All iHeavy Newsletter

Open Insights 03 – The Business of Open Source

The Business of Open Source


People around the world, in business, government, and education

have all heard about Open Source. It’s the buzzword of the hour.

You may have heard about specific projects like the Linux Operating

System, or Apache, the webserver that runs nearly 70% of internet

webservers (,

or various government initiatives to switch to Open Source from

proprietary alternatives. In any case it is more and more at the

forefront of IT decision making.

Behind all of the hoopla, hardcore believers & opponents, figures, and

statistics lies a pool of resources, a methodology and technology that

deserves your careful consideration.

What is Open Source exactly?


To be fair it means a lot of things to a lot of people. The term

itself means that source code is included with the distribution of

an application. To end users, and business managers, this seems

rather esoteric. I’m not going to view the source code, you might say

so why does it matter. Well for one your developers can and may

want to look at it. For reasons of privacy and security it is good

to be able to scan code and ensure none of your business information,

that you’d rather not be stored centrally, be sent by an application

unbenownst to you. For your technology staff though, it can mean

life or death at times, when an application just won’t behave, and

you’re having trouble getting support to recognize a problem you’re

having. Given the source you can track it down directly, and fix it

inhouse if need be. But Open Source also encourages communities of

developers in a very ad-hoc and unpredictable way, creating

collaboration, and ultimately resulting in better software.

How can Open Source Software help my business?


There are three ways Open Source can help a business – cost,

flexibility, and open standards.

Ok, lets save the best for last, and look at open standards first. Well

standards mean compatability. When standards are published, and open

anyone, on any platform can implement to that spec, and build compatible

software. It means an open playing field where the best company, with

the greatest technology wins. It also means your technology lasts longer

because you don’t necessarily need to always update to the latest and

greatest. If a particular version is rock solid, and stable, you can

stay there, without worry that you’ll soon be obsolete.

What about flexibility? Well in terms of licenses, the Open Source world

includes many different types, from the thoroughly idealistic GPL

( to the more business friendly

‘Free for non-commercial use’, and various other proprietary with source


Here’s an example. Suppose you’d like to use the latest version of ASP,

ASP.NET. It is free to download and install to your heart’s content.

But if you’re running an older version of the Operating System, you’ll

have to upgrade that first. You may have a whole server farm of 10

Windows boxes, and you want to add one new one. The version differences

are going to force you to upgrade those 10 servers first. Effectively

your Operating System does not last you as long. Whereas in the Linux

world, for example, you can still run 1.x versions. They remain stable

and useful, although not as feature rich as the latest releases.

So flexibility has a lot to do with licensing.

Now for your favorite, cost. Open Source software is often free. Now

that does not mean it is free to implement because surely you have

investment costs in terms of hardware, and engineering know-how. But

the software itself is not going to bite you. Look at some real-world

business examples if you have any doubt.



What should I be concerned about?


The most important consideration for a business embarking on an Open

Source strategy is IT knowledge and expertise. Your staff will need

to be fluent in the new technologies both in terms of choices and

directions, as well as support and administration of your internal


In the area of support services it is a good idea to consider how

Open Source projects can differ from their commercial alternatives.

Some distributions of underlying Open Source technologies such as

Red Hat and SUSE provide support services directly. Although they

are not the core development community, the put together a distribution

of the Linux kernel, and related applications, and also provide

modifications and add-ons only available in their distribution.

For MySQL and PHP, you can also purchase support services.

Lastly you may have intellectual property and or litigation concerns.

The news continues to cover the SCO battle against Linux and

allegations of proprietary Unix code contributed to the kernel. To

allay any such fears keep in mind that although SCO has gone after

big boys such as DaimlerChrysler, and IBM, they have failed to win

any of those cases.

DaimlerChrysler/SCO Case Winds Down


SCO Facts Website:



Open Source is an ever expanding area of technology, and one which

smart and forward looking companies, institutions, and governments

continue to embrace for reasons that span cost, privacy, and


Now is the time to start planning your company’s Open Source

strategy. The reasons, and opportunities are clear and open.

Heavyweight Internet Group has specialized in Unix and Linux solutions

for Oracle since 1997. Our focus is Oracle and Open Source

infrastructures, including Oracle 8, 9i, 10g, Mysql, Linux, Apache,

Tomcat, PHP and Perl.

All iHeavy Newsletter

Open Insights 02 – Consulting Apples and Oranges

Heavyweight Internet Newsletter for Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Issue: 2

Welcome to the Heavyweight Internet Group newsletter.

