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The "Future of Open Source" Revisited: Added Value?

04.23.2009
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I have been reading through (and thinking about) this article on "the future of open source", I considered adding a couple of thoughts both personal and from point of view of a person that also has to make strategic technology and product decisions. As we have heavily been into using the NetBeans / Glassfish tool chain lately (and intend to keep on doing so for as long as possible), surely we are to some degree concerned by Oracle acquiring Sun. When deciding to go for Java EE, we also had a look at the Oracle product stack and, after all, made a conscious decision for Sun for a bunch of reasons, the fact that both products are open-sourced definitely being one of them.

As I already pointed out elsewhere, I think Sun made a bunch of fundamental mistakes about their open souce strategy which is causing some uncertainty right now, especially as far as governance of their open source projects is concerned. Surely there are good reasons for that, but yet, otherwise things eventually would be easier by now. Looking at this, we also so far made a conclusion on future decisions: Right now, we are looking into Apache Geronimo and ObjectWeb JOnAS as likely candidatese to replace Glassfish as Java EE servers (when / if Oracle does something making this step required) and, obviously, Eclipse as the IDE to go with (when / if Sun being acquired by Oracle might put an end to NetBeans as we know it now). No offense to Oracle, I see that most of the JDeveloper folks I know are kind and helpful people, and their Java EE stack also is pretty good at times.But, however, as an SME so far we always have been searching for partners (both related to hardware and software) we could handle. Sun did work. Oracle is way too big for that, from my current point of view. 

Plus, there is another issue about that: Adding value. One of the commenters in J.M. Arranz' article raised the question of paying for "value added" to open source software. I definitely agree, and I see this a valid and extremely important point. What is adding value to open source software? Buzzwory as it is, both here in our own environment and regarding our customers I see people more and more talking about what some use to call "bussiness-IT-alignment", having a more "pragmatic" look at technology: It's not hardware, software or software products that matter. It's IT solutions that matter, addressing a given business need, covering business use cases, providing value to the company. From this point of view, hardware is pretty "generic". For this domain we do have reliable vendors keeping our servers running, we simply won't have to worry about this. Likewise, we're using variants of the Debian GNU/Linux operating system on most of our servers for the same reason: We master this, and asides this it's just there, it works, we don't have to think twice. SQL databases and Java EE servers fall into the same category - they have to be around and do their work, and yet they are generic infrastructure for our own applications addressing our own business needs. The fact that there is quite a set of good to great open source technologies available here makes choosing this "generic" infrastructure rather easy...

But, however, I wanted to think about "adding value". What does add value to a product, value which we really would see as value, which we are ready and willing to pay for (and actually do at the moment)?

  • Strange as it sounds: Vendor independence is one of these values. From this point of view, we'd rather pay some company to provide us support for an open-source Glassfish or, maybe in near future, for an Apache Geronimo installment (which in the end would allow us to search for another vendor providing support for the same product given the need) rather than buying a proprietary full stack at Oracle or IBM.
  • Scalable operation support is one of these values, "scalable", here, meaning to make a custom balance between budget spent on support and benefit gained from it. In example, right now we wouldn't need to have an SLA including a 4-hour assured fix time in case of critical issues as our environment allows for compensating a fix even just next business day. Asides this, "scalable" support here also includes having a community at hand for getting (as well as offering) support on things which aren't critical in terms of time / schedule.
  • Developer support is an extremely valuable asset to have. As pointed out, business value arises from the applications deployed to the "generic" infrastructure, and creating these applications in a fast, robust, extensible manner is extremely helpful for quickly addressing changing business needs. What we experienced so far, Sun support did rather well at this.
  • Reliable, stable, verbose, complete documentation is an additional value to have. NetBeans, in example, might still have some weaknesses compared to Eclipse in some respects, but one thing's for sure: Documentation is excellent. There is a whole lot of documentation available on the website, there is a very extensive API documentation for platform developers, and there is a growing set of up-to-date books on both platform and IDE.
From this point, future seems clear to me. Vendor independence is an "added value" just to be gained from relying upon an open source application and paying someone to provide you with support. This kind of approach, however, just works while choosing a product which basically is open-source and not predominantly maintained by a given vendor. So no matter where we are heading if we eventually have to make a new decision, the general direction is clear: We will go for tools and applications developed by open source foundations or consortiums and search for partners to provide us with the set of "added value" left after evaluating our requirements against the budget available. And, completely not sure where things are heading for these projects, I still have some hope to, then, be capable of dealing with Glassfish or NetBeans again... at least, "Codehaus Glassfish" reads pretty good to me.
Published at DZone with permission of its author, Kristian Rink.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

