Open Source in the enterprise

by Greg Jetter


When I first started using Linux years ago , it was a hackers operating system. Students were the major users . Microsoft windows ruled the enterprise .

No longer, it is 2014 and open source with Linux leading the way has reached the top of the enterprise. Especially the Telco industry where I work now.

Let me explain , you see I find open source free software everywhere I look in the Wireless/Cell phone industry. It is embedded into switches , routers , access points and servers of every kind.

I do not think modern communications could occur without Open Source Software (FOSS) .Not at an affordable price any way. If all proprietary software was used the cost would be so high that the common man could not afford the service.

Lets Examine the places and usages of FOSS .

Starting at the network level , for monitoring performance of switches, routers and servers there is Cacti and Zabbix , two widely used open source free enterprise level programs. Both written in PHP and using the SNMP protocol to poll equipment for values , the net-snmp program written in the Perl scripting language and the FOSS MySql data base for storage. Of course both Cacti and Zabbix run on the worlds most popular web server , Apache a FOSS product as well. Naturally a flavour of GNU Linux is the operating system of choice. and is Used extensively to power servers as well as embedded into appliances such as routers and access points.

Day to day operational trouble shooting sees the program "Wireshark" a FOSS packet sniffing tool used extensively through out the Network operations centrer. Along with many other network tools all which are FOSS programs used to track Ethernet packets from one place to another.

Every service provider needs some accounting method to bill the user , FreeRadius a Free open source Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting (AAA) program, is used to track customers and their usage of data and air time. It and the FOSS PostgreSQL data base insure that the company gets paid. All the major network equipment manufactures like "Cisco" and "Ericson" incorporate FOSS into their offerings to one degree or another . I have seen the Apache web server and Apache tom cat Java server along with the Mongo DB offered up in one offering by Cisco called a "BroadHop" an appliance/server for providing wireless internet services .

Not surprisingly all of the FOSS software used by major manufactures of networking equipment are tweaked a little , enough to make them propitiatory and bundled into a half a million dollar box’s under the manufactures brand. To bad they won't pass the savings along to the consumer

On the engineering desktop you will find both Linux and Windows O/S's and FOSS products used in development and design . The terminal program Puddy on Windows is used for secure shelling into remote servers as well as telnet sessions into routers and switches. Secure Shell being a FOSS program as well as a protocol .

I have to admit I enjoy ribbing my fellow co-workers , that if they were using Linux they could just use a native terminal instead of having to use an emulator. For development the FOSS Integrated development environment Eclipse is used for JAVA and other languages. For Perl scripting I use the Padre IDE and BlueFish as my HTML web IDE.

Although You will find FOSS every where you look , it's potential to save the enterprise even more money is constantly being overlooked . It is still feared on the desktop even in a highly trained workforce environment. Ask yourself why Microsoft Office and the associated cost when there is Libera Office ? Why use proprietary office products when there are comparable FOSS products that cost you nothing and that have large active user bases . Corporations need to wise up , Proprietary Software is a thing of the past , the major players in the telco industry have quietly incorporated FOSS into their offerings. Charging a premium for them I might add. And pocketing the savings in development cost. Why not your company ?

© 2014 Greg Jetter