When I finish my analyses of the IT infrastructure currently in use I am able to compile a list of Open Source alternatives for the proprietary software.
When the people in charge of the IT department see the results of my analyses they are often surprised to see the amount of money they can save with Open Source software. The feature list of Open Source software is very close to that of the matching proprietary software. Combine that with the support contracts offered by Open Source integrators and a switch to a hybrid Open Source / Proprietary infrastructure looks like a very good move.
Internet Gateway Services
The entire range of Internet Gateway Services provided by proprietary software such as Firewalls, Routing, Anti-Spam and Anti-Virus gateways can be easily replaced with Open Source software.
I'm sure many of you are very familiar with the excellent iptables kernel module, the spamassassin spam filter or the Clam-AV anti-virus software. When comparing these Open Source alternatives to existing proprietary software a company of one hundred users can easily save thousands of euros.
In the case of Anti-Spam and Anti-Virus solutions, a custom built Linux based Email Gateway can save a company € 1300,00 a year in licensing costs when compared to popular software like GFI Mail Essentials.
File and print services
In most enterprises, Windows servers is omnipotent when it comes to file and print services. Combine the excellent integration with Active Directory and you have a unbeatable combination, right?
Wrong. A fine tuned combination of LDAP, Samba and Cups can beat the Windows server solution in terms of price and performance.
Our example company of one hundred users would require 100 Windows server CAL's that would cost our company € 5000,00 in licensing costs. A cost that could need to be paid again at the whims of a single software vendor.
Is it that simple?
No, it's not. It's true that the in house knowledge of Open Source software is a lot lower than that of proprietary software like Microsoft products. The simplicity of proprietary software is about reverse equal to the advanced features and possibility of Open Source software. So the knowledge has to be brought in house.
The entire point is that a company can save lots of money by switching the foundation of their IT infrastructure. If the knowledge isn't available in house then it should be brought in by hiring skilled employees or hiring an Open Source integrator.
To put it simple: save a bit of money by outsourcing your initial Open Source trials, then save big bucks when you are 'a believer' by investing in employees trained for Open Source software.