Sunday, January 16, 2005

OpenSource vs Microsoft conundrum

Well it’s happened, after 8 years as a Microsoft disciple and most of these as a Microsoft certified professional I’m seriously considering open source. What happened? How did I get here…..? Well, I’m both a technical architect and a teacher. I’m bringing these two disciplines together into being a technology savvy instructional designer. And after I started to network and asking around, it seems that the open source world has a greater foothold in the corporate training and academic arena. Now, I’ve known UNIX and it’s derivatives have mostly captured the halls of academia but it also seems to be pushing out into the corporate and training world. Some may balk at this last statement, and if you do, please provide me with reference sites where the Learning Management System (LMS) or the corporate courseware is a complete Microsoft solution. Either way, this is what I’ve learned; and I have to give thanks to Scott Tearle of Lambda Solutions for a great conversation over lunch about these matters. I’ll break what I learned into the server side and the UI side. I have this separation because all training and learning processes need administration (i.e. the LMS) and this admin is usually somewhere on the corporate/academic network and the end-user learning content has grown up to be rich interactive media, quite a different beast than the administration needs. So, on the server side their seems to be considerable growth in utilizing LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) Servers to host the LMS. One of the main players in this is Moodle. Moodle is an open source LMS written for the LAMP Server (and other server environments, people say it runs fast and for the lowest cost on a LAMP server). The point is that an open source server application is quickly gaining considerable acceptance. Moodle is very well supported as an open source application, with a strong and active developer community. Learning about moodle is high on my list of to do’s as I deepen my skills as an instructional designer. On the client side (or gaming/simulation side) it’s Flash, Java, Python, C, C++, Etc. Either way, the client side is certainly not dominated by Microsoft technologies, and again, there is a healthy and growing community of opensource gaming/simulation engines, as evidenced by Panda3d. So there you have it, my conundrum; OpenSource or Microsoft. My intuition tells me open source will, in the long term, dominate. Their are many reasons for this belief and that’s a blog entry in itself. So, given how my current days unfold I will be living my conundrum. I’m persuing my Microsoft certification as a DBA and a .NET programmer, I’m learning flash and actionscript and I’m booting up a LAMP server to learn moodle.