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Friday, September 08, 2006

Misguided Notions Of Open Source

Neil McAllister quotes from Eric S. Raymond landmark work, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, wherein he says that the most powerful motive for open source developers is the need to “scratch their own itch.” They begin writing software to address their unique needs. As they meet other like-minded developers, they begin to pool their efforts, forming communities. But itch-scratching only tells part of the story. The reality is that, in many cases, itch-scratching alone simply doesn’t work.
Pointing out that the end-users in need of additional features are generally left in the lurch and given free advice to develop on their own and contribute , he correctly points out the realities open source faces, when extended to the enterprise. Even the most often talked Massachusetts decion in favour of using opensource has hit a snag now put on hold, Clearly Open source needs the contributions and sponsorship of private enterprises to succeed . He is right in his conclusion that’s the notion of open source as a socialist utopia is a misguided one. The question of business model still lurks large for the open source ecosystem. As I wrote earlier,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.

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