Friday, August 28, 2009

Using Open Source for IT

K P Perumal, D.G.M (MIS), TIIC maintained that most e-governance projects in the country do not meet expectations and that there is a long way to go before these initiatives truly benefit the common citizenry

The Tamil Nadu Industrial Investment Corporation Limited (TIIC) is a State Financial Corporation engaged in industrializing the state of Tamil Nadu through various financial schemes, including term lending. We commenced computerization in 1987 and have completed the IT enablement of our core operations such as loan disbursement, financial accounting and MIS, HRM, etc. However, these areas are not integrated with other business functions. Therefore, during 2008-09, the corporation took up integration of these functions on a centralized database concept similar to core-banking solution on an open source platform. The project is expected to be completed in 2010-11.

Implementation issues

The biggest challenges that TIIC faced with regard to IT projects was manpower planning and the availability of manpower on continual basis. Inconsistency in the management—in terms of deciding the scope of IT projects and frequent changes in management created a problem in maintaining the continuity of projects. Finally, data migration from one DBMS format to other DBMS format was yet another factor that was a challenge.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why Do Linux And Open Source Lovers Give Apple A Free Ride?

In its "Windows 7 Sins" campaign, the Free Software Foundation has labeled Windows 7 as "treacherous computing," and accuses Microsoft of such acts as "poisoning education." This is just the latest in a long line of attacks by open source lovers against Microsoft. But Apple is arguably even more closed than Microsoft, yet always gets a free ride from vociferous open source proponents. Can anyone explain this hypocrisy?

Computerworld reports that the group has

launched a campaign against Microsoft Corp.'s upcoming Windows 7 operating system, calling it "treacherous computing" that stealthily takes away rights from users.

At the Web site, the Boston-based FSF lists the seven "sins" that proprietary software such as Windows 7 commits against computer users.

Nowhere does the group mention Apple. Yet in important ways, Apple is more closed than Microsoft. Apple controls not just software, like Microsoft does, but its hardware as well. Try to sell a non-Apple computer with Apple's OS on it, and you'll get hauled into court by Apple lawyers. Apple has also taken legal action against bloggers who report on upcoming hardware and software releases. There's a long list of ways in which Apple is far more closed than Microsoft.

Yet the Free Software Foundation, and many other open source proponents, conveniently ignore these facts, and regularly attack Microsoft, while giving Apple a free ride. Apple, after all, has the "coolness" factor in its favor, and it's fashionable and easy to attack Microsoft.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Microsoft offers open source link for PHP, .Net

Microsoft's Developer and Platform Evangelism Interoperability team is introducing on Friday an open source project to bridge PHP and Microsoft's .Net programming model, Microsoft representatives said.

The company's PHP Toolkit for ADO.Net Data Services uses REST as a bridge between Microsoft's software platform and the popular PHP scripting language, said Peter Galli, Microsoft open source community manager, in a blog entry. With the kit, developed by Persistent Systems, PHP developers can more easily take advantage of ADO.Net Data Services, which are a set of features in the .Net Framework for building and consuming data services from the Web. The services previously were referred to as Project Astoria.

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Five Reasons to Hire Open Source Developers

Afraid an open source developer will be a liability to your organization? TechRepublic's Jack Wallen offers some reasons to think otherwise.

Open source has infiltrated many levels of IT over the past decade.

It has been a slow process; however, little by little, it has become a normality. And even though many companies are adopting open source software, they are hesitant to bring open source developers into the fold. Why is this?

Many larger companies do not place any value on open source applications, therefore they do not place any value in those who code the applications. Some companies are afraid that hiring an open source developer would be a liability--possibly reverse engineering their proprietary software and then releasing forked versions into the community.

Although these may sound like justifiable fears, they overlook some very important benefits that come with hiring open source developers.

Let's take a look at some good reasons to hire open source developers.

  1. You can see more than their resumes. Because the applications they work on are open, you can get a first-hand look at the code they write even before you do that first interview. Try to do that with a developer for a proprietary software developer.

    This will give you a fairly instant grasp of your interviewee's understanding of programming. You will know right away how well they write their code, if they use comments well, what tools they use, etc.

  2. Open source developers have had to think on their toes and patch the programs that Microsoft has (often times) intentionally broken. Think about the Samba team. For the longest time they would take a step forward and Microsoft would change something that would push them a couple of steps back.

    The Samba team had to be on their toes all the time to make changes so their software would continue to work with the latest version of Windows.

  3. Although this is not a universal truth, open source developers are very passionate about what they do. They have to be, otherwise why would they do it?

    If you hire an open source developer that has a passion for their work on open source projects, it might very well spill over into the work they do for you. Now I understand that many developers are passionate about their work (I've read Microserfs), but passion in the open source community runs a bit hotter than it does in the non-open source communities.

  4. Along with an open source developer you will enjoy open source support. This is a tricky one for sure. You can't hire a developer and then expect that developer not only to code but also serve as support for end users. But it is always nice when there is someone there to help support the IT department.

    That Apache server that someone installed a long time ago and has been running non-stop without upgrades because everyone is afraid to touch it? It could be given the attention it so deserves now.

  5. And like adopting any open source project, you will save money. Along with hiring a single open source developer, you now have the "support" of the entire open source community, should you need it. If you are working on an-in house project that ends up going to open source that project has the opportunity to scale in proportion to the size of the community supporting said project.

If that project catches the eye of the open source community, who knows, it may wind up being the next Samba or Apache.

I don't want anyone to get the impression that I think open source developers are better than closed source developers. But they do have different ideologies and they do go about things differently. For a long time companies avoided hiring open source developers for one reason or another, but I have and will always stand by my claim that open source developers make great additions to your IT staff.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Google Open Source Strategy Not Just A Patent Dodge

Matt Asay, whose views have become increasingly corporate as the recession has ground on, wrote yesterday that Google may be investing in open source as a patent dodge.

Of course, it wasn’t his opinion he was stating. He was just quoting the speculation of a Gartner analyst, Brian Prentice.

A politician couldn’t do that better. “I’m not saying my esteemed opponent is a duck. I’m just quoting an analyst who claims to have heard a quack.”

Fact is Google has been a long-time advocate of patent reform. And on this issue it is also, like the rest of the computer industry, a long-time loser.

Nothing Machiavellian is going on here. Google has been very honest about its views, and in its advocacy.

Google has lost this battle before because the pharmaceutical and medical device makers refuse to go along. Software patents are routinely issued that cover a wide range of programs. Drug and device patents cover specific compounds or devices. Their reach is more limited, and their protection more important in those industries.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Best Free Open Source Software for Windows

InfoWorld - To many, free open source software and Microsoft Windows seem to be mutually exclusive. After all, the open source development model is most closely associated with the Linux OS and, to a lesser degree, various Unix derivatives. So when you mention the two together, you often get some rather strange looks. This is a shame because there exists a growing landscape of compelling free and open source solutions just waiting for the intrepid Windows user.

You probably already know one of them well. Firefox has long stood as a prime example of how the open source development process can work to deliver a first-class solution that rivals, and in many ways surpasses, the best that the commercial side has to offer. However, it would be a mistake to make that arduous (for novices) trek to and stop there. Over the horizon are many more FOSS-on-Windows treasures waiting to be discovered, including tools that can improve your productivity, expand your lines of communication, and help keep you safe from threats along the way.

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