Gain skills to support your retail Open Source roll-out

Moving to ‘free’ Open Source software (OSS) from licensed proprietary software often seems like it’s a no contest. Yet OSS doesn’t mean that organisations like your own can just install the latest Open Source software and leave it to its own devices – particularly if you wish to avoid mounting hidden expenses. Like the romantic partner in your life, OSS needs some tender, loving care to make sure that it delivers the results your retail organisation requires.

Retail CIOS

“Done correctly, maintaining and managing Open Source environments can be easier than proprietary ones due to the number of management tools that are available and the scriptability of UNIX in general”, says Mark Reynolds, Director of Technology at Linux consulting expert LinuxIT. He adds the following points for consideration:

  1. Open Source installations for retail or for any other sector should be automated to create a high level of predictability;
  2. Software components should be packaged using an appropriate distribution format for Linux to allow for easier upgrades and downgrades as well as simpler integration with other  software companies;
  3. Larger scale deployments will require centralised patch deployment and configuration management tools, such as Red Hat satellite server or Puppet, to significantly rationalise overheads.

As a retailer, our teams are sure you can’t afford any disruption, and so to minimise it you might want to consider working with a company like Linux consulting expert LinuxIT – particularly if you need access to strong systems administration skills, which are founded on the understanding of current industry best practices like ITIL, Visible Ops and so on. Furthermore, by working with LinuxIT you can enhance your existing IT skills to ensure that the project is a success.

“There is a steep learning curve with moving from Microsoft Windows environments to Linux, and companies should engage with third parties to get the initial infrastructure right from the start to prevent Linux and Open Source software from becoming an experiment”, says Reynolds.

The prerequisite of working with a Linux consulting company such as LinuxIT is also important because most organisations need to integrate OSS with their existing systems: e.g. Electronic Point-Of-Sale terminals (EPOS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems which store customers’ personal and transactional data.

He adds that the philosophy behind Open Source software “implies that in the long-term the results should be better as lots of people can work on it to solve problems by developing nice tools; and the more diverse the groups, the more likely that the software is to be good.”

Standards and interoperability are important for every retailer, and because Open Source software is often developed by a number of unconnected people, Hawkins says that these factors become even more important. In other words, quality controls are not left behind with OSS.

Every organisation has different needs, goals, capabilities and resources. So the implementation of Open Source technologies is bound to differ from one retailer to the next.

To ensure that your own company’s requirements are fulfilled, why not take the next step to success? Call our expert team at LinuxIT on 0845 606 3002 or email us at [email protected] to begin your incredible love affair with Linux.

For more ideas, please take a look at our eGuide, ‘How to ensure Open Source software delivers real world ROI’