Dell and the SMB open source paradox

Forrester study finds small businesses are apprehensive about open source. Can Dell help change those perceptions?

It's interesting to note that Dell is planning to offer small and medium businesses (SMBs) preconfigured hardware and open source software bundles.  The bundles seem targeted at the Asia Pacific region.

This news comes days after a Forrester study found "only 9 percent of enterprises said they were 'very concerned' [about the security of open source] compared with 45 percent for the SMBs."

[ Follow other trends in open source with InfoWorld's Open Source topic center. ]

The Forrester study also found that "more than half of SMBs (57 percent) also expressed concern that open-source software would be complex and hard to adopt, but only 32 percent of enterprises expressed a similar sentiment. In addition, 68 percent of SMBs cited the availability of service and support for open-source software as a concern, compared with 47 percent of enterprises."

Based on the Forrester data, it seems strange that Dell would want to follow this strategy. There definitely seems to be an uphill battle convincing SMBs to adopt open source products. However, the Forrester data is from North American respondents, while the Dell SMB play seems to be starting in the Asia Pacific (AP) region. The potential difference in customer perceptions of open source in AP versus North America is likely why Dell is starting in AP. However, since Dell expects to roll out the bundles to North America, Dell must believe that its brand can overcome SMB's perceptions around open source.

It'll be interesting to see how successful Dell can be in this segment, and how successful Dell can be in changing SMB preceptions about the security, complexity, and availability of support and service around open source.

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p.s.: I should state: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions."

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