Open Source Can Fulfill Indonesian Business Needs

>> Wednesday, March 18, 2009

From: Betti Alisjahbana
To: ia-itb ; ; ;
Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 1:36 PM
Subject: [IA-ITB] Open Source Can Fulfill Indonesian Business Needs

Artikel di bawah ini dimuat di Majalah Frontier ( Majalahnya USAID).
Sementara para caleg ber kampanye politik saya kampanye open source saja he..he..he.

Open Source Can Fulfill Indonesian Business Needs

For some companies, the availability of Open Source can mean the difference between gaining or losing a competitive edge.

Writer Betti Alisjahbana

Information systems are fundamental to running a business in these times. Industries such as banking, telecommunications, and insurance, information systems cannot be operated without them. While information systems have become a commodity, in combination with the right organizational changes and management systems they allow companies to create products, services and business models in a competitive manner.

The challenge lies in making a wise choice when selecting information system solution, to obtain a reliable system at a good price. Especially with the current difficult economic conditions, cost saving is important. It is thus not surprising that Open Source software is becoming increasingly popular.

Collaborative development

Open Source is a method for developing software collaboratively and openly. Any person can use, develop and share software that is available as Open Source.

Developing software in a collaborative and open environment offers benefits for the business sector that cannot be obtained if firms work independently. Bugs that are found can be more quickly fixed. The level of security is also higher, because the programming codes can be seen and analyzed by many people. This means that weaknesses can be immediately found and overcome, rather than going unnoticed until they are taken advantage of by unauthorized parties.

Open source software also allows small players to compete more successfully against market dominators. The collaborative approach gives them access to good software of reliable quality and flexibility, and minimizes dependency on particular vendors.

Reduced licensing costs

An immediate benefit that companies can obtain by using Open Source software is a reduction in costs due to software licensing. For many companies, this lower cost is necessary so they can afford information technology and gain the resulting benefits in competitiveness.

For example, SMEs no longer need to spend vast sums on obtaining licenses to use proprietary software. They can choose Linux as the operating system for their desktops and file/ print servers; Open Office for office applications; and Firefox as a web browser. Applications for e-mail and messaging systems, financial management, and web content management are available in various Open Source versions. Several SMEs have even used Open Source software for ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and CRM (Customer Relationship Management).

Open source software is not only for small and medium-scale companies. Large companies, such as Samudra Group and Telkom, have taken advantage of Open Source software. There are at least 18,000 PCs at PT Telkom which have been shifted to open office software. Among the reasons for this shift are the flexibility for making changes and adjustments to the software, the ability to use legal software without high costs, independence from vendors of proprietary software, and better security.

Many Open Source applications have been widely used over time, and for that reason they have been categorized as “mature.” This category includes development tools; systems for security, server operation, collaboration, and web content management; and server applications. Generally, companies using Open Source software begin with such applications. The amount saved in licensing fees is very significant, and can be used for more strategic purposes, such as developing innovations that can lead business and industry to economic success and progress.

A way to catch up

A basic principle of Open Source is that all software and courseware may be copied, used and improved by any party for a good purpose and acceleration of development. For developing countries such as Indonesia, this offers a way to catch up with developed countries without running afoul of intellectual property rights restrictions that have hampered development.

Open source allows users to be more than just passive customers. With Open Source, users also obtain the source code so that they can take an active role in software design, allowing greater independence and enhancing the ability to produce.

Some Constraints

The adoption of Open Source has been increasing worldwide, including in Indonesia. However, we have not fully exploited the potential of Open Source. Barriers to this include:

 Not all peripherals such as printers and scanners provide drivers for Open Source software.
 Support from developers and providers of Open Source is still limited.
 Education at schools is still oriented toward proprietary software, in terms of both materials and supporting media (the books and software used).

Indonesian Open Source Association

On 30 June 2008, the Indonesian Open Source Association (AOSI) was officially established. AOSI is an association of organizations of supporters, developers, users, trainers, business actors, and all advocates of Open Source at the national scale. These organizations work together synergistically to promote Open Source.

AOSI has a number of planned programs to encourage the technical and business development of Open Source in Indonesia. AOSI involves the government in discussing programs and regulations for accelerating the increased use of Open Source at all levels in Indonesia.

The establishment of AOSI is expected to create stronger links among Open Source communities so they can work together to address obstacles, encourage the adoption and application of Open Source, and further the development of Open Source support services. We hope that Indonesia will derive the maximum benefits possible from Open Source for the advancement of information technology and economic growth in Indonesia.

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