Saturday, February 03, 2007
Software and when things go wrong...
Open source has a better model than the notion of one stop which I defy anyone with any brains to truly say that it is a successful model. Closed source requires the ability to call someone when things go wrong and depend on them to fix it. This is in many ways more evil than outsourcing to India where at least they will make an valiant effort even if they are clueless.
Shouldn't support be thought of as not only someone to call when things break, but more importantly someone to call to help you use the software? Traditionally, consulting firms and integrators have played this role, but now open source vendors serve to take away the revenues from consulting firms. Maybe this is the reason you are not seeing the likes of Accenture, Wipro and Infosys forming strong partnerships with software vendors who embrace the open source model.
The Ruby on Rails community shouldn't have let me get away with mentioning why partnerships don't exist and instead should have instead figured out ways to get small consulting firms on the radar of large enterprises for their own benefit. Still, this begs the question of why consulting firms are not only part of the solution, they too can be considered part of the problem.
Consider, if you want to have a holistic enterprise security model where you need to merge ECM and Security, would the consulting firm help you find a solution. The answer is yes. They would help each and every enterprise they run across to reinvent the wheel.
Each large enterprise follows in lock step with their competitors, outsourcing systems that are expensive to maintain, but otherwise aren't competitive advantage. Would it make more sense to figure out how to collaborate with your competitors and develop one implementation in an open source way instead of simply making it cheaper to maintain redundancy? I wonder if industry analysts have ever asked a CIO, would you consider open source over outsource?
There are a variety of consulting firms that will help you develop an open source strategy. Mostly, these strategies revolve around consumption of open source software and almost never go near business reasons why to contribute to open source software. Is it because there isn't any business value for a large enterprise whose primary business model isn't technology to contribute? Absolutely not, as all one has to do is study the likes of Aviva who contributed an ESB to JBoss, or Duke Energy who contributed a .NET framework, or Merrill Lynch who contribute OpenMQ and the list goes on. Maybe the real reason consulting firms are holding back on strategies is either they feel they will be displaced and therefore fall back to protectionism and/or simply are ignorant to the trends within the marketplace. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I will assume ignorance over sabotage.
Maybe the fault lies in the court of industry analysts. After all, they have more visibility across enterprises than anything else. What would happen if they decided to be open. Imagine if say Gartner published a study stating that large enterprises aren't happy with the security models of ECM vendors and enumerated many of the pain points. Would this be the epitomy of being open in the industry analyst profession?
We can only hope that coverage of problems and not just products will emerge soon in the world of being an analyst. In my humble opinion, I suspect it will be a race between the 451 Group and Redmonk but it will be difficult to know which firm would be more willing to risk the revenues that are provided by these vendors simply to live up to being open. Maybe a first start would be for an industry analyst to tell the blogosphere their own line in terms of what they will not talk about as the first step in embracing open source analysis...
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