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Hello Hook,

The big problem is that a lot of people use open source software because of the cost. An hourly consultant will often exceed the cost of almost any shrink wrap software in a day or two. So they may balk at hiring out support if their initial motive was cost cutting.

Thanks for answering my question. What you say is true. However, I've often seen cases of people trying out Linux or MySQL to replace a HP/UX or an Oracle server costing upward of $50K each. And, believe me, these HP/UX with Oracle servers have been way overdimensioned for the job. Sometimes, they only want a webserver with a backend database, and they splurge $100K on a complete server bundle which they'll use at most at 1% capacity.

In these instances, the difference is between a $20K Xeon server with Linux/PHP/MySQL, and a $100K HP/UX+Oracle+WebSphere monster. Both will do the job easily. It is a $80K difference, so it's almost a no brainer. However, when management sees the local maintenace column, the HP/UX+Oracle+WebSphere combo includes it for "free", while the Linux/PHP/MySQL solution does not have local support. This is what freaks managers out, having no one to call or shout to when the whole server goes down.

In this case, even if I charged $50 per hour plus a $1000 yearly contract fee (in Guatemala, $25 per hour would be considered expensive), they would gladly accept it. Assuming 10 hours of downtime per month (and that is a lot), it would only come to $500 monthly. Over a year, $6K. The good thing for managers is they have someone to shout at, while the good thing for the consultant (me) is that, if I configure everything right and in the best possible way, I will probably never have to see that server again, and I just pocketed $1000 for a couple of day's work.

Notice that, in the example, I'm not offering to make their application/gateway/whatever. That would be software development. The only thing offered is support in case something goes wrong, and they have no idea what to do with it. My idea goes further in that, since I would have to be finding bugs in open source code, I might as well start contributing formally to some projects (most probably MySQL, PostgreSQL, PHP, Phorum, etc), and in that way, enhance the very same products I will be supporting out there.

Seems to me like a win/win situation, assuming the managers bite, of course. What do you think?

Marcos
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