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Open Source - the next big opportunity for consulting firms?

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Could Open Source prove to be the next big money-maker for the world's consulting giants? To date only IBM has really got behind open source, so there could be quite a "land grab" in the coming year as more firms seize its potential. Mick James, former Editor of Management Consultancy magazine, speaks with the executive director of the Open Source Consortium to find out more.

Historically consultants played a big role in the commoditisation of IT, giving many users the confidence to move away from proprietary hardware made by the likes of IBM to cheaper Unix and PC-based systems. The order-of-magnitude cost savings more than justified the consultancy fees and the stranglehold of proprietary hardware architectures was broken forever.

One might have thought that consultants would be looking to repeat the story, only this time with proprietary software vendors as the target. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be happening: major consultancy firms seem to be happy with the status quo, and are more likely to use their intellectual muscle to rubbish open source solutions than to explore the possibilities.

It’s a situation that puzzles Mark Taylor - executive director of the Open Source Consortium,

“I’m amazed,” he says. “The big consultancies should be all over it and if they are not then the existing consultancies will be.”

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