsewhere in the software lifecycle - most significantly in terms of staff effort spent on learning, installing, configuring and trouble-shooting.
Successfully using open source then is a question of managing the risks associated with it, and to do this departments must be able to judge both the maturity of software that they are considering, and also their own level of competence in being able to support it (the authors suggest ways to assess each, and for me this advice stands up generally for anybody considering using open source). There are also pitfalls tp avoid (for example, the "key person problem" - where only one person becomes expert within the department, and then leaves taking their knowledge with them).
Overall I enjoyed reading this and felt like I learned a lot; as a programmer and a long term user of Linux systems (which makes extensive use of open source software) it was interesting to be presented with a broader perspective on open source software usage within an enterprise setting.