Depressing.. but not surprising – CIOs don’t get open source

I nearly cried over my coffee this morning, after reading this article on silicon.com which finds that British CIO’s see Open source as ‘not relevant’. As an ex-CTO I don’t find this view surprising, having attended a number of IT conferences in the UK where this attitude was all too familiar amongst the generation of IT Directors and CIO’s who view technology changes as a threat rather than a opportunity and could not tell one end of a router from a C compiler.

Come the next generation of IT managers these dinosaurs will go the way of the other dinosaurs who could not adopt to rapid environment change, this time rather than meteor impact and rapid climate change, the mass extinction will come from web based applications like salesforce.com, google apps and open source infrastructures – linux, mysql, drupal etc. and the developers trained in deploying them, who can quickly build the solutions their customers want.

Rant over – feels much better thank you !!

Written and Submitted from the Google Office, London.

11 comments

  1. Brian Timoney

    Ed:

    Fear not Ed, the pressure is actually already being applied as employees are starting to ask why the mapping apps they use at home are superior to the cumbersome “systems” they’re stuck with at work.

    And the funny thing is, why do CIOs consider open source “not relevant” while vendors such as Oracle and IBM clearly have responded to its presence in the marketplace??

    Brian

  2. Simon Leyland

    I think web2.0 and open source technology can give small business the edge over larger business. Large enterprises are slow and unresponsive to the technological changes mentioned above but small business could deploy new technology at a fraction of the cost and produce funtctionality way above the dreams of most large enterprises.

    You’ve mentioned a few Ed i’ll throw in dabbledb, which for me shows everything brilliant about new technology. A very powerful application that non technical people can develop for and use all for around $50 a month. Yet to gain the same functionality I think large enterprise would have to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds.

    bring on the revolution!

  3. Andrew Larcombe

    “Ian Cohen, Associated Newspapers CIO – and recently voted one of the UK’s top 50 CIOs – said at the Forrester IT Forum in Edinburgh this week that open source just isn’t “particularly relevant”.”

    …although relevant enough for them to reply on Linux, Apache and OpenSSL for their newspapers’ websites it seems.

  4. Ewan

    Totally agree Ed. Opensource is the way forward. Many more options, creativity and flexibility, thats proper value, not ageing corporations trying to sell the market software they think we need. I think the landscape is changing.

  5. Jonathan W Lowe

    Ed, are you suggesting that the UK CIOs threatened by open-source software fear what to them is an unknown or that they do understand at least the concept, but dislike certain aspects of it?

    Is it possible that open-source licensing conflicts with established traditional legal structures built into proprietary investments, and that these CIOs are afraid of the legal complexities resulting from a mix of the two models?

    Both US and UK executives I hear from are aware of and attracted to the high technical quality and rapid deployment opportunities offered by open-source, but anxious that, after incorporating it into their stacks, they’ll discover they must expose some or all of their pre-existing proprietary code base due to the open-source code’s “viral” license requirements.

    What can one tell then, other than to get sound legal advice before taking the leap?

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  8. Thierry

    Ed, I can understand your frustration but you got to be realistic as well. Big enterprises have enough complexity as it is and have little incentive to introduce more choice and options until it is clear that the benefits will be long-term. CIOs in large or global organisations have 2 concerns in mind: regulatory compliance and shareholder interests. To cool web developers those are very boring topics but it’s easy for them, they are not the ones who get fired or go to jail if compliance has been breached or shareholders have been ‘misled’ because employees had too much freedom to manage apps and information.

    Our desktops still run on Windows 2000 but so what – it works and it’s ultra-stable. We can deploy app updates to 120,000 PCs globally in 24 hours, from Rio to Sakhalin to remote sites in the desert.

    But we also run Linux. It’s simply horses for courses for what the business needs. It’s not always sexy but it works. And besides we still manage to run holographic 3D immersive virtual reality centres as well. As I said, it’s needs driven, not technology driven – but technology is used as differentiator where it gives business advantage.

  9. Thierry

    Ed, I can understand your frustration but you got to be realistic as well. Big enterprises have enough complexity as it is and have little incentive to introduce more choice and options until it is clear that the benefits will be long-term. CIOs in large or global organisations have 2 concerns in mind: regulatory compliance and shareholder interests. To cool web developers those are very boring topics but it’s easy for them, they are not the ones who get fired or go to jail if compliance has been breached or shareholders have been ‘misled’ because employees had too much freedom to manage apps and information.

    Our desktops still run on Windows 2000 but so what – it works and it’s ultra-stable. We can deploy app updates to 120,000 PCs globally in 24 hours, from Rio to Sakhalin to remote sites in the desert.

    But we also run Linux. It’s simply horses for courses for what the business needs. It’s not always sexy but it works. And besides we still manage to run holographic 3D immersive virtual reality centres as well. As I said, it’s needs driven, not technology driven – but technology is used as differentiator where it gives business advantage.

  10. Ed

    Jonathan & Thierry, I completely understand you points about the natural caution of CIO/CTO’s and not jumping on a bandwagon of “cool” technology is sensible. However saying that open source is not relevant is just ignorance, it’s like saying global warming is not relevant if you are a farmer.

  11. Daniel

    Ummm, in response to compliance. Please enlighten me (us) on how proprietary systems can be traced in a manner that gives transparency toward compliance – vs – Open Source, which is the ultimate transparent paradigm, making it possible to become fully compliant?

    Hmmm. Different ways of thinking, I suppose. I come from an ISO background when I was mainly making a living in QA and R&D. Open Source provides a total enhancement in business compliance, where proprietary systems absolutely don’t. You have to take the proprietary outfit’s word for it – Open Source, you have it documented fully, staring at you right in the face.

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