Comments

Jakob Jenkov replied on Thu, 2009/04/23 - 3:35am

I understand what you are saying, but you are viewing the open source / free software problem from the consumers eyes, not the "vendor".

Of course any consumer would go for the cheaper of two equally great products. Of course many small companies cannot afford WebSphere, Oracle or BEA.

But you are forgetting, that you are now already experiencing one of the possible downsides to a free product:  Sun ran out of steam. Now Oracle owns your stack (NetBeans, Glassfish, MySQL), and you don't know what is going to happen to it. Now you are talking about changing to a different stack. Is that going to be entirely free? No, I don't think so. Try counting all the hours you guys spend researching and learning Apache Geronimo, Eclipse, and PostgreSQL. All that money could have been spend on new development, if you just stayed with your current stack.

We are fools to believe that free software is really "free" to use. Too much free software does not have proper documentation, or lacks the last 1-2-3 needed features, or the project slows down or dies, forcing us to spend time (and thereby MONEY) to switch to another product etc.

I have sometimes spend days trying to get stuff to run on Linux that is "free", while my friends get the same kind of stuff running in 1-2 hours on a windows machine. Yes, I am no Linux genius, and somehow it strikes me as rather hard to become...?!?  But that's beside the point. The point is:

Remember the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) when calculating the price of software. Some of the factors to include is:

TCO =
   Purchasing price +
   Learning price +
   Installation price +
   Usage price +
   Administration price +
   Uninstall price +
   (plus whatever more I forgot)

 

When you look at the calculation like that, the purchase price is often the smallest number in the equation. But we tend to ignore that. We have to pay salaries anyways, right? So working hours seem to be "free". But trading working hours for zero purchase price, which is often the case with the sometimes poorly documented free software out there, just means we are getting less done that year. You become a slower company, because you are unwilling to invest in the shortcut a high quality, well documented commercial product can provide your company. And what happens to slower companies?

In fact, the more I mess around with Linux, the more those $800-1000 for an MS Windows license seem cheap!  There are so many things that I just can't get to work... oh, it's Suse? Then it's different. This book is only about RedHat / Fedora. Or the installation doesn't work like the book described. Or I can't compile the source code for that product etc. etc. etc.

Granted, sometimes it is the other way around. Some genious developed some cool thing, and decided to share it with the world for free. But that mostly happens with smaller software.

And here is one more question to the open source community: Why the h...ll do some of you guys think that your software should only be distributed as "source code"?? Provide a use ready build ... especially with Java, that should be really easy to do!

 

Martin Wildam replied on Thu, 2009/04/23 - 4:03am

I don't think that Sun did so many mistakes and not sure about Oracle being too big, but I agree completely with the rest of the article, thanks!

Although related to the other 4 points, maybe  a fifth point could consider safety of the IT investments in the long-term view (investing into development of Open source OS and platform independence, having large communities, ...).

Jose Maria Arranz replied on Thu, 2009/04/23 - 4:33am

Kristian, as you have point out basically you are willing to pay for developer support, and it is fine and is a real "value added".

The fact is good software doesn't need very much support if the software is well done and the documentation is fine. Who pays for MS Office support?

The unpleasant true, good open source software with a good documentation implies

  => no very much problems and some hope to fix your problems investigating in the source code => no very much need for paid support.

  => no very much need for training.

In Spain there are tons of consulting firms, but a very very small number of companies based on products.

Sometimes consulting firms are based on people with almost no experience doing CRUD, CRUD and CRUD with the worst tool for reusing: copy & paste.

