Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Enterprise Architecture: Why do businesses shy away from open source?

Awhile back, Chuqui in his blog commented on why businesses shy away from open source. I figured I would provide my own two cents...

I think there are three different perspectives that he should have mentioned.

Many enterprisey folks aren't capable of researching the marketplace for themselves and therefore rely on large analyst firms to put things into nice charts and graphs for them. If the large analyst firms don't have enough integrity to also list open source projects in their matrix then enterprisey folks will not even learn about what benefits them.

Another perspective says that the vast majority of enterprise architects nowadays aren't even technical and therefore cannot download software themselves and get things to work. With the advent of outsourcing, folks in the US represent agendas vs architectures and outsource the details to other folks. Many of us have even gotten good at outsourcing the need to socialize in corporate America by putting this responsibility into the hands of strategic vendors partners who will gladly come in and show their thinly veiled chock-a-block eye candy powerpoint presentations that lack substance so that we don't have to.

Think about how much work I avoid say if I wanted to bring Smalltalk to my enterprise. Which would be easier, to line up someone like James Robertson and waste a lot of his time under the guise of a sale or for me to do this myself? Maybe I should noodle dragging in David Hansson Heinemier to get us enterprisey folks to pay attention to Ruby on Rails. I wonder what trinkets would he leave with us?

Anyway, the third perspective that wasn't discussed is a simple fact of how budgeting occurs in corporate America. Imagine if I wanted to prove out something in the federated identity space. I could either request a consulting firm to come in and build something for me which if I didn't use could blow threw money. Likewise, I could find a nice expensive closed source vendor to do a free proof of concept and not spend a cent.

Folks in the open source community tend to only think about the cost of software and how this is attractive to large enterprises. This is tiny in the overall budget. What matters is in reducing our costs for integration and consulting. Remember that humans cost more than technology nowadays. If I can get folks to do work for free, then this will challenge the open source business model...

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