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A cynic rips open source

Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, May 28, 2007
10:07 am

Howard Anderson discusses a panel discussion he hosted with senior executives of Cisco, Agilent Technologies and Novell. He took the cynical view of open source “religion,” postulating that market leaders don’t like open source because they want to protect proprietary technology. The jury is still out on whether enterprises really like or trust it.

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2 Responses to “A cynic rips open source”

    Hey Mark,
    This time I need to comment.
    After having argued BOTH sides of the OS divide, it is my opinion that USUALLY the proponents of each side are WRONG simply for the wrong reasons. A year ago I was asked to participate on a GArtner Conference Panel where the moderator made the comment that Open Source (OS) was good because then any given Enterprise can download and re-build the code to suit their needs. While this is in essence true, it is not the real reason to go with ANY OS (OS or Application). I have YET to see any “given enterprise” attempt to re-compile 100,000+ lines of Java or C code just to “suit their needs”.
    What these companies need and want is a safety net. This can come either with OS or not. The best example that comes to mind for me is from about 20 years ago in the heyday of VMS (Remember DEC?) As a fairly well qualified VMS system administrator/engineer it was quite often that my real support and help came NOT from the Engineers at DEC, but often from the community of other VMS’ers. It is the COMMUNITY that will give the safety net and THAT is just what either a “de facto” standard can give or a good OS product.
    At the same time the quote you made above (I know it is not you) “market leaders don’t like open source because they want to protect proprietary technology” is equally absurd and mistaken. Any given technology (and I mean ANY) that is proprietary today, will be broken, copied, and or reverse engineered if there is a value in doing so and a need to. Technology cannot stay proprietary and it is time we all learned this and face up to it.
    The consequences of this (funny enough) turn out to be exactly as Sun is trying to move these days. Do not make the technology Proprietary – make the talent that created it proprietary.

    Comment by Ben Pashkoff on May 29, 2007 at 7:34 am


    Thanks for your comments. I chose to post this article partially because I think Sun is still struggling with how to make Open Source work. Sun wasn’t mentioned in the article, but it is clear to me that Sun is definitely trying to compete with Microsoft and its proprietary software strategy at the same time we are trying to compete with other players (RedHat and others) in the Open Source marketplace. We also find ourselves competing with ourselves as Open Source projects are sometimes more appealing to customers than the corresponding commercial products.

    I agree with you that it is inevitable that Open Source will displace proprietary technology. I think what we need to do now, particularly at Sun, is to get very precise in how we will execute in the Open Source world. I think there is still too much “theory” and “conjecture” being tossed around and too few tactical details defined that we and our customers can execute against.

    I am working with a small task force in the US Software practice to address these issues. I’ll keep in touch.


    Comment by Mark Dixon on May 29, 2007 at 9:27 am

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