I had a debate a few weeks back with a Microsoft value-added reseller. We were discussing the merits (or the lack thereof) of open source software in the business world. The general consensus on one side was that businesses need Microsoft and the VARs because open source software is undependable, and businesses need the support. My contention was a number of OS products are in fact quite dependable, and support is readily available. “What is a company going to do if their data processing system crashes?” was met with “If a company has a complicated system, won’t they have a sys admin and a DBA?”.
I’ve always been a fan of open source – I don’t buy into the FUD. And I’m glad others see value in the excellent projects that have come out of the concept. The latest “others” means Sun, who is now buying MySQL for a cool billion.
I use MySQL on the server which powers this blog. I also use it right on my OS X-powered notebook, for the purpose of performing data crunching/analysis tasks that a spreadsheet just can’t handle. A small pile of MySQL and third-party tools make working with it a snap. Neither are particularly good representation of scalable, reliable use in business, but then again I’m no DBA either. Hence, I’d love to hear of some super-sized applications the MySQL database is being used in, and would be particularly interested if anyone is using it in process intensive application like ERP.
I’m also hoping for another thing – that Sun keeps MySQL free.
UPDATE: Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun, has more.
Inexpensive hardware and software leads to quick time to market – on that there is no doubt. This, in turn, allows burgeoning new business ideas, and as Rich Karlgaard (and Glenn Reynolds) surmise, small business benefits the most. Big companies move slowly to the first investment, and they are still a bit scared of open source – they are more inclined to invest in proven opportunities. Chalk up another for small business, as solid models will get eaten up just as quickly as they launched.
Keep in mind that good business models require good ideas. Good ideas come from creative, intuitive minds that understand rigor. It is that resource that requires investment, and it is that resource that is slightly more dear.
I suspect we are going to see continuing business launches as a result, and a lot more failures as a percentage of the total. Only this time, the majority won’t lose their shirts in the process, and those that can bear the risks will move on to the next superior management team.
Apple users best watch out. The OS X platform is gaining popularity in droves, and particularly with
hackers security experts. The reasons are clear. It is a UNIX base, user friendly, and virtually every open source tool that one needs is available for a Mac unit, via Fink, DarwinPorts, or otherwise.
While I use a Powerbook, and feel pretty secure, I doubt I am going to thwart a pro. Apple may have the same problem – they aren’t used to all this attention.
I’ve knocked Microsoft more than a few times, but unlike others, it isn’t out of some kind of “hatred.” Its more being dumbfounded that they haven’t seen the writing on the wall – open yourselves up and the money will still come. Slow to move, and now stuggling to find themselves once again.
On that note, it is with great pleasure that I found Microsoft may finally be getting a clue. Their development tools have always been cake to use, and adding a UNIX-based open source scripting language to the mix ain’t going to hurt them.
The US government, as well as 19 state governments and a slew of foriegn ones, has spent tens (maybe hundreds) of millions of dollars slamming the Microsoft monopoly. They got a few weak orders, and Microsoft still stands, relatively the same as it was.
It took ragtag teams of software engineers to create Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, OpenOffice, FreeBSD, Perl, Python, Eclipse, and on and on and on. As Jeff Matthews so aptly points out, some of the most creative applications around likely aren’t using Microsoft products at all. They are likely using the “stuff” mentioned above.
A politician once took credit for the internet. I wonder how long until one tries taking credit for open source.
I have been wondering about what Oracle is up to for a while now. Despite admiring Mr. Ellison for his gumption, I was trying to figure out why one would push their core product line aside in favor of applications built on top of them. Then again, Mr. Ellison has done pretty well for himself – a hell of a lot better than I have. But, I have also warned that open source competitors are closing in fast. And this time, it is fast in more than just market share gains.
Maybe the folks at Oracle knew this was going to happen. I can’t imagine anyone thinking the market for relational databases is dead, but those applications aren’t going to be worth near as much if someone else is providing the foundation on which they run.
I can sit around crying the glories of open source. I can post repeatedly about its benefits, and its momentum. You don’t have to listen.
And it may not matter anymore, as open source now controls ALL the money – or something like that. The Swiss government is switching to Linux.
Open-source tech is on fire. It should be. It is licensed to build on, and works (damn well in many cases). Not surprisingly, “experts” are now recommending that enterprises take a taste, even if it means mixing it with commercial products.
Open source software is getting folks attention. The money is pouring in, and while some think it is another bubble waiting to burst, I just don’t think so. It is making waves in the enterprise – more than 80% of CIO-type respondents to a recent poll said they had either implemented some open source software in their organization, or planned on doing so. That’s big.
One need look no further than here to realize OSS is going mainstream right under people’s noses. And working nicely, if I may add.
I used to run Linux on my laptop as part of a dual-boot configuration (yes, I kept Windows on there too). Nonetheless, I always felt pretty safe with it, and tested development projects and used the Linux side for data backups, etc. as well. Recently, there has been a lot more talk about malware on the platform, and while I haven’t heard a lot of noise (meaning folks freaking out about it), Mark Rals of Reallylinux.com is coming to the rescue anyway.