Open Source, The Enterprise and The Community

Open Source, The Enterprise and the communityRackspace has just announced their open source cloud platform, OpenStack in collaboration with NASA.

While the open source world has been a viable area for quite some time, there seems to be a lot of talk these days of open-sourcing many things. Google has opened up Android, the Department of Homeland Security has just announced an open source intrusion detection engine, and more organizations are embracing open source platforms while also complaining about open source software overload.

Welcome to the open source world…whether you want to be a part of it or not….open source is here to stay.

Open Source

Take a second to jump over and read the definition of Open Source as defined by the Open Source Initiative.     Lots of interesting stuff there: Access to source code. Redistribution rights. Technology-neutrality.  Integrity of original code.  Good stuff….if you can understand how to take advantage of it within the enterprise.

Open source has its roots in the ‘free software’ movement but the open source world of today is a far cry from that of the free software movement in the past.  No longer is the main argument for free software….its moved into a more pragmatic argument of making software development a more open environment.

The open source world is an amazing one…and its an environment that many CIO’s and IT departments have tried to stay away from. I think its time to change that.

Open Source & The Enterprise

In the past, many people have argued against Open Source in the enterprise.  Most of the arguments against the open source movement have been based around security concerns, support concerns and/or intellectual property issues.

While some of these concerns are valid, I think many organizations, CIO’s and IT departments have a pre-defined prejudice against the open source world. They see this world as nothing but a bunch of hackers giving things away for free.

Far from the truth….but even if it were the truth…what’s wrong with it?  If I were working within an organization that had resource constraints (budget, people, etc), I’d have to look for ways to be more effective with the resources I do have.

Take a second to step back and rethink the open source world. Think about the people. Think about the willingness to give. Think about the community that exists out there.  Think about the hundreds of people that are willing to give their time to develop a piece of functionality that could be beneficial to you.

Look at WordPress (also WordPress.com) as an example.  Its one of the largest blogging / content platforms in the world with over 25 million people using the software to power their blogs. Its also an open source project with hundreds of volunteers contributing to the code base to extend features and functionality. The WordPress platform is used by individuals (it powers this blog) and Fortune 500 companies to run their blogs and content platforms….its even used by the Boy Scouts of America‘s  to run the website for Boys’ Life magazine.

If you were looking for a content management platform and couldn’t spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars buying and implementing one, WordPress could be an ideal choice. So could other platforms like Drupal or Joomla among many others.

With these open source platforms, you’ve got thousands of people willing to give their time and effort to build more functionality (in the form of plugins and themes), most of which wouldn’t cost you a dime.  If you did want to add some specialized functionality to your platform, there are thousands (or more) WordPress developers out there who can do some amazing things for very little money (think thousands of dollars versus hundreds of thousands for closed-source platforms).

But…what if you’ve already got money sunk into another system?  What if you already have a fully built IT architecture based on Microsoft platforms….open source isn’t an option for you….or is it?

Open source is always an option….you’ve just got to change how you think about the open source approach.

Open Source, The Enterprise and The Community

Let’s say you are a .NET shop.  Your entire IT architecture is built with Microsoft systems.  You run windows as your web server, SQL Server for your database platforms, Sharepoint for collaboration and content management and you have zero interest in replacing any of these platforms.

When I talk about open source….you probably shrug your shoulders and say “not for us…we’re a .NET shop”.  Well…you’d be wrong. Look at Umbraco for example….its a .NET open source CMS platform.  Brilliant!

Open source isn’t implementing the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack…its an approach to your business.

You can still be a .NET shop and embrace the open source community.

So…now you argue that open source isn’t secure.   Bollocks I say! (I’ve been waiting 4 years to use that on my blog).

Open source can be as secure as you want it to be.   You define the entry- and exit-paths for open source software and data flow.  Perhaps you setup an API that allows non-sensitive data to flow in or out.  Perhaps you setup certain non-critical functions to allow open source software to be implemented.

There are lots of ways to argue against the “open source security” argument.  The biggest argument is that security is as security does….you make your systems secure today with closed-source software…the same can be done with open source software too.

Open source platforms & software can bring a lot of value to an organization…you’ve just go to be willing to open your mind to open source. An open source approach & mindset can help in many ways.  It can save you money…but it can also allow you to reach out to the community (either your internal community or an external community) for help.

The open source community could be a lifeline for non-profits and community groups.  Imagine what an organization like the Red Cross, the Boy Scouts of America or The United Way could do if they embraced the open source movement and then embraced their community for help?

What about a for-profit company?  Can you still ’embrace your community”?  Maybe…maybe not.  You’ll have to figure out if you have a community first…but that shouldn’t stop you from embracing the open source community as a whole.

