When an upgrade of its open source-based Web site threatened to overwhelm its budget, a Canadian IT career organization decided to give Linux the pink slip, and recruit Microsoft instead.
The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) in Canada says switching to a content management system (CMS) based on Microsoft .Net 3.5 Framework, helped it carry out timely and cost-effective updates to its Web site without any IT help.
Thanks to the revamp, the Council will not need to hire a developer to manage the site, effectively saving it as much as CA$50,000 a year.
A nonprofit sector council, largely funded by Human Resources Skills Development Canada, ICTC's mandate is to build a strong information communication and technology (ICT) workforce in Canada.
One of its four Web sites, DiscoverIT.org, offers teachers, students and parents links and information about technology careers such as job descriptions, course recommendations, and certification services.
In recent years the Council was unable to update much information on DiscoverIT.org because the open source software developer who created the site "had moved on" -- leaving ICTC with no technical support, according to Paul Swinwood, president of the organization.
He said ICTC had been unable to provide site users with updated job descriptions of many Web developer and multi-media developer positions cropping up in the industry.
The Linux-based system coded in PHP (a recursive acronym for the computer scripting language Hypertext Preprocessor) was too complex for in-house staff to maintain. With its limited budget, ICTC could not afford to hire a developer, said Swinwood.
With no IT support, he said, the Council was also unable to install security updates, which left the sites vulnerable to online attacks.
The organization's lone IT worker was tasked with uploading new content but it soon became apparent the workload was too much for a single person to handle.
Many technology experts say open source software development benefits from the abundance of developer communities that can customize applications and operating systems for users more freely than those working on proprietary products.
However, ICTC's budget constraints were a big challenge.
"I turned to the open source development community, but could not find anyone who would do the upgrade and maintenance for the money we could offer."
He said developers were asking up to CA$50,000 for upgrade and maintenance of the system -- something ICTC, a non-profit organization that relies on grants for each project, couldn't afford.
The constraints of an open source system became apparent too, Swinwood said. "With Linux, we might have saved the initial cost to get the system up and running, but it wasn't worth the investment, in our opinion."