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OSS Is Changing The Game

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Zack, the three examples you give appear to me as signs that OSS is under attack by vendors who don’t gork the value of an open community & the customer value delivered. Yep, even the MSFT deal with Zend.

You’re correct that OSS is changing the game, but if the OSS community sticks to its vision of a 100% OSS world, in which commercial software is something your father used, then you’re going to see aggressive moves by vendors like Oracle & Microsoft bent on protecting their turf. The truth is that the future of the software market lies in the mutual existence of the OSS & commercial software business models. Neither is going away anytime soon, or ever. So, if we accepted this outcome, and toned down the rhetoric, there would be a better chance of educating vendors like Microsoft & Oracle to the benefits of adding open source products into their product lines without poisoning the communities that develop said products.

At the end of the day, customers want high quality software, support, performance, reliability, scalability and availability for the best price. Sometimes OSS will be the answer for the project. Other times it will be a commercial product. It comes down to customer choice.

One can argue that customers are better off with OSS because they can see the code and aren’t locked-in. However, I think that’s a simplistic view, and for the average customer, one that isn’t supported in practice and especially since mature OSS vendors inevitably start looking very much like mature commercial vendors.

Take a look at what IBM WebSphere did with our support for Apache Geronimo, and building an IBM product based on Geronimo. Not only has the WebSphere Application Server revenue growth remained healthy compared to our commercial & open source competition, we’ve been able to truly get involved and help the Geronimo community innovate. Customers have been big winners here (well, so have we!).

There’s a lesson for Microsoft & Oracle in the success of IBM WebSphere & WAS Community Editionif they’d only peer out from under the bed.

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I am taking a semi-break from IBM life as I return to finish a PhD in Industrial Engineering. I’ve held roles in market intelligence, strategy and product management. I’m ex-product manager of IBM WAS Community Edition, and blog about enterprise open source topics.

OSS Is Changing The Game
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