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[OT - intelligent debate:)] Interesting thoughts on the effect of open source software and business.

 
 
Waylon Kenning
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      11-21-2004
I was searching on the net for Peoplesoft Training (it looks to be an
important thing to learn, people with Peoplesoft skills seem to be in
high demand and commanding a high salary) when I remembered the night
before that I downloaded SugarSalesCRM (Customer Relationship
Management).

SugarCRM (www.sugarcrm.com) specializes in supporting SugarCRM which
is an opensouce project freely downloadable from www.sourceforge.net.
Unlike other CRM making companies, CRM doesn't exactly make their
money selling their code, but more from selling support (either via
their Sugar Pro solution or Sugar Cube servers all set up and good to
go).

SugarCRM has a pretty powerful intelligent website. When I looked at
the bottom of the website, I saw that it was powered by Mambo Server
(http://www.mamboserver.com/) which also happens to be an open source
project. Now Mambo Server's software is incredibly powerful software,
and I believe they could easily sell it, yet they too give away their
code, which other people and companies base their companies and
projects around.

Even while downloading Mambo Server, I saw that their Mamboforge was
based on code from http://gforge.org/.

The point of this post is from where I'm sitting, open source software
encourages innovation because small companies can base their company
around existing open source software, without having the need for the
capital which would normally be needed to get such companies off the
ground. In these cases, small companies don't have a lot of capital to
spend, yet everyone has intelligence (I know some posts in here make
that sound debatable) so can utilize commercially unsupported open
source software.

And how do such companies make money? Support of course. While anyone
can download the software, for myself it's easier to learn how to use
the software than buy it, but for larger more established businesses,
it's easier to get such projects commercially supported than support
it themselves. But even if SugarCRM went bust tomorrow, because the
project is open source, a business does have all the code to manage
the application themselves.

I believe that open source software is changing the software industry
from more selling code to selling support. And when I have a business
of my own, you can better your money that I'll base it around open
source software so I can spend less money on software, and more money
on developing my business.

What's everyone else's thoughts on the effect of open source software
on businesses? Will we see a tidal wave of small businesses based on
open source software competing with the big boys, or will the big boys
always have their place, and these small companies will always come a
distant second?
--
Regards,
Waylon Kenning.

1st Year B.I.T. WelTec
 
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Peter
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      11-21-2004
Waylon Kenning wrote:
> What's everyone else's thoughts on the effect of open source software
> on businesses? Will we see a tidal wave of small businesses based on
> open source software competing with the big boys, or will the big boys
> always have their place, and these small companies will always come a
> distant second?


The really great new ideas usually come from small guys, not from the old
incumbents. We need to be sure new ideas and new players can flourish.
Of course, this is a threat to the big boys, so they are trying to shut out
newcomers through use of patents and licences and such.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.


Peter

 
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impossible
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      11-21-2004
"Waylon Kenning" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...

<snip>
>
> The point of this post is from where I'm sitting, open source software
> encourages innovation because small companies can base their company
> around existing open source software, without having the need for the
> capital which would normally be needed to get such companies off the
> ground. In these cases, small companies don't have a lot of capital to
> spend, yet everyone has intelligence (I know some posts in here make
> that sound debatable) so can utilize commercially unsupported open
> source software.


I think it's an open question whether or not the open-source path is
actually a better, more cost-effective option for a small business with
limited capital. That will depend a great deal on the nature of the business
and the resources it has at its disposal. I'm sure you can think of many
cases in which off-the-shelf products from Peachtree or Adobe or (dare I
say?) Microsoft will get the job done just fine, without the cost or bother
of hiring specialized support staff. In other cases, of course, the
customization and control that OS offers may well be worth an investment in
these resources. Either path can be said to encourage business innovation in
its own way, so I don't think that's the issue. As with decisions about a
lot of technology, it will probably come down to making (and hedging) bets
on what will turn out to be an intelligent choice 5 years down the road.

>
> And how do such companies make money? Support of course. While anyone
> can download the software, for myself it's easier to learn how to use
> the software than buy it, but for larger more established businesses,
> it's easier to get such projects commercially supported than support
> it themselves. But even if SugarCRM went bust tomorrow, because the
> project is open source, a business does have all the code to manage
> the application themselves.


A company that bets on any proprietary software product is clearly taking a
chance, which helps to explain why established software producers (what you
call "the big boys") often have an edge, even if their code might be
construed by some to be inferior in certain respects -- customers are
willing to trade off product short-comings for the perceived stabilty of
the outfit backing it. The risk in betting on OS products is different only
in the sense that it's the stability of the development and support you
invest in or outsource that will concern you. Fact is, if the OS support
company goes bust, you're just as royally screwed as if you'd purchased some
deadend propretary product. Sure, you can hire someone else to try to sort
the code out for you, but it's never as simple as many OS advocates would
have you believe. As you say, OS service outfits make their money doing this
stuff -- it's hardly in their interest to make the services they perform
redundant.

> I believe that open source software is changing the software industry
> from more selling code to selling support. And when I have a business
> of my own, you can better your money that I'll base it around open
> source software so I can spend less money on software, and more money
> on developing my business.


There's no question that OS is changing the software industry. But selling
code and selling code-support aren't really such different trades. I'm
betting you're smart enough not to bet the ranch on either.


 
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Waylon Kenning
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Posts: n/a
 
      11-21-2004
It seems like Sun, 21 Nov 2004 10:46:11 -0500 was when "impossible"
<(E-Mail Removed)> said Blah blah blah...

>I think it's an open question whether or not the open-source path is
>actually a better, more cost-effective option for a small business with
>limited capital. That will depend a great deal on the nature of the business
>and the resources it has at its disposal. I'm sure you can think of many
>cases in which off-the-shelf products from Peachtree or Adobe or (dare I
>say?) Microsoft will get the job done just fine, without the cost or bother
>of hiring specialized support staff. In other cases, of course, the
>customization and control that OS offers may well be worth an investment in
>these resources. Either path can be said to encourage business innovation in
>its own way, so I don't think that's the issue. As with decisions about a
>lot of technology, it will probably come down to making (and hedging) bets
>on what will turn out to be an intelligent choice 5 years down the road.

I understand what you mean about off the shelf software, I'm pretty
certain there are a lot more specialist Photoshop people in the world
out there than GIMP people, and I'm not too sure how well said
Photoshop people would go if you dumped them with GIMP without
training, which means productivity wise it probably was better off to
go with Photoshop. Still, I think effective professional development
can change that.

>A company that bets on any proprietary software product is clearly taking a
>chance, which helps to explain why established software producers (what you
>call "the big boys") often have an edge, even if their code might be
>construed by some to be inferior in certain respects -- customers are
>willing to trade off product short-comings for the perceived stabilty of
>the outfit backing it. The risk in betting on OS products is different only
>in the sense that it's the stability of the development and support you
>invest in or outsource that will concern you. Fact is, if the OS support
>company goes bust, you're just as royally screwed as if you'd purchased some
>deadend propretary product. Sure, you can hire someone else to try to sort
>the code out for you, but it's never as simple as many OS advocates would
>have you believe. As you say, OS service outfits make their money doing this
>stuff -- it's hardly in their interest to make the services they perform
>redundant.

I have seen in the past excellent software just stopped being
supported, leaving one with old buggy code and no chance at fixing
that. For example, CamStudio. Was open source software until bought by
Macromedia who turned it into RoboDemo or Create or Consume or
something that starts with C. However, because the software is open
source the code is still available on the internet, for modification,
and then for further release. What effect an open source fork of code
has on the commercial fork of code, I don't know.

I was just reading an interesting article at
http://www.linuxworld.com.au/index.p...22;fp;4;fpid;4 which
talks about five trends impacting business, Open Source Continues to
Grow Dramatically, Open Source Endorsed Further Up the Software Stack,
Open Source as the Foundation of a Business Model, Products
Revitalized with Open Source Strategy, and Open Source Models Are
Adapted by Project Avalanche.

>There's no question that OS is changing the software industry. But selling
>code and selling code-support aren't really such different trades. I'm
>betting you're smart enough not to bet the ranch on either.

I am willing to bet the ranch on eTraining and professional
development becoming *the* big thing over the next 5-10 years.
Education is linked to technology with a rubber band, and the further
technology moves ahead, the bigger education needs to catch up.
Especially with technology today that does make this "learn when you
want, where you want, how you want" style of training realistically
possible, expect PD to be the big silent wave.
--
Regards,
Waylon Kenning.

1st Year B.I.T. WelTec
 
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impossible
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Posts: n/a
 
      11-21-2004
"Waylon Kenning" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> It seems like Sun, 21 Nov 2004 10:46:11 -0500 was when "impossible"
> <(E-Mail Removed)> said Blah blah blah...
>
>>I think it's an open question whether or not the open-source path is
>>actually a better, more cost-effective option for a small business with
>>limited capital. That will depend a great deal on the nature of the
>>business
>>and the resources it has at its disposal. I'm sure you can think of many
>>cases in which off-the-shelf products from Peachtree or Adobe or (dare I
>>say?) Microsoft will get the job done just fine, without the cost or
>>bother
>>of hiring specialized support staff. In other cases, of course, the
>>customization and control that OS offers may well be worth an investment
>>in
>>these resources. Either path can be said to encourage business innovation
>>in
>>its own way, so I don't think that's the issue. As with decisions about a
>>lot of technology, it will probably come down to making (and hedging) bets
>>on what will turn out to be an intelligent choice 5 years down the road.


> I understand what you mean about off the shelf software, I'm pretty
> certain there are a lot more specialist Photoshop people in the world
> out there than GIMP people, and I'm not too sure how well said
> Photoshop people would go if you dumped them with GIMP without
> training, which means productivity wise it probably was better off to
> go with Photoshop. Still, I think effective professional development
> can change that.


No question about that. Comparable OS applications could certainly be
created. But then why haven't they? I suspect it's because of what you say,
that the money in all of this is in the service end -- custom-tailoring
generic business applications. There's not going to be a lot of value in a
first-class OS rendition of Photoshop, say, except maybe as a demonstration
of what's possible for someone to do.

>
>>A company that bets on any proprietary software product is clearly taking
>>a
>>chance, which helps to explain why established software producers (what
>>you
>>call "the big boys") often have an edge, even if their code might be
>>construed by some to be inferior in certain respects -- customers are
>>willing to trade off product short-comings for the perceived stabilty of
>>the outfit backing it. The risk in betting on OS products is different
>>only
>>in the sense that it's the stability of the development and support you
>>invest in or outsource that will concern you. Fact is, if the OS support
>>company goes bust, you're just as royally screwed as if you'd purchased
>>some
>>deadend propretary product. Sure, you can hire someone else to try to sort
>>the code out for you, but it's never as simple as many OS advocates would
>>have you believe. As you say, OS service outfits make their money doing
>>this
>>stuff -- it's hardly in their interest to make the services they perform
>>redundant.


> I have seen in the past excellent software just stopped being
> supported, leaving one with old buggy code and no chance at fixing
> that. For example, CamStudio. Was open source software until bought by
> Macromedia who turned it into RoboDemo or Create or Consume or
> something that starts with C. However, because the software is open
> source the code is still available on the internet, for modification,
> and then for further release. What effect an open source fork of code
> has on the commercial fork of code, I don't know.


I don't know either. Interesting question. Can OS code be cobbled together
with proprietary code under a proprietary license? I'm not a developer
myself. How does that work exactly? Is it simply a matter of acknowledging
the OS source of certain bits and pieces? From a legal standpoint, is OS
code the equivalent of code what's in the public domain? Hopefully someone
can clarify this.

>
> I was just reading an interesting article at
> http://www.linuxworld.com.au/index.p...22;fp;4;fpid;4 which
> talks about five trends impacting business, Open Source Continues to
> Grow Dramatically, Open Source Endorsed Further Up the Software Stack,
> Open Source as the Foundation of a Business Model, Products
> Revitalized with Open Source Strategy, and Open Source Models Are
> Adapted by Project Avalanche.


I'm sure that's all true. I just don't know what you can predict about the
future from any of that. One scenario is that Microsoft and the other big
boys will continue to steadily lose market share to the OS movement.
Another, no less likely in my view, is that sooner rather than later we'll
see the whole software industry morph into something like the old textile
industry -- a less than cutting-edge preoccupation of developing countries
who lack the wherewithal to invest in the really modern technology of the
day (whatever that turns out to be).

>
>>There's no question that OS is changing the software industry. But selling
>>code and selling code-support aren't really such different trades. I'm
>>betting you're smart enough not to bet the ranch on either.


> I am willing to bet the ranch on eTraining and professional
> development becoming *the* big thing over the next 5-10 years.
> Education is linked to technology with a rubber band, and the further
> technology moves ahead, the bigger education needs to catch up.
> Especially with technology today that does make this "learn when you
> want, where you want, how you want" style of training realistically
> possible, expect PD to be the big silent wave.


Good for you! I think that's the best possible approach anyone could take
nowadays.