From all of us here at Heavyweight Internet Group we’d like to wish you a

happy and safe holiday season.

Consulting Apples and Oranges


Consulting is a big word. It carries a lot of meaning in different

business circles, mostly formed by large consulting firms. This

article will dispell some of the generalizations, and help you

find services right for your business needs.

Consultants in general terms, bring specialized help to a firm for

a duration of time, to solve specific business problems. In terms of

technology projects, a team of specialists, or in some cases a single

consultant are hired to build your technology infrastructure, or tune an

existing system.

Large or Boutique?


When scouting out consulting expertise, the initial reflex is often to

to with a large consulting firm that presumably has a long history, and

excellent experience in your technical area. When hiring a large firm,

however, you’re effectively hiring on the reputation of the firm, not

the individuals who will be sent to work with your company. Experience

and expertise can vary dramatically though, which is one way a smaller

firm can differentiate. For smaller firms, their reputation is built

on the knowledge, experience, and expertise of a small number of

individuals who you will likely be working directly with. Their

business success, and resilience in the marketplace is a direct

testament to what they can achieve for your business.

Additionally the relative size of your account to the firm you hire is

an important factor. If you are a fairly small firm, you will likely


to the bottom of the pile with a larger consulting firm. However with a

small boutique firm, you are one of only a handful of their clients, so

you retain a commanding importance to them.

How about those fees?


The discussion of fees and costs is always an important one. In real

terms, smaller boutique firms can bring your total costs down

dramatically, but how best to measure that?

Often, because of history and the example of others in the industry, fees

are based around hourly rates. A company for obvious reasons, would like

to calculate the cost of a technology project, and the presumtion is that

an hourly fee is the first step in doing so. But hourly fees take

attention away from the real question of return on investment, and often

lead to apples and oranges comparisons. One consultant may come at

a very inexpensive hourly rate, but take weeks to solve problems.

Another may bill more, but have years of experience and so be able

to spot a familiar problem quickly, and get the same problem solved

in hours or days. Hourly billing also allows for weak project scoping up

front because a consultant won’t be hurt if the project drags out. In

general terms, hourly billing encourages slower fulfillment of

objectives, scope creep, and maximizes the number of discrete physical


However, focusing on the project itself, defining the scope and outlining

the project requirements up front, and then assigning a total cost to

completion, allows you to really compare two competing solutions. Some

consultants may be reluctant to assign a fixed fee to a project due to

fears of scope creep, and so on. But a fixed fee project will also

force you to iron out details up front, avoiding surprises down the

road. And more importantly it will take everyone’s attention off of hour

by hour details, and focus them instead on the milestones and project as

a whole.



There are a lot of factors to consider when hiring a consulting firm to

work with you. You’ve heard horror stories of projects gone awry, or

perhaps been on the losing end of such a project. All the more reason to

do your due diligence with various consulting shops, to find the one


will fit your needs. Temper the reflex to go with one of the larger

firms, and you may be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

All iHeavy Newsletter

Open Insights 01 – Newsletter Introduction

Heavyweight Internet Newsletter for Friday, November 05, 2004

Issue: 1

Welcome to the Heavyweight Internet newsletter.

This is our first installment in what we hope will become a popular and

indespensible resource for technology professionals and management alike.

Q. What types of information can I expect to see?

A. We will be filling the newsletter with content not necessarily found on

the website. This will not just be plugs for products and services, but

useful articles on such topics as: outsourcing vs doing a project

in-house, consulting best practices, finding quality technology people,

measuring return on investment for technology projects, and reducing

infrastructure costs with Open Source technologies.

Q. Will this only be a technical newsletter?

A. No. There will be links to technical howto articles on the website,

but the newsletter will tend to be more for a more general audience.

Q. Do I need to subscribe?

A. Only if you want the newsletter in email. You can also view the

newsletter on our site

Q. Will there be marketing and sales pitches?

A. We will of course be mentioning services offered by Heavyweight

Internet Group, and linking to such content on the site, but the majority

of the newsletter will be useful tips for consultants and managers alike.

Q. Will the newsletter be specific to databases or Open Source


A. These are certainly our main focus, and areas of expertise. However we

will also talk about other new technologies we come accross which we think

will be relevant to the enterprise in coming years. For instance Voice

over IP technology has been a recent topic.

We hope this has been a helpful introduction. Help us spread the word,

and recommend us to friends and business associates!

-Heavyweight Internet Group

* For more info, please visit our web site at