And it stands up to them much better than does any Microsoft product.
"While open source may require fewer engineers to complete a job, it requires aggressive thinkers who can quickly assess the open source code and manage the risk of what is out there in terms of releases and technical support," says Acterna's Le Foll, who concedes he had to make drastic changes in moving to open source software. "I had to change out half of the engineering team, and there was a lot of attrition, as some people just couldn't work under that type of model."
"Since so many telcos are really 'billing systems with phone networks attached,' there already exists programmers for maintaining computer systems; you really just need a couple of really skilled staffers to realize the benefits of open source. You have to be willing to pay for that engineering though," says Burger. He believes another weakness that will resolve itself is the lack of business-specific applications: "Ultimately, end users don't buy the OS; they buy applications, so the fact most open source applications are 'university code' can be an inhibitor." However, with increasing support from IBM, Sun and HP, that code is being polished.