 
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Waylon Kenning
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Posts: n/a
 
      11-21-2004
It seems like Sun, 21 Nov 2004 17:25:54 -0500 was when "impossible"
<(E-Mail Removed)> said Blah blah blah...

>No question about that. Comparable OS applications could certainly be
>created. But then why haven't they? I suspect it's because of what you say,
>that the money in all of this is in the service end -- custom-tailoring
>generic business applications. There's not going to be a lot of value in a
>first-class OS rendition of Photoshop, say, except maybe as a demonstration
>of what's possible for someone to do.

As I see GIMP, GIMP is a super powerful photo-manipulation program,
without a doubt. What it lacks is ease of use. And I don't see that
getting better because the people who use GIMP and want features code
them themselves, but no one wants to be stuck doing boring GUI design
(or documentation for that matter, not specifically speaking about
GIMP, but other OS applications). Perhaps a thought for university and
polytechnic projects would be to do stuff like creating better GUIs
and documentation for some OS applications, where at least that's
possible with OS.

>I don't know either. Interesting question. Can OS code be cobbled together
>with proprietary code under a proprietary license? I'm not a developer
>myself. How does that work exactly? Is it simply a matter of acknowledging
>the OS source of certain bits and pieces? From a legal standpoint, is OS
>code the equivalent of code what's in the public domain? Hopefully someone
>can clarify this.

In CamStudio's case, Macromedia bought all the code from the original
developers (which they're entitled to do). I believe once code has
been OS'd, it's OS'd for life pretty much, but the original owners
have the right to sell the code to other developers who can make the
code from the next revision proprietary. But since previous editions
of the code were OS'd, then the OS community can continue developing
the code from there. I remember reading a while back about SCO
claiming certain parts of Linux code are their stolen IP, yet people
were saying since SCO released Linux under an OS license themselves
(Caldera anyone?), their claims were null and void. Sorry I couldn't
answer your question though.

>I'm sure that's all true. I just don't know what you can predict about the
>future from any of that. One scenario is that Microsoft and the other big
>boys will continue to steadily lose market share to the OS movement.
>Another, no less likely in my view, is that sooner rather than later we'll
>see the whole software industry morph into something like the old textile
>industry -- a less than cutting-edge preoccupation of developing countries
>who lack the wherewithal to invest in the really modern technology of the
>day (whatever that turns out to be).

In the article I quoted above, it notes that CA have given it's
database Ingres to the OS community
(http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-5219373.html). A worry was that
'big boy' companies will just dump their old tired code into OS
projects and try and reap the benefits (Solaris anyone?). I don't
know what effect big companies jumping on the OS bandwagon will have
on them, however, it'll continue to give the OS movement credibility I
think.

>> I am willing to bet the ranch on eTraining and professional
>> development becoming *the* big thing over the next 5-10 years.
>> Education is linked to technology with a rubber band, and the further
>> technology moves ahead, the bigger education needs to catch up.
>> Especially with technology today that does make this "learn when you
>> want, where you want, how you want" style of training realistically
>> possible, expect PD to be the big silent wave.

>
>Good for you! I think that's the best possible approach anyone could take
>nowadays.


Yeah, getting into PD is a lot easier than getting into the other big
wave, bioscience, and there's not so many ethical concerns. What I'd
like to see is the best practice development models for pedagogy in
schools compared to what's happening in the Enterprise, and this
knowledge combined and made open to anyone. I honestly believe that
education is a solution to many of problems in life that people and
the world has. Now we just need more effective ways to enhance that
process.
--
Regards,
Waylon Kenning.

1st Year B.I.T. WelTec
 
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Lawrence D'Oliveiro
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Posts: n/a
 
      11-22-2004
In article <(E-Mail Removed)>,
Waylon Kenning <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>A worry was that
>'big boy' companies will just dump their old tired code into OS
>projects and try and reap the benefits (Solaris anyone?).


So how could this hurt anything? They're not selling the software, so
there's no way they can drive some other open-source software product
out of business. They couldn't fund an advertising/PR campaign to, say,
persuade people to switch to Solaris instead of Linux or *BSD.

So tired old code is going to remain tired old code, and quietly
disappear into obscurity. Unless some clever developers find something
genuinely interesting to do with it...
 
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Dave - Dave.net.nz
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      11-22-2004
Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:
> So tired old code is going to remain tired old code, and quietly
> disappear into obscurity. Unless some clever developers find something
> genuinely interesting to do with it...


infact they could actually help the tired old company by adding to and
making the code better.
 
