Peer to Peer

June 2009

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Page 95 of 99 96 Peer to Peer lESSOnS lEARnEd Skip Lohmeyer Ogletree Deakins DiREctoR of infoRMation systEMs oPERation GREEnvillE, sc number of attorneys: 450 number of offices: 36 "I admit it — I'm a convert. I'm officially a supporter of open source solutions." OPENING THE DOOR FOR OPEN SOURCE If you don't have staff with open source/Unix experience or one willing to learn, I'm certain you can find a temporary staff person from the local open source user group in your city. You and your staff should pick up the technical skills required to implement and manage open source systems. What projects should you start with? It might make sense to start with a non-production system, like network monitoring solutions. Everyone's network needs monitoring! And in today's economic times, we need all the help we can get to ensure we are not paying for more bandwidth than needed. The advantages of understanding your bandwidth utilization and network latency include: You can put your finger on network performance problems • quickly. You can reduce bandwidth without affecting performance. In • other words, measure what you are using and reduce your pipe to the optimal size. You can improve network performance. If you can lower your • latency by streamlining your routing equipment, you may be able to improve user experience without adding bandwidth. Also, your circuit provider(s) can assist with making no cost routing changes which can improve latency levels between firm locations. You can reduce project costs for network monitoring. There • are many, very costly network monitoring tools and services on the market today. Some require intensive work to install and I 've been a closet open source supporter for several years now. For many years, I only looked at commercial solutions for organizational needs. Proven, well-packaged systems were my thing. Sure, they were expensive, but they did the trick. I resisted, vehemently, all notions of placing open source solutions in production for mission critical needs. I considered them unproven. Additionally, they often required expertise the IT department might not have. Then, five years ago, my new IT director opened my eyes to the benefits of open source, and I've been a believer ever since. cost: • The cost of open source is much cheaper in nearly every case. The software is free but will need a system unit with some flavor of Unix on it. flexibility: • Because the source code is open, it is possible to leverage in- or out-sourced developers for integration or modification to optimize within your environment. Knowledge of systems: • If the IT staff is to implement an open source solution, they will have to become more knowledgeable about their environment. This higher level of knowledge pays big dividends. I might not have believed this would have made that much of a difference in the department if I didn't witness it myself.

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