There are a lot of smart folks out there just itching to solve a new challenge…reach out and find them…you’d be surprised just how much you can do when you open not only your IT platforms but also your mind.

The open source approach is much more than a philosophical approach to software / hardware /IT….its an approach that allows you to embrace your community to help you move forward.  You’ve already started embracing the community on the marketing side of the house to help ‘spread the word’….why not use that new-found good will and ask for help on the technical side of the house?

Join me next week for more on how non-profits can embrace their community (more specifically how one non-profit has not embraced theirs).

Links for June 6 2010

  • IT’s Three Key Organizational Transformations by Andrew McAfee on Harvard Business Review’s Blog

    Quote: I see companies in all industries using computers to accomplish three broad and deep transformations: they’re becoming more scientific, more orchestrated, and more self-organizing. None of these is complete yet, and I doubt that they ever will be. This is because innovation keeps opening up new opportunities to go further with orchestration, self organization, and science, and companies keep taking advantage of these opportunities.

  • Technology goes public changing IT value by Mark McDonald on Gartner Blog Network

    Quote: Technology has gone public. Changes in the technology stack over the last forty years have changed every aspect of IT, including IT’s value.  The figure below provides a summary of the structures within the technology stack.  The model is a little simplistic, but it does illustrate some of the deep structural changes going on in technology.

  • But you’re not saying anything by Seth Godin on Seth’s Blog

    Quote: Most people work hard to find artful ways to say very little. Instead of polishing that turd, why not work harder to think of something remarkable or important to say in the first place?

  • Innovation is playing offense, not defense by Jeffrey Phillips on Innovate on Purpose

    Quote: Innovation is offensive in nature.  It assumes there are new markets to address, new customers to reach, new problems to solve.  Innovation is proactive – it forces the firm that embraces innovation to change and it forces the firms that are impacted to change as well.  Given the fact that innovation requires change, both internally and externally, you can understand why some firms would prefer to play defense rather than offense

  • Listening To What Isn’t Said by Chris Bailey on Thinking Big Thoughts on Business, Work, and Life

    Quote: But instead, how many times do businesses listen for what they want to hear from their customers? Or maybe get defensive about what is said? Or take what is said at full face value and miss out on so much of the subtext and subtle (but far more powerful) meanings behind the customer’s experience? If you’re only paying attention to what sits at the surface, your business is missing important data that could mean the success or failure of your product, service, or full brand proposition.

  • How to Discover Your Core Values and Why it Matters by Donald Miller on Donald Miller’s Blog

    Quote: What was most interesting, though, is that the stories I tell out of my core values are going to be better because they are taylor made for me. If I work on books and projects that set people free from manipulation and lies, from bullies, my projects will be fueled by who I am and my story will be authentic. And the opposite is also true. If I work on projects that are not out of my core values, the work is sluggish and hard and feels like, well, work.

Links for April 11 2010

  • Innovation success is based on enthusiasm by Jeffrey Phillips on Innovate on Purpose

    Quote from the article: What sustains innovation over time is the ability to fail occasionally, which is an ironclad certainty, without a loss of enthusiasm for the concept of innovation

  • The future of marketing in a technology world by Scott Brinker on Chief Marketing Technologist

    Quote from the article: It’s time to embrace a new class of professionals in the marketing department: marketing technologists, who are software architects and engineers with marketing and business savvy. To assemble and lead this group, there needs to be a new senior leadership role for a marketing CTO or chief marketing technologist.

  • The CIO is Dead! Long Live the CIO! by Vince Kellen on The Cutter Blog

    Quote from the article: To argue that the CIO role will disappear is to suggest that IT is no longer complex or dynamic and does not rise to a level of management difficulty that requires a C-level executive to attend to it. This means that at some level in the organization, and probably very high, dabblers and part-time professionals will be sufficient. Perhaps. But the kind of competitiveness in industries that heavily use IT is not for armchair strategists or part-time enthusiasts.

  • Why tell stories anyway? by David Willows on Fragments

    Great question. Stories provide context…something that might be missing in lot of areas these days.

  • Three truths of IT success by Michael Krigsman on Enterprise Irregulars

    Quote from the article: The persistence of high failure rates suggests that IT projects are more complicated and difficult to complete successfully than we generally recognize. The common view that projects are merely a bundle of implementation steps does not sufficiently address underlying business, organizational, and human dimensions essential to success.

  • Why You Should NEVER Listen to Your Customers by Mark Cuban on blog maverick

    Quote from the article: Your customers can tell you the things that are broken and how they want to be made happen. Listen to them. Make them happy. But they won’t create the future roadmap for your product or service. That’s your job.