The end client sometimes pays an expensive bill for a custom made software. The fact is the most part (or fully) of this bill pays the CRUD part. 

 

Kristian Rink replied on Thu, 2009/04/23 - 5:13am in response to: Jose Maria Arranz

Jose;

I think a difference has to be made about "off-the-shelf" software, i.o.w. boxed stuff sold and used without too much ado, and software which just serves as a foundation for a bigger whole but is next to meaningless in its "raw" state. Office is "boxed" software (nevertheless I know quite some companies buying Office training at least once in a while in order to have their people effectively working, say, with Excel or Word). About application platforms, however, I think the kind of knowledge that really gets you goin' is very specialized consulting regarding application architecture, performance optimizations and "good" implementation of a given set of features.

This is something you don't get off documentation, reading or even discussing with folks on a mailing list. These are issues you only effectively get addressed dealing with people who are knee-deep into this technology, who have done a solid load of "big" projects using this very technology, who have both knowledge and experience (in terms of best practises, good architecture patterns etc...) at hand and are motivated to share this. Right now we're into migrating a pretty complex application consisting of customizing code added to a legacy / proprietary application platform to Java EE, and despite Glassfish is utterly well documented, it doesn't get us any further in these situations in which we encounter problems. The real benefit arises from people answering these questions to us. And, overally, I guess this also is why there are so many consulting and so little "pure software" companies out there. It's not just a more "effective" business in terms of earning money, it also (at least to me) seems a more effective business from a customers point of view. Paying for a scenario like this I do have a real chance of getting something done. Paying a set of money for a bare-bone application stack I'm not even close to having this introduced into my business environment... :)

K.

Kristian Rink replied on Thu, 2009/04/23 - 5:21am in response to: Jakob Jenkov

Now you are talking about changing to a different stack. Is that going to be entirely free? No, I don't think so. Try counting all the hours you guys spend researching and learning Apache Geronimo, Eclipse, and PostgreSQL. All that money could have been spend on new development, if you just stayed with your current stack.

Of course open source is not "free-as-in-free-beer" regarding these things, that's for sure. But in terms of buying an application platform, the fact that I have to pay money for, say, licensing and "owning" the stack" doesn't eliminate this problem. No matter whether I have to migrate, say, from Glassfish to WebLogic (which I will have to pay for) or from Glassfish to Geronimo (which is open-source and will not generate at least licensing fees), chances are likely that this will generate a similar amount of effort (deploying the new server across machines, getting things configured in a working way, training stuff to actually get work done with the new platform, knowing where to look if anything goes wrong, modifying custom applications to run with the new platform and actually getting them deployed there,...). And, what happens? In worst case I go for, say, JBoss, just to see Oracle acquiring RedHat by tomorrow, making me have to go through this even once more?

No, that's not what I want. From that point of view, I really want to pay for what really causes costs, and what will be have to paid in both situations no matter whether proprietary or not. But I want to choose a technology that makes the chance of having to do this again as small as somehow possible. As we just have seen (BEA, Sun, maybe RedHat), solutions provided by a given company are likely to be not "stable" enough for this. At the moment we're migrating from a legacy platform to Java EE also for these reasons - the platform we were using so far practically is in "maintaineance" mode, essential features aren't updated anymore, and there is no sane migration path to any successor platform. So, of course I am looking at it from customers point of view... but we're "sensible" enough by now to try to stay the h**l away from any vendor lock-in...

 

K.

Alessandro Santini replied on Thu, 2009/04/23 - 8:18am in response to: Jose Maria Arranz

Jose,

I reply to you because my thoughts have originated reading your reply, but I think they have a broader extent.

While reading these posts and all the blurb around the Oracle/Sun acquisition and the Open Source destiny, I have the feeling that the most of us have lost what I see as the most important goal in software development: supporting business.

I very often have the feeling that, the Java community in particular, is instead rotating around the utterly complex technology stack they have created for various reasons.

When someone blames those people with no experience doing CRUD and CRUD, I have the impression are forgetting that it is what companies are most willing to pay for. If you exclude large customers where tech decisions are more based on a political and support capacity perspective, many customer literally do not give a sh*t about what application server you are going to deploy; they just want an application addressing their business needs and which performs fast.

