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Keywords: Open source software
Title: Succeeding With Open Source
Author: Bernard Golden
Publisher: Addison Wesley
Level: Targeted at IT managers, not developers
Verdict: Provides solid information to help assess open source products in commercial settings
No, not a book on how to create a meisterwerk of open source software. In fact not a book for developers at all. Instead this is a book that is aimed firmly at those higher up in the food chain. This is a book for those in IT management who are dipping a toe into the unfamiliar waters of open source and are afraid to get soaked.
Essentially the book functions as a basic primer on what open source is, how it differs from closed source software and, crucially, how to assess open source products for business use. The assessment process is rather grandly described as the Open Source Maturity Model (OSMM), and the book describes the process in some detail, including a worked example built around an assessment of the JBoss application server.
The OSMM process essentially distils a lot of common sense into a series of steps that provides a formal structure around which to make decisions about open source products. For many developers this will seem a fairly pointless exercise. After all our assessment criteria revolve around functionality, development tools, documentation and so on. However in most corporate environments it?s not necessarily the techies who make these decisions. For IT managers therefore, this book hand-holds them through new territory and gives them a means to cover their backs should things go belly up. Like it or not having something like the OSMM might help swing things towards open source in those organisations most resistant change.
In addition to the text, the book includes a ready-made template that means that the contents can be put to use fairly quickly if required.
There are implications for developers too, of course. It means that sound technical arguments can be supported with additional evidence structured around the OSMM ? looking at things like business models, licensing issues, supporting services and so on.
While this isn?t the most interesting or dynamic read, if it helps to shift people?s perceptions in the right direction then this is no bad thing. For IT managers keen to explore the use of open source products in commercial environments than this is certainly worth investigating.