|As well, how can I best leverage the use of open source apps available on Sourceforge and the like, while not violating any licenses? |
Read the GPL (or whatever license the project has chosen) and don't break it!
Thanks bcolflesh, perhaps I should clarify that last point.
Clearly I am not looking to rip off someone else's work, like the 'Miranda IM' [miranda-icq.sourceforge.net] issue. On the contrary, I am talking more about marketing my services to install and/or modifiy these applications and not "selling" the applications themselves.
I guess the best way to do that is to play up the cost/support angle - you could most certainly give a lower bid than an MS-based shop for most things I'd imagine.
bscene, put together a good set of examples of well-known sites that are OSS-based. Google, Amazon, Yahoo, etc. This "if the big ones are using it, it must be good" logic works very well on certain kinds of people ;)
Another way to do this is to market to people who are open source friendly. Find companies run by young people who are more familiar with open source and have seen it grow up. I am starting my own company with a buddy and we have never even considered anything other than mysql/perl as our DB and language of choice.
For us its a couple of things: 1. its free 2. it works as well or better than commerical offerings 3. it gives us a huge amount of flexibility 4. most importantly the tech half of the operation works in these languages.
I work for an ASP/Oracle site and have seen us make some sacrifices because of the cost associated to beefing up our db (oracle charges per processor). I don't want my own site to have that constraint.
You could, but do you clients care? I mean, how do you know that the "Microsoft certification" is really making the difference of a sale for your competitors? Have you followed up with any proposals/estimates you *didn't* get, and ask them why you didn't get it (or if that had to do with it?)
From my experience, clients don't know - and don't really want to know, per se. You're talking technology - not answers, and people hire answers, not technology.
My only concern would be that you be sure to disclose to your clients the full ramifications of using open source tools. Companies migrate to different design/web houses over a period of time and if they aren't aware that you used open source on their project it could require them to have their site rebuilt from the ground up if they choose to hire a web company in the future that doesn't support open source.
I have mixed feelings about using open source for out-of-house projects and sometimes think it should only be used for in-house projects or when a client requests it. However, if you marketed yourself as an open source developer it could actually help you in the long run among your more educated clients.
Just my .02...
jmbishop, the problem you're describing is called vendor lock-in, and open-source is in fact the LEAST risky way to go in that sense. Not to mention that you need to try hard to find non-OSS-aware web development shop, since OSS still owns the Internet about as much as Microsoft owns the desktop. Sure, opens-source has its ramlifications, but they lay in a completely different domain.
First, a decent Unix hosting will cost less then a Windows hosting (up to 2 times). This is especially true when you need a MS SQL database. Check out the licensing price for it at M$ and guess how’s gonna pay it. It is included into the price of a hosting plan.
Second, you have a large repository of code available under GPL license that you can use.
Third, your clients can definitely save on tech support (companies using LAMP technologies outnumber those using .NET currently)
One thing is true though: most people don’t care about technology; they simply need a solution to their problem.
For new folks, or those switching hosts, I throw around stuff like:
- 2/3 of the web servers run Apache, which is open source
- 40% of those Apache servers sport PHP
- Given those numbers, Apache with PHP is roughly the same installed base as Microsoft + ASP
- Unix is generally considered more secure
- Unix admins are considered more competent than NT admins
And I have some articles and stat snippets to back that up.
I stay within LAMP. If someone has legacy ASP or something, I refer them elsewhere.