Yes, there are then the big fishes with complex architectures, standards compliance, etc. - but the proliferation of web frameworks and the large unavailability of robust and well done backend frameworks for business industries makes me think that, after all, if Glassfish will die and Geronimo will resurrect is some news that won't get past the geeks websites; all-in-all, it is much more difficult to be expert in a business industry than writing yet another general purpose framework.

Just one last pointer: I do not think that open source is a necessity; I think that open standards with rigorous specifications are.

George Shen replied on Thu, 2009/04/23 - 9:24am in response to: Alessandro Santini

I 100% agree with you on this point,  open standard is the key for innovation, not "free" open source software. 

>Just one last pointer: I do not think that open source is a necessity; I think that open standards with rigorous >specifications are.

Kristian Rink replied on Thu, 2009/04/23 - 9:42am in response to: George Shen

Dto. That's why I overally and still consider Java EE to be a pretty good thing, relating to application development.

K.

George Shen replied on Thu, 2009/04/23 - 12:34pm in response to: Kristian Rink

Yup, USB is a great example and it still allows startup companies to develop affordable products to improve people's lives and generate sustainable revenues at the same time.

Kristian Rink replied on Thu, 2009/04/23 - 1:20pm in response to: Jakob Jenkov

Something I overlooked yet find to be important:

 

 

... When you look at the calculation like that, the purchase price is often the smallest number in the equation. But we tend to ignore that. We have to pay salaries anyways, right? So working hours seem to be "free". But trading working hours for zero purchase price, which is often the case with the sometimes poorly documented free software out there, just means we are getting less done that year. ...

 

 Yes... that's the very point in my opinion. But, assuming that purchase prce always is the smallest position in this TCO equation (which I tend to agree with), why, in the end, should selling proprietary software be of interest to anyone? From a vendor point of view, that's not where the real money is. From a customer point, this is not where the real expenses are (which I am convinced they are the same no matter whether choosing an open source or a proprietary application development stack). So, what reason could I eventually have to go for a proprietary stack instead of choosing an open source product and choosing a consultant who knows his stuff? It's the same about Windows and Linux. What about these $800 ... 1000 for purchasing a license? What will you get for that? A piece of software on which you are sure to spend some time for installing it on your computer, eventually purchasing and installing additional applications, spending a couple of hours until, eventually, everything works as expected? Talking about, say, Ubuntu (which is my favorite workstation Linux at the moment), installing a base system leaves you with a fully functional workstation sufficient for at least getting office work, communication work and development work (talking about Java, Python, ...) done. In this situation, even if you add, say, two or three hours paid to a consultant in order to get your system set up and configured right, you're still not even close to the money you spent on a bare-bone Windows license... 

K.

 

 

Alessandro Santini replied on Thu, 2009/04/23 - 1:37pm in response to: George Shen

USB is an open standard, not open source.

Otengi Miloskov replied on Thu, 2009/04/23 - 5:21pm

I wrote this in another thread but If you make software and you opt for an OSS license it means you will give your work for free to the world it is that plain and simple!.

If you want to make money from your work and dont want to share with the world accept a propetary license and be done with this stupidity.

OSS for make money or business it is flawed.

Cloves Almeida replied on Thu, 2009/04/23 - 7:41pm

You have two business cases for open source in a business environment. First, general purpose software "infrastructure" - like programming languages and libraries (according to TIOBE index, open languages like Java, C, C++, Python, etc. account for over 75% of popularity). Why? Because there's a critical mass of students, professors, hobbists and consultants that have the same problem, little money for spending on tools, a lot of free time, can't make money out of this software and know that being part of a successful open source project is good for their career.

Since these students are going to be the future decision-makers, they opt for what they know by heart. Add the no vendor lock-in, and high grade professional support available for some projects, and the unbeatable price tag, no wonder why business might consider open source.

The second case for open source is, ironically, the failed product that went open. Imagine you're a startup developing a software along with a few dozen. Most will lose the rat race and will have no cash for administrative, selling or supporting staff - paying customers do require that, you know.

Now you have a good, but not the best, product and you can't sell enough, what do you do? One alternative is cutting all expenses but a couple of good developers, open source your software trying to build a good user base, hope that some company will adopt your software and hire you as a consultant.

Your consulting company might not be the next Oracle and get you filthy rich as Mr. Ellison. But if things work out as planned, you can make a decent money out of it and work with something that makes you proud. Much better than life as an IBM goon, err, programmer.

 

Kristian Rink replied on Fri, 2009/04/24 - 1:15am in response to: Otengi Miloskov

Maybe I'm too rude about this, but from my point of view, selling software so far only works in a couple of niche markets where people depend upon very specialized solutions offered by a couple of vendors. After all, what is likely to happen: Would you be capable of, say, creating an Office suite to compete with Microsoft Office and sell this using a proprietary license? You most likely would get nowhere next to this, you eventually would run out of business even before being somewhere close to having a product even worth considering selling it. And, in the end, people still might end up ignoring you for various reasons (because there is a "predominant" product "everyone uses", because there is Google Apps offering the same functionality as SaaS on-line for free, ...) or they might give a try pirating your software. 

Consider another way: Make a really good specialized piece of software, give it away for free and charge people for helping them getting the most out of this tool. In this situation, everyone will benefit - you will get money from it, they'll get real value from it (being more productive, getting work done rather than just having a bunch of bits or even worse just a license key), it'll be more difficult for people to "steal" your application, and eventually you'll also have a better chance of dealing with large competitors (as, after all, it is obvious that you're addressing a niche market providing personalized, specialized solutions for customers who need solutions not products). In this case, OSS will help you as it will, given your project is good and interesting enough, attract a community and developers who will keep your code growing and fixed - and this, from your point of view, for absolutely free...

K.

Andy Gibson replied on Fri, 2009/04/24 - 1:52pm

but from my point of view, selling software so far only works in a couple of niche markets

 Only because the other markets ended up having to compete with people willing to give software away.One could also say that Open Source only works in a couple of niche markets. Selling software has worked for decades until people thought it might be beneficial to give it away. Inversely, the OS business model hasn't worked in a decade except for a handful of cases. Either way, the companies using free products haven't offered the same benefits in return, have you seen the benefits of lower TCO in the products you buy or services you use?

The reason companies charge $1000 for a piece of software is so they can get a piece of the pie. Offering services as the only revenue stream means they are not guaranteed to get anything for their work since they have to compete with everyone else to get support contracts. If I start offering JBoss or Spring support I could do so by undercutting those companies because after all, I don't have a dev team writing all this code. 

If you want a successful open source business, go write some code, put it on a server, give it away and then go be a plumber or an electrician. Why not? Why should the side business even have to be related to the core OS business? Sound ridiculous? Yes, but that is how ridiculous the OS business model is. Look at Google, they give away free stuff and run an advertising business on the side to support the development.

Even the term Open Source is a mess, why is everyone hyperventilating about Sun being bought by Oracle and fearing they might not keep it open source? Sun only Open Sourced Java last year! How did not being Open Source affect java up till that point? Seems it did pretty well, it was always given away free, but it wasn't Open Source. What's the worse they can do? Close the source and go back to how it was for the last 14 years during which Java saw massive growth? 

Lets say you create a software product, and you need $X amount of dollars per actual user to survive.  If you make that optional, a fraction of those users taking you up on it will vastly decrease (10%?). Since you need $X, you now have to charge $10X, at which point you might lose another 90%, so now you need to charge $100X. Instead of charging $50 a pop, you had to charge $500 and then $5000. The reality is more likely that this won't work, and instead you will be faced with not receiving enough income, and at some point, your business won't survive. Forcing all users to pay a small cost will work better than forcing some users to pay an exhorbitant cost.

Consider if Ford chose to give away cars and make it up in maintenance and service contracts. Imagine how expensive those contracts would have to be to cover the costs of making the car as well as the cost of the maintenance work, and also the manufacturing costs for cars given to people people who chose not to buy a Ford maintenance contract. Really, how long would that last? Ford would go out of business, and other car companies  would suffer as they face declining sales in competing with free cars from Ford. 

Really, all you are talking about is giving something away for free, and then shafting the handful of customers that actually buy the service contract. They are paying an inflated price to cover the cost of development that everyone else is benefiting from.

Simple math + human nature demonstrates why Open Source fails.

 

Jose Maria Arranz replied on Fri, 2009/04/24 - 2:36pm

@Andy Gibson: Really, all you are talking about is giving something away for free, and then shafting the handful of customers that actually buy the service contract. They are paying an inflated price to cover the cost of development that everyone else is benefiting from. Simple math + human nature demonstrates why Open Source fails.

Some companies are not doing bad with this model, anyway I understand your reasoning but you suppose "Open Source = Free" and this may be not true ever.

@Andy Gibson:Forcing all users to pay a small cost will work better than forcing some users to pay an exhorbitant cost.

This is why my proposal is dual licensing.

The problem is dual licensing requires a cultural change on how open source is considered.

 

Cloves Almeida replied on Sat, 2009/04/25 - 7:31am

Andy,

you assume open source based companies just pop out of nowhere giving their hard work for free. Usually, open source is side to their busines. It's that piece of infrastructure that he has no will or manpower or is polished enough to sell. With the help of the community, when the project is production quality, they can start offering services based on it.

"Pure" open source companies, like Red Hat, piggybacks on the community for most of the development - and that's a good thing. They improve and create value out of failed companies, student and hobbists projects.

Some, like Suse, were just waiting to be bought by some big players like Novell. Think this is "failure"? Their pockets disagree. Canonical? It's Mr. Shuttleworth money and he doesn't give a damn. Oh! In fact, much of the expertise that allowed him to make so much money at Thawte was from being a lead Apache HTTPD mantainer.

Sure, there are the "open source" loosers. But I being "closed source" is no guarantee of success either, huh? Anyway, no body is forcing no one into paying exhorbitant costs. You always have the option of buying the closed source competitor.

Business is WAY more than simplistic math and faux deterministic human behavior.

Kristian Rink replied on Sun, 2009/04/26 - 3:27am in response to: Andy Gibson

@Andy: Liked reading your thoughts even though I don't agree with all of them. Some notes:

The reason companies charge $1000 for a piece of software is so they can get a piece of the pie. Offering services as the only revenue stream means they are not guaranteed to get anything for their work since they have to compete with everyone else to get support contracts.

Yes. But companies selling proprietary software aren't guaranteed to get back anything, either. And, I think, consequently thought up the "open source" idea also by this assumes a different business model: Consider not a company developing software to put it up "for free", waiting to monetize off selling services then, but a service or solution provider mainly doing custom development and integration work and creating (and eventually open-source'ing) a custom framework because they never intended to mainly do "stock" software development after all? From this point of view, the company who created and published this framework won't lose money this way (because they will continue doing their business the way they did before) but, in best case, benefit by others making their code better, and the rest of the world eventually benefits from having a helpful tool at hand that they can build upon, that they can improve and reuse at their own will. For what I see, a lot of "enterprise computing" open source applications have come to life just like that...

Sun only Open Sourced Java last year! How did not being Open Source affect java up till that point? Seems it did pretty well, it was always given away free, but it wasn't Open Source.

Yes. But they obviously did so for "governance" reasons, being in fear of losing control of what Java might become, sooner or later. Ironically, looking at various open source "Java re-implementations" and, ultimately, the core of Google Android, this kind of behaviour seems to even have pushed forth what they tried at best to avoid (preventing Java from being made "incompatible").

Consider if Ford chose to give away cars and make it up in maintenance and service contracts. Imagine how expensive those contracts would have to be to cover the costs of making the car as well as the cost of the maintenance work, and also the manufacturing costs for cars given to people people who chose not to buy a Ford maintenance contract.

