Soft options, hard savings

Here are some Web-based services that small enterprises can use to reduce their operating costs without compromising on quality.

Sam Abraham        Print Edition: January 2011

Have you been walking the tightrope with your small enterprise-cutting costs and optimising resources-to rake in that precious mite of profit? If so, you will appreciate every bit of advice on shaving expenses. For business ventures that rely on computer technology, here are some software options that could help you scoop considerable savings without compromising on quality. Find out how you can dispense with proprietary products in favour of free services.

Open Source Software (OSS): You could call it the equivalent of community living. These programs don't belong to anyone and as the source codes are available for improvement, they are often better than the proprietary ones.

OpenOffice.org is a common OSS that substitutes for the Microsoft Office. It's ideal for entities dealing with clients who prefer the local language as it supports over 70 languages, including Hindi, Marathi, Nepali, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam. This is because the project's members, mostly volunteers, belong to all parts of the world. The switch can save you about $250 (Rs 11,000) for every user.


Open source software offers more flexibility compared with proprietary ones and adds a negligible amount to your expenses
Sonali Minocha
Co-Founder & Head, MySQL Practice, OSSCube
There are other OSS options that are as cost-effective. When a semiconductor chip manufacturing company shifted the maintenance of its online portals to OSS, it saved close to $1.5 million per year, claims Sonali Minocha, co-founder & head, MySQL Practice, OSSCube, a global company that develops customised open source software for clients.

You could search for OSS alternatives through sites such as Freewarehome.com, which index popular, global open source freeware and shared software. A word processor is just the beginning. From games and calculators to operating systems, there is an OSS alternative for almost every function.

Cloud Computing: You could save several thousands of rupees every month simply by adopting cloud computing. It's the process of sharing resources over the Internet, instead of operating individual units, and involves moving servers from a server farm to a cloud service provider.

Apart from cutting down on hardware expense, you can save on space, as well as electricity and maintenance costs. Such services typically offer better uptime and response time at much lower costs. You can even use these to create back-up files. Some of the popular cloud service providers include Microsoft, Salesforce, Skytap, HP, IBM, Amazon and Google, while Mozy.com, Carbonite. com and JungleDisk.com specialise in providing data back-up.

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