Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Open source is good for IT

I gave a presentation at OSBC (open source business conference) last week. I don't often speak at conferences, but I have been working on an open source strategy for 4 years and believed that presenting that plan might help other CTOs/CIOs in their open source plans. Two bloggers (Matt Asay and Zack Urlocker) reviewed my presentation at and .

First, Kaplan was not the only company describing their use of open source. Other included CBS interactive, Paypal, Weather Channel interactive, NY times, Electronic Arts, LA times, Christian Science Monitor. In addition, a full 40% of attendees were IT workers, not open source vendors.

In my presentation, I laid out the case for open source, my 3 step plan deploying open source, my experience with vendors and challenges with open source (good summaries on two blogs linked above). I got a myriad of questions from the audience at the end. Our chief architect, Gautam Guliani, was there to answer as well when we were approached privately after general Q&A.

The most difficult question during general Q&A was from Matt Asay, OSBC organizer and also an open source vendor. He asked me the following:- "If an open source platform is stable and my team experienced with it, would I continue to pay annual support fees?". Unfortunately for the vendors, the answer was "no". It truly is a contradiction because if customers don't pay a vendor, they'll go out of business and their products will not be further developed. Frankly, I don't have a better answer. But that said, IMO, open source is a model that is here to stay. Vendors are diving into it and making money, although nowhere near Microsoft's current profit margins.

Open source is good for IT (the customer), period. I believe it is us, IT customers, who are driving open source adoption. In a way, it reminds me of the music industry, and how digital music was driven not by the big music companies, but by consumers.

My question now is:- What are large software companies like Oracle and Microsoft going to do about it?

No comments: