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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Pivoting The Architecture & Utility Model Of The Infrastructure Stack

Phil Wainewright writes about a recently concluded discussions at a conclave in Europe and highlights JP Rangaswami’s view viz architecture is more important than any individual IT vendor. Echoing Vinnie’s view, he rightly points out the need for the IT function to get to deliver faster, cheaper and better inside enterprises. With increasing pace towards "consumerization", users are expecting the same ease-of-use and rapid innovation from IT as they get from their mobile phone providers.I am yet to see a credible response to the question where's innovation in opensource. He beleives that open-source software shall play a pivotal role inside enterprises (Even on this count – I find if difficult to look at opensource as an answer) and imagines that in an opensource era would usher in a situation where code escrows are gone, pubic codes benefits still exist and can get better over time and bye to vendor lockins. If anything CIO’s are getting worried about opensource software creeping in solutions above the base stacks – warranting heavyduty maintenance and grappling with code creeps.
Instead of having to hand over huge license and maintenance fees to proprietary code, he believes that with the savings on licensing and maintenance for commercial vendors ,the option of turning to open-source alternatives, or even clubbing together within an industry to fund their own open-source project becomes a distinct possibility. I hold a different view – looking at opensource as a means to escape from the clutches of lockins with associated direct costs is actually the wrong reason to look at opensource. This applies a form of utility model to the software infrastructure stack, in which users collectively outsource the development of the stack to vendor-neutral open-source projects. Wishful thinking – As we noted earlier, opensource is not yet ready for enterprise.Declaring code based competitive advantage as gone, he cites business processes and shared expertise as the true differentiators for any modern business and advocates( agreed upto this) taking platform-independent approaches. Phil writies on top that this forces that we establish a some kind of statement of key principles – added role for OASIS ? - that will help systems architects and developers standardize on a vendor-neutral, generic architecture for their organizations and the applications within it. I firmly believe that opensource can never enter the application layers of the stack in a big way ever – if anything competition and market pressures are forcing enterprises to get the last juice out of existing enterprise applications – replacement of these applications with open source or their equivalents would be the biggest ever commercial opportunity that could be created in the IT industry. In fact, I foresee that in a theoretical way, if all applications begin to be opensourced – either through migration or pull factor – then substantial professional service resources would be required – creating a premium for such consultants to be available in such large numbers. That would potentially make things more costly to adopt opensource – the alternate could look more economical and better manageable in hindsight.

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