Glidepath, an Auckland-based maker of airport baggage-handling machinery, reports mixed success with its venture into open source. After eight months of bad experiences with a Samba fileserver, the company returned to Microsoft Windows.
Problems centred chiefly on the cost and availability of support, says IT manger Ricky Williscroft. “We had no in-house skills so we had to outsource our support and it was hard to get,” he says. The server did not integrate well with Microsoft Active Directory, files locked up and on a few occasions the whole server collapsed, Williscroft says.
There seem to be unique characteristics to each open-source application, he says, and it was hard to get a support person who understood the exact configuration. “We had to keep going back to the people who installed it, and we didn’t want to do that.”
Microsoft support, on the other hand, is very easy to come by: “You can’t swing a cat in these parts without hitting half a dozen MCSEs,” Williscroft says.
In August, Glidepath decided to give up on Samba and return to Microsoft for its fileserver solution.
The original rationale had been to save on licensing costs, Williscroft says, but that never happened. “We still had to pay server connection licences for our desktops” — to Microsoft — and with the cost of support the company was making no savings, he says.
Williscroft says Glidepath has not moved totally away from open source, however. “We’ve got a couple of Notes servers running under Linux and we’ve had no trouble with them.”