It’s a given that a successful and sustainable enterprise open source software strategy is going to require some amount of internal expertise. Today’s blog post will outline three options available that technical teams and management are likely to consider before diving in to a new (or existing) open source software initiative. Before we cover the options for improving expertise, a couple questions to socialize internally are:
• How well do we really know this open source software system and its associated community?
• How will we continue to improve the level of expertise to keep up with new version releases each year?
Option 1: Professional OSS Training Courses
Finding a professional organization to help with open source software training for system administration teams or developers is quite possibly the best option to guarantee a successful increase in the level of internal expertise. Instructor-led training courses provide an interactive learning environment for the attendees to work closely with industry experts. A physical classroom environment is usually much more effective versus a virtual classroom, but either option will work. Self-paced training may be available from some vendors; however, having a course instructor provides the group of attendees with a dedicated expert to guide them through the curriculum. This helps make sure the attendees really do understand all the content and ensures that all follow-up questions will be answered. Another benefit of professional training is that the course content is usually yours to keep after the class is finished. Having recordings, PowerPoint presentations, and sample architecture diagrams for your system admins to reference could mean the difference between immediate success or long-term frustration when deploying a new open source environment.
Option 2: Commercial OSS Technical Support
If your organization prefers learning about new software products internally, yet still finds value in having a team of experts to call for back-up, then a commercial support contract is a great way to make sure the internal teams have someone to turn to when they have questions. Unlike commercial software, or commercially-licensed open source software, community versions of open source do not come with a professional support team or service level agreement (SLA) once the OSS is downloaded. As described in option 3 below, improving expertise without external experts is an option to consider. However, the value of having a commercial support contract with SLA’s that are tied to support issue resolution is a guaranteed way to make sure internal resources do not waste hours or days researching the intricate details of open source system architecture and ongoing administration or troubleshooting.
Option 3: In-house & directly from the community forums
Finally, there is always the option to grow your expertise 100 percent in-house. After all, the community versions of open source software are free to download for anyone who has the bandwidth and technical know-how. This is an option if you have the time to get out there and see how it works on your own so you can build your expertise. The technical discussions on active open source community forums are a good resource since there will most likely be some answers to common questions that end users come up with about the “how to’s” and “gotcha’s” for various environments and usage scenarios. It may take a little longer to set up and Q/A multiple system architecture’s to find out what works best, or to push open source systems to their capacity and intentionally “break” something. As long as you document the architecture plans that provide the best performance and can figure out how to fix an open source system once it has broken (and do it again and again…) then building your expertise on your own is a viable option.
OpenLogic specializes in helping enterprises succeed with options 1 and 2. So if you have any questions about what it takes to improve your expertise with our help, I’d love to hear from you!