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Chris Wilkinson
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Posts: n/a
 
      11-24-2004
Hi there,

Waylon Kenning wrote:
> It seems like Sun, 21 Nov 2004 17:25:54 -0500 was when "impossible"
> <(E-Mail Removed)> said Blah blah blah...
>
>
>>No question about that. Comparable OS applications could certainly be
>>created. But then why haven't they? I suspect it's because of what you say,
>>that the money in all of this is in the service end -- custom-tailoring
>>generic business applications. There's not going to be a lot of value in a
>>first-class OS rendition of Photoshop, say, except maybe as a demonstration
>>of what's possible for someone to do.

>
> As I see GIMP, GIMP is a super powerful photo-manipulation program,
> without a doubt. What it lacks is ease of use. And I don't see that
> getting better because the people who use GIMP and want features code
> them themselves, but no one wants to be stuck doing boring GUI design
> (or documentation for that matter, not specifically speaking about
> GIMP, but other OS applications). Perhaps a thought for university and
> polytechnic projects would be to do stuff like creating better GUIs
> and documentation for some OS applications, where at least that's
> possible with OS.


Gimp lacks a few things that Photoshop has (CMYK is biggest one I can
think of), but the reverse is also true. I think people just need to
accept that Gimp isn't really trying to be a complete Photoshop clone,
and get over it and on with it. If any similarities exist between the
the two its because certain concepts of graphics editing/design cannot
be done in radically differing ways with ease. IT publications tend to
rubbish Gimp because 'photoshop can do this'...thats crap, and if you
look at it as a different software to learn from scratch, and stop
comparing it to Photoshop you'll see it is every bit as potentially
creative and rewarding to learn as any other software...

Gimp is perfect for the home user anyway, since its free. Photoshop
is not commonly found in the home due to its prohibitive price...

--
Kind regards,

Chris Wilkinson, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Remove spamblocker to send replies direct to my email...
 
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Chris Hope
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Posts: n/a
 
      11-24-2004
Chris Wilkinson wrote:

> Hi there,
>
> Waylon Kenning wrote:
>> It seems like Sun, 21 Nov 2004 17:25:54 -0500 was when "impossible"
>> <(E-Mail Removed)> said Blah blah blah...
>>
>>
>>>No question about that. Comparable OS applications could certainly be
>>>created. But then why haven't they? I suspect it's because of what you
>>>say, that the money in all of this is in the service end --
>>>custom-tailoring generic business applications. There's not going to be a
>>>lot of value in a first-class OS rendition of Photoshop, say, except
>>>maybe as a demonstration of what's possible for someone to do.

>>
>> As I see GIMP, GIMP is a super powerful photo-manipulation program,
>> without a doubt. What it lacks is ease of use. And I don't see that
>> getting better because the people who use GIMP and want features code
>> them themselves, but no one wants to be stuck doing boring GUI design
>> (or documentation for that matter, not specifically speaking about
>> GIMP, but other OS applications). Perhaps a thought for university and
>> polytechnic projects would be to do stuff like creating better GUIs
>> and documentation for some OS applications, where at least that's
>> possible with OS.

>
> Gimp lacks a few things that Photoshop has (CMYK is biggest one I can
> think of), but the reverse is also true. I think people just need to
> accept that Gimp isn't really trying to be a complete Photoshop clone,
> and get over it and on with it. If any similarities exist between the
> the two its because certain concepts of graphics editing/design cannot
> be done in radically differing ways with ease. IT publications tend to
> rubbish Gimp because 'photoshop can do this'...thats crap, and if you
> look at it as a different software to learn from scratch, and stop
> comparing it to Photoshop you'll see it is every bit as potentially
> creative and rewarding to learn as any other software...
>
> Gimp is perfect for the home user anyway, since its free. Photoshop
> is not commonly found in the home due to its prohibitive price...


However there is Photoshop Elements which is very cheap (~120?) and contains
a lot of the functionality of full PS. I was surprised the first time I
used it to see how capable it is.

I like the idea of the Gimp (esp that it runs on my platform of choice
whereas PS doesn't) but I find PS so much easier to use. Also all the
designs for the websites I work on come in PS format and the Gimp sometimes
has problems with the files and its faster to just deal with them in PS.

--
Chris Hope - The Electric Toolbox - http://www.electrictoolbox.com/
 
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