This comparison doesn't work out. Selling software at the very least in terms of "enterprise computing" isn't like selling a  car, a VCR or a DVD player. From a customers point of view, buying a VCR ends with actually having the product paid and "at home". If you go for, say, a Java EE application server, "buying" your platform is only the first start, with the majority of your work still to be done. And this is my main argument here: I am not talking about giving things away for "free" as in free beer. I am talking about charging customers for values they get in return. Given I want a car because I have to travel around day-to-day, the value I get for buying a Ford is pretty much there. Given I need to build a complex (internal or customer specific) application to solve a complex set of business use cases, what value do I get from that? This seems like, if being in need of a car, my Ford retailer suddenly would stop selling cars and start selling blank engines instead - if I needed to travel around, buying an engine is nice but doesn't get me anywhere. The value in enterprise computing I see in having a car (solution that does what it needs to do) rather than just an engine (a piece of software off-the-shelf). 

K.

Jose Maria Arranz replied on Mon, 2009/04/27 - 3:18am

@Kristian Rink: The value in enterprise computing I see in having a car (solution that does what it needs to do) rather than just an engine (a piece of software off-the-shelf).

I don't buy this argument, it seems only the last step in the production chain has some value, and this is not true, any production chain is a value chain, any step adds some value. In a car the engine is the most valued part.

Following this reasoning a naked Windows operating system has no value because it doesn't include the application you need.

Why do you pay very much money for a typical specific CRUD application and a very small fee for a Windows license? Is added value?

NO! Is Economy of Scale. Any company going to buy the Windows business would pay many billions of dollars to Microsoft, of course Microsoft is just not selling Windows to you, the CRUD application is just for you. 

Why do you pay so very much money for the support contract of an open source project? Does it add so much value? Not ever, the price is not just fixed by "the value" it adds to you, this money must pay many other things not related with the cost of supporting, for instance, the cost of development of the product.

If your open source product provider could charge something following a license model, the price of support contracts would be reduced dramatically.

 

Kristian Rink replied on Mon, 2009/04/27 - 4:03am in response to: Jose Maria Arranz

@Jose Maria:

 Following this reasoning a naked Windows operating system has no value because it doesn't include the application you need.

At the very least it has less value than, say, a Linux desktop machine (or, to stay in the realm of proprietary software, a Solaris workstaion) pre-installed with all the applications I need, pre-configured in a way so that I can simply go get work done. It doesn't mean the naked operating system has no value at all, but it does mean that the value of having a system completely and fully preconfigured is significant. 

Why do you pay so very much money for the support contract of an open source project? Does it add so much value? Not ever, the price is not just fixed by "the value" it adds to you, this money must pay many other things not related with the cost of supporting, for instance, the cost of development of the product.

This is in my opinion what I outlined above as the value of a given "vendor independence". I mean, after all, I think we agree upon that there is no such thing as a free lunch, even while using open source software without paying support fees there are costs to be covered, and be that costs spent on education, on learning, on figuring out how to get things done. I could also look at this from a pretty pragmatic point of view: Being in need to, say, spend money on software to be the foundation of a new application, we usually have a set of requirements to be met. The requirement of this software to be "vendor independent", i.e. to have a chance of choosing another partner to provide service for the technology chosen, is something that usually is on our agenda, and as far as we have seen by now, this is a kind of requirement, a "value" few companies seem up to offer... 

Alex(JAlexoid) ... replied on Fri, 2009/05/01 - 8:38am in response to: Jose Maria Arranz

Following this reasoning a naked Windows operating system has no value because it doesn't include the application you need.

 That is right! When I buy a computer, and most of people, they need it doing a bunch of things.

A naked Windows installation is worthless in most ofices. Why? There is no OFFICE installed!!! Don't you agree with that?

Imagine that you computer would come without any web browser? How would you find and install most software?

If your open source product provider could charge something following a license model, the price of support contracts would be reduced dramatically.

Really? Do you even know the pricing for support and software? MS Windows Retail vs OEM has upto 2x difference in price, it's even less for big PC manufacturers, and the price difference is based only on who provides support. Just try to find out how much is the support price for Oracle.

So reallity is the price of software is mostly the price of support. 

And if you compare most products vs their FOSS counterparts, the support is quite cheaper and you do get is a possiblity to ask for a particular feature without being a mega corporation. Try that with MS, Oracle or IBM!

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