If you are a business person who is new to the world of Open Source, or you need to introduce business people to Open Source and what it can do for you then the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA, an automobile speciality parts trade association) has a very good introduction to Open Source called Open Source Explained : What it is — What it isn’t — and How SEMA Members Can Benefit From It.
Using open source is like owning a 1960s musclecar. You can drive it just as it is, or you can tweak and modify it to the limits of your (or a friend’s) time and talents. On the other hand, a closed source program is quite the opposite. The work of the people who create the software is not available for tweaking or performance enhancements by the general public. It’s like getting a car with the hood welded shut by the manufacturer. “Here are the keys. Put gas in it, and call us if it breaks.” Closed source has its place, and it might be the only choice in certain instances.
As well as being a gentle introduction to what Open Source is it covers all the sorts of things that businesses care about, servers, oeprating systems, databases, word processing, desktop publishing, CRM, ERP, etc. Well worth a read even if you are involved in Open Source because you’re almost certain to come across something you’d not heard of before.
The author ? Well he’s not a professional geek, he is:
Walter D. Vaughan, Jr. is a vice president at Steele Rubber Products. He is a current member of SEMA’s Business Technology Committee, an ARMO Select Committee member and a recipient of ARMO’s 1998 Industry Person of the Year Award. He also uses or has tested extensively all the software mentioned in this article.