How to Cut Your Overhead with Open Source!
Different businesses can vary greatly in size, type, and sector, but they all share a common goal: to maximize the bottom line. One step towards achieving this goal is to cut your information technology overhead by employing open source software.
The IT requirements of most businesses are steadily growing and meeting these requirements is a necessary part of being successful. This does not come cheap. With hardware, software, and licensing, IT is typically a significant source of overhead. Although you cannot cut IT entirely, there is something you can do that may drastically decrease the associated overhead.
Open source software has been quietly taking the business world by storm. Small businesses and big businesses alike are reaping the benefits from switching to open source software for some or all of their IT solutions. Even technology giants, such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft use open source software to power parts of their IT infrastructure.
Open source software is created by a community of developers who believe passionately in creating quality software. Open source software can do virtually everything that non-open source software can do and in many case are better, more efficient, and more secure. And that is not even the best part; open source software is is totally free.
We will take a look at a few options where you can fit open source software into your infrastructure and start cutting your costs today.
Open Source Solutions for Workstations
First and foremost, you should consider changing the operating system on your workstations to an open source alternative. The de facto standard for operating systems is Linux.
Several organizations offer different distributions of Linux, but two of the most popular distributions are from Red Hat and Ubuntu. Both of these organizations offer free packages specifically tailored for business workstations and make installing everything you need to get started as easy as popping in a CD.
Taking the plunge into an open source operating system has several benefits. The most obvious is completely eliminating the licensing fees for proprietary operating systems. A less obvious benefit is an increase in the security of sensitive information.
Touted as the most secure operating system available by security professionals, running Linux can significantly decrease the probability of being hacked or infected by malware. This, in turn, reduces the chance of a potentially business-cripping situation.
WINE, which stands for Wine is not an Emulator, is a handy open source application. As the name implies, it does not emulate Windows, but it does allow you to run a huge number of Windows applications on Linux. This is quite useful if you have a legacy Windows application that your business relies on. If this is the case, do not let it hold you back from making the switch before you determine if WINE will run your application.
Whether you change operating systems or not, there are open source versions of most productivity tools. Open Office is a free word processor that is compatible with Microsoft Word. Does your business employ digital artists using Photoshop in their pipeline? Check out the Gimp, an open source alternative with a similar interface and feature set to Photoshop. Almost all popular office applications have open source alternatives and using them will reduce your IT overhead.
Open Source Solutions for Servers
If you host your own web server or web service, do not worry, there are open source alternatives here as well. Apache is the most popular open source web server available. In fact, not only does it do everything that proprietary web servers can do, but it holds the largest part of market share out of all web servers available today.
If you need to share files across your business network, Samba is an open source file server similar to Microsoft Windows Server. For hosting your own email services with something like Microsoft Exchange, look no further than Zimbra, a mail server and client, with all the features found in Outlook and Exchange.
Whether your company is in the business of technology or not, IT is most likely an integral part of your track to success. Stay ahead of the pack, and cut your overhead at the same time by taking advantage of open source alternatives to your current IT solutions.