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Monday, August 07, 2006

Open Source For The Enterprise: Not Yet

Last week's SandHill.com Op-Ed by Guy Smith doomed the enterprise software industry to a future dominated by open source. A collective rebuttal by the Enterprise Irregulars to the argument asserts that any obituary of enterprise software is premature indeed as can be seen here. Excellent read from various set of people – each of them quite involved in the enterprise software industry in different ways.

I was particularly intrigued by two recurring themes in Guy's piece – Enterprise software is almost commoditized and that most of the IT needs of enterprises can be met through open source. As I see it, while the hype and recall value of open source is high, in reality the software ecosystem has not changed much sans some minor changes. The limitation of the open source movement is its failure to communicate in good measure the propensity to help enterprises foster innovation and help them create differentiated solutions. The lack of stratified solution/support and the one size fit-all solution offering shall not carry conviction as a dependable approach in the enterprise space. The business model paradigm of open source players minus the much-touted entry price difference is hardly anything to write about.(In reality, there may not be much difference from a total-cost-of-ownership perspective - the delta, if seen, can be directly attributed to the stratospheric licensing and maintenance fees of commercial enterprise software players.) Software requires so much of associated work to be adopted for effective usage within enterprises adopting them - these can certainly not be coming form a commoditized family let alone coming from a mere standardized family. Enterprises adopt software to cater to support/enablement of differentiated processes and create distinctive value and a mere set of standardized mass developed software amenable for customization would hardly qualify to be called a solution fit for enterprise adoption.

Look at it from a service provider perspective: a contractual obligation binds them to offer services that could encompass delivery of solutions to a set order and scheme and to a definitive budget and time frame. Any consulting firm commits to delivery to its customers based on relationships and experience of deploying similar/ related solutions centered around the technology/supplier products - the risk, responsibility and rewards are in a tacit/direct way co-shared depending on the working arrangement. With open source solutions, the service providers/consultants need to take a massive leap of faith - more so with massive/time-compressed/aggressive/critical deployments planned - one that would be seen from first principles to be fraught with fundamental risks. Read more in The Deep End blog.

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
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