Small firms can benefit from open source

6 Mar 2009

Ahead of the first-ever Open Source Software (OSS) BarCamp event, which will take place on 28 March in Dublin, chief-organiser Laura Czajkowski has said that small-to-medium businesses have much to gain from open source, even if it is just to realise that there are alternatives out there.

“Most businesses won’t even have heard of open-source software in a context they think applies to them, and think that Microsoft is really all there is.

“Many people don’t even realise there are alternatives out there; a business may be used to using one particular program and not want to change over, and the thought of something new is often off-putting,” she added.

Events like OSS BarCamp can help businesses and individuals learn by their coming along and asking questions. It is a chance for people to see open-source products, programs and applications used in a way that could benefit them, explained Czajkowski.

“It’s all about educating people and giving them the choice; if someone wants to use one form or another they can, but at least try something new.”

The Open Source BarCamp will be in the spirit of previous BarCamp events, which are known as user-generated conferences due to attendees providing their own content and discussions in an informal and accessible manner.

Czajkowski said that given the strong line-up of speakers, the event is hoping to attract a wide variety of attendees: “I cannot get over the vast line-up that is going to be speaking on the day. It’s great; there is a topic for everyone and all levels are catered for.

“The talks range from development in PHP and web applications, to using GIMP, an alternative tool to Photoshop.

“We’re hoping the audience will be of all levels; this way it encourages speakers to really explain things to new people, so everyone understands and gets the most from the talk.”

The strange thing about misconceptions surrounding open source, Czajkowski said, is that most people do not even realise that they are already using it: “The majority of large internet mail servers are not Microsoft Exchange but rather Sendmail and Postfix: two very popular open-source email servers.
“You don’t even realise you are using open-source platforms every day, for example sales is driven by Apache’s web services.”

By Marie Boran