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Open source key to business success, claims policy advisor

Open source systems are essential to business, according to a report from policy advisor Jim Norton. Article by Kathleen Hall. The report, Open for Business, sponsored by travel firm Amadeus IT Group, calls for open systems in demanding real-time processing environments. The paper outlines how open systems have developed and why today they are not just fit for purpose but have the potential to deliver industry-wide benefits. Jim Norton said almost every major business will need to move to open source. He said the travel industry would particularly benefit from moves to open source, as it operates on tight margins. “But other sectors also need to realise that open systems have come of age. And if they don’t [take advantage of the benefits] they will be left behind,” said Norton. Open source has been key to the growth of e-commerce over the last 10 years because it has enabled the industry to move quickly, said Norton. “Control is another key point as under the proprietary model you are not at the mercy of vendor upgrades,” said Norton. “And anyone trying to be innovative with mobile devices will have to go down the open source route.” Norton said the total cost of IT ownership decreases by around 20% when organisations move to open source. Companies are now in a position to learn from businesses who have already implemented open source projects, he added. Hervé Couturier, executive vice-president of development at Amadeus, said open source had given the company an edge over competitors by enabling it to innovate at a faster pace. Couturier pointed to Amadeus's core Altéa Customer Management System and Extreme Search portfolios, which it runs on Linux. Amadeus has moved from closed to open systems over the last 12 years. It uses open source in critical infrastructure such as the Suse Linux suite, which required high processing capabilities having moved off IBM TPI mainframes. “It was a huge programme of decommission,” said Couturier “If we had stayed on our new legacy systems we would have had to increase our spending by a huge factor. It’s not about savings but avoiding costs." The cost of adding thousands of more licences to its growing server estate would have been prohibitive to the company’s growth over the last decade if it had stuck with the proprietary mode, he said. Amadeus currently handles 6,000 transactions per second.
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