  • The Social CRM Process by Jacob Morgan

    Quote from the article: social CRM is a strategy and as Bob mentions, it’s important to separate the strategy from the technology.  My image below doesn’t make it clear that you can do social CRM without social media/networks since the entire image is based around online data from social spaces

  • What IT, Business Really Think of Each Other By Susan Cramm on CIO Insight

    Quote from the article: As leaders get smarter about IT, they increase their adoption of key IT leadership practices and start breaking through the negative stereotypes. For example, in organizations with IT-smart IT and business leaders, ROI is acceptable or great (93 percent), business leaders drive business change associated with IT-enabled investments (90 percent), and IT products and services meet the needs of the business (88 percent).

  • Communication: Meaning Is In The Response by Steve Roesler on All Things Workplace

    Most of us concentrate on what to say and how to say it. In our zeal to  get our message across we forget that at the other end of our message is a real, live person with her own zeal, goals, and concerns. These may not coincide with ours, especially at the moment when we are about to start communicating our new ideas

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Links for March 28 2010

I’m trying out a new approach to my link sharing posts. I’m now using delicious to capture the the articles that I want to share along with my notes. I then use a javascript call to pull the bookmarks for each week from delicious. Hope you get some value from this new approach.

Is Creativity & Innovation enough?

I just finished reading Chase Jarvis‘ post titled “Creativity alone is not enough“.

In this article, Chase argues that Creativity isn’t enough for people working in the creative world (photographers, designers, etc).  Jarvis argues that creative folks need to embrace other mindsets (such as being different, brilliant and innovative) to be successful. According to Jarvis, The key to success in the future for creatives is innovative thinking.

But what is innovation?

To me, Innovation is ‘creating something new’. This ‘newness’ can be built upon something old, but it is a new implementation of the old that is innovative.

Jarvis describes it this way:

it’s hard to say what innovation is. But if I can’t say exactly what it is, I most certainly know what it is not. It doesn’t look or sound at all like the status quo.

Excellent.

Innovation is not the status quo.

The act of innovating is the act of moving away from the status quo.

Then why is there so much status quo around if innovation is the buzzword of the last few years?

I can’t really say….some people blame the recession.  Me?  I blame organizations.  I blame the herd mentality that exists in most organizations today that doesn’t allow individuals’s ideas and creativity to flow.

Sure there are those companies that are innovative and creative (think Apple and Google) but why can we only think of a handful of ‘innovative’ companies (Fast Company lists the Fast 50 – the 50 most innovative companies).    50 out of how many thousands and thousands of companies in this world?

Why so little true innovation?  Is it because it’s hard?  Maybe.  Is it because innovation is risky? Perhaps.

But…from my experience, innovation is difficult because people don’t realize that the status quo (i.e., what you are doing today) isn’t enough to keep you where you are or get you where you want to be.

So…Is Creativity & Innovation enough?

Nope.

You’ve got to add a little chutzpa (four year of blogging and I FINALLY got to use that word!). Take some risk. Do something bold and daring.

I’ve been hearing the cliche ‘move the needle‘ an awful lot around the workplace lately.   Every project is measured against whether it will ‘move the needle’ or not. Although no guidance is given on what that needle is measuring. I can move the needle all day long with small un-risky projects that don’t do anything to change the status quo.  Or…I can break the damn needle off and move the organization. Which do you want to do?  Move the needle…or move the organization?

With a little creativity and innovative thinking added to a little sprinkling of courage, you’ll make a positive and lasting change in your life, organization and in this world.

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Links for March 7 2010

Pick one and own it by Jason Cohen on A Smart Bear

The Strategy Trap: Why focusing too much on strategy could be killing your ability to execute by Olivier Blanchard on The BrandBuilder Blog

HR Hint of the Day: Let Them Run Through the Sprinklers by Frank Roche on KnowHR Blog {If you click on no other link today, click on this one!}

The twin evils of IT gridlock and denials by Michael Krigsman on Enterprise Irregulars

There’s no room for The Idea Guy by David on Signal vs. Noise

Business models for linked data and web 3.0 by Scott Brinker on Chief Marketing Technologist

Are innovation strategies back on CIO agendas? by Linda Tucci on TotalCIO

Thinking About Networks and Social Media and Online Collaborations by Beth Kanter on Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media

Like Siblings, Teams Get Locked Into Behavior Patterns by Andrew O’Connell on HarvardBusiness.org

Community Management: The Strategic New IT-Enabled Business Capability by Dion Hinchcliffe on Enterprise Irregulars

Who Are Your Positive Deviants? by Hutch Carpenter on CloudAve

Losing Andrew Carnegie by Seth Godin on Seth’s Blog

The One Thing About Building A Community By Mitch Joel on Six Pixels of Separation

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