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Which Way Are You Headed?

Which Way Are You Headed?

While Microsoft continues its aggressive anti-Linux campaign, independent software vendors and businesses around the world are turning their heads, choosing to pursue greater interoperability through open standards.

It's a fact that Windows is the incumbent operating system with years of dominance as the platform of choice at many organizations. However, in an age when computing systems are increasingly disparate and required to integrate and share crucial business processes and information securely, companies need to think twice before making the decision to lock themselves into a proprietary operating environment.

Gartner states that 45% of medium-size businesses are using or experimenting with Linux. Sageza Group, another research firm, recently found that small and medium-size businesses experience substantial cost savings when they choose the Linux operating system over a proprietary option.

The open standards movement is gaining traction, and no one can contest that. It helps solve two fundamental problems that many companies face - managing costs and easing data exchange - without having to rip and replace decades worth of IT investments. And embracing open systems is particularly valuable to vertical-focused vendors, as many of these industries have their own set of standards companies must adhere to and interoperate with.

Consider the insurance industry, for example. Insurance companies need claims-processing solutions that can easily facilitate data exchange, integrate multiple systems, accommodate real-time information sharing, and effectively manage a geographically dispersed workforce and third-party vendors.

With open standards, software can be developed only once and have the ability to run on various computing platforms. It can be modified quickly and can interface with other applications and services. This helps lower costs for both the software vendors and the business customers. Open standards prevent vendors from having to invest more time and resources to build new products to accommodate the different platforms that customers might choose to use. On the flip side, insurance companies can add new software to the solution without having to make extensive changes to their existing systems and infrastructure.

The government sector is another one to watch. Their uptake of Linux and open standards as an alternative to Microsoft has been dominating the airwaves, and more and more IT managers are making the move away from Windows. China, Japan, and South Korea have agreed to develop an open source operating system based on Linux. England, the state of Massachusetts, and the City Council of Munich have all pledged support for open standards as a cost-effective technology option. Adopting Linux gives emerging markets a 15-year head start because it's easier to deploy, and implementation costs go down dramatically. Who can argue with that?

As developers and independent software vendors, we need to weigh all options when figuring out how to best meet our customers' needs. Do we build proprietary solutions that limit flexibility and choice, and may require huge investments to upgrade? Or do we offer our customers scalable solutions and infrastructure based on open standards technology that is broadly accepted, cost effective, and easy to maintain? I know which direction I'm headed, how about you?

More Stories By Mark Upson

Mark Upson brings more than 20 years' experience and success in global technology sales and management to PureEdge. Mark holds an MS degree in manufacturing systems engineering from Stanford University and a BS degree with honors in industrial engineering from Virginia Tech.

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