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I know that my next question might not be answerable, but in any event, would you be able to articulate some of the differences between “customization” as you are describing/treating it and “customization” as described above (as treated in previous postings)?

Cheers&Thanks

Ken

6. ken udas - august 4th, 2007 at 6:41 am

Dick,

Hello. Just another little follow-up question. You outlined some of the advantages of using OSS. What were the challenges that you encountered (technical, organizational, etc.)?

Cheers

Ken

7. dick moore - august 5th, 2007 at 9:40 am

Ken

Would you be able to articulate some of the differences between “customization” as you are describing/treating it and “customization” as described above (as treated in previous postings)?

Not a problem, Mara talks about localisation and making software a delight to use, while I agree with her that this is not often the case, it can be achieved by making it a functional requirement, if that’s done then it will be built but often requires a long view to be taken at the start of a project.

Customisation / localisation seems to me to be most successful when it is system generated and determined from attributes associated with the user or set flags held within the user profile. I refer to this sort of modification as ‘adaptive rendering’. The content and interface attempt to adapt themselves according to some system rules.

The other form of end user customisation that can occur is when the end user specifies specific data feeds or apply filters associated with their account, and your right neither of these are the kind of customisation I was referring to.

I was referring in my piece to a requirement to modify, at short notice core business rules that underpin something like funding.

User and functional testing will never be able to anticipate this kind of change or customisation never the less such changes to funding rules occur annually and, quit4e rightly, have strict audit requirements.

Outsourcing such systems where you know that you will be expected to make significant change each year but don’t know what it is can be expensive and risky.

Does using OSS help here, well not directly but indirectly, the ability the flexibility and low cost associated with OSS enables us to prototype and understand the implications of these ‘environmental changes’ very quickly and at a relatively low cost. Mature OSS tools are so stable that the cost and quality of such development is significantly less, in my experience.

Just another little follow-up question. You outlined some of the advantages of using OSS. What were the challenges that you encountered (technical, organizational, etc.)?

OSS development and application has a culture of collaboration and critique, as such it’s designed to change quickly.

Auditors are always very keen for infrastructure and applications to be at the highest patch level.

So…… A challenge with OSS software in a commercial environment is keeping current. We get so many patches and releases for each application each year !

I have been careful not to name suppliers in this artical but I will make an exception for the RedHat Enterprise Linux who understand the commercial market and produce a new release every 18 – 24 months rather than 3 times a year. Combined with quality training, this has helped overcome many of the traditional organisational challanges to OSS.

Like every other IT shop getting and keeping good staff is a challenge. I find that using OSS software and investing in training actually helps in attracting good staff and the training helps to keep them.

This hour-long talk by Google’s Goranka Bjedov, about performance testing of big OSS ICT systems. Speaks far better than I can about the real and practical issues in running large-scale e-learning delivery infrastructure. It made me laugh out loud five times at least.

The OSS market is so much more mature than even 3 years ago, I am not surprised to hear that many suppliers of ICT services are working with OSS to increase profit while at the same time improve their quality of service.

Dick

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Source:  OpenStax, The impact of open source software on education. OpenStax CNX. Mar 30, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10431/1.7
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