Once every three months, Alan Nugent, chief technology officer of billion-dollar software company Novell, sits down with a small group of colleagues to decide what software the company will give away for free.
Companies are Facing a Cannibalizing Dilemma
2004-02-12 Open Source 17 Comments
A lot of Novels software is not much interest to the open source community. If Novel delivers services to the enterprise than most of the software is going to be specialized. I don’t think that the GPL constrains that type of software. The systems software that is part of the platform on the other hand is a different story.
Maybe these Linux companies should use more open source solutions in their product lines. It’s the service that carries the product line. Until we have artificial agents that the open source community can deploy as service and support, there is no challenge to vendors providing services.
There are two types of companies.
Company A wants to make a profit. They will hire people to build their products and services, then lay them off so they can make more profits.
Company B wants to make a product. They will hire people to build their products and services, then keep them so they can continue to build new products and improve their opperations.
Company B cares about the people working for their company as well as their internal operations and their customers. Company B will make more money in the long term.
Company A only cares about the money, everyone and everything is expendable. Company A will make more money in the short term.
I won’t ever work for Company A again. I don’t have enough time in this life to do these things over and over and over again. I need progress.
This is why SuSE was a match for Novell. RedHat is too committed to OSS to be compatible with Novell.
Personally, I like OSS because it doesn’t have all the crap that regular software has. Gaim doesn’t install icons everywhere, put ads in the program and have a convoluted interface. Why? Because the people that write and use the program have the say over how it works and not some corporate agneda. OSS doens’t try to take over my computer like other software seems to like to. I’m also a cumpulsive upgrader so that’s a big plus to me as well and I like transparency and OSS definitely has that.
The .Net strategy is to create a constantly changing environment (a void) rather than a stable and evolving environment.
Why don’t open source distributors use more open source technologies and offer more choices and variety to the customer. Instead of trying to manage all of the compexity of software with one forceful technology, it would be better to let the software stabalize and evolve in the trusted community environment. When the vendor does not control the platform, it can not force a technology to succeed. A vendor can support it’s future growth by nurturing the development of quality software from within the community. The natural evolution of software, opening connections between independant projects and allowing people to work together in large teams(building bridges), to simplify the methods used to discover complex solutions, and to record the knowledge in a purified form so that it can be objectively observed, applied, and made more reliable.
Don’t lead. Just nurture an environment that is efficient and effective.
It is fine to let applications evolve over time, but much of what a company like Novell is trying to do is based on a vision that someone has or has had. It is good to try and lead and move to a goal. Novell’s goal to be completely cross platform is a great goal.
Unfortunatly if you read enough of these posts you will find that most people have no interest in this kind of goal and would seek only to destroy those they don’t like instead of evolving their software. Software should evovle but in the pursuit of a larger goal, like platform independence.
Platform independence has to involve platforms. Solaris, Windows, Mac, etc, these are products, not platforms. They are controlled by vendors.
A platform is open and accessible and it is decentralized as far as any controlling interest in it’s progress and direction are decided.
Vendors want to make all of the choices and constrain the users of that product to one solution.
If there were only more platforms out there, than platform independant software would happen with little resistance.
company a seems familiar enough
Evolution of the techniques of solving complex problems means that we have to rely on objectivity and quality. More people able to be involved in solving software problems means that our current systems will become exposed and eventually purified, because people will have to depend upon each other in order to find out how things work. That process leads to digging up reasearch, finding what has been lost because we have accepted or have been forced to accept some implementation that became the standard. A vendor might want to bury that knowledge and have us focus on specialization in a prefabricated context.
You are never going to get everyone to agree on one way of doing things. People will dig into things and see how they work. Then they will say I have a better way and go off and start there own project. The open source community is full of similar projects just as the commercial side is.
You will always have fragmentation in development no matter if a company is controlling it or not.
I like the guy’s point “the market always wins” The consumers are the important half of the market. Right now in the huge mess that is IT, there are a lot of companies that are simply feeding on inefficiencies of this flegling and standardless industry. They are the companies that pay people lots of money to stick their thumbs in the holes in the dam. OSS is the shiny new carbon-fibre dam with teflon coating that has the dam pluggers sucking on thier other thumb in horror at the inevitable future.
If you’re right about company A they will go out of business eventually anyway so take heart.
If people do not agree than that is great because ideas can compete. If people dig into things and find out how they work, that is fantastic because it makes the technology more accessible and open for others to use. I fail to see the problem here. This is much better than a narrow focus which forces one solution on the developers.
Open source will evolve to the stage where it becomes more efficent and effective in it’s technique.
You are making my point for me only trying to spin it.
You are saying that if people do not agree that is great because then ideas can compete. But you contention is that only the open-source community can have competeing ideas. Why can’t commercial vendors have competing ideas as well? If there idea is better, people will pay for it and if it is not, they will go out of business.
If the open-source way of thinking truly leads to superior products and innovation then commercial ventures will have to switch to a services model to get paid. Until that day there is no use complaining about it.
The commercial vendor that owns the platform is the monopoly. If you were to put Solaris in Windows shoes, than Microsoft would not be the winner. The controlling vendor will absorb the competition, it controls the direction of the platform because it can create a changing environment so that it can place it’s product line at a competitive advantage. The methods that the monopoly adopts are the standard, it selects which protocols and libraries that everyone has to accept.
An open source platform is a stable and evolving environment. If you work with an open platform you can compete at an equal advantage with your competitors and not be directed by a controlling interest. An open and accessible platform gives a customer more choices and it allows smaller vendors to compete, and it rewards the innovators. It leads to quality software because it does not have a narrow focus and a tight schedule around one dominant product line.
They should have given free 3 user versions of Netware for Download. They would not be 3rd to MS right now in the NOS market.
The danger occurs when the monopoly locks people into certain protocols, libraries, and approaches to solving problems. What happens is that the whole world of other technologies gets buried underneath the ‘one way’ of doing things.
Also, if you are building software for a company, I don’t see why you can’t charge money for GPL code. You are providing a specialized service. If it is specialized, than it will not work for everybody, if they try to copy and distribute it, it has to be changed. Only the big software companies model will suffer because of open source, but the small guys will be better off.
There is no ‘one way’ to deal with complex problems. That is the greatest weakness of products like Windows/Solaris/Mac. The variety of approaches and evolution of ideas and techniques, the diferientiation of ideas and independance, makes open source software able to grow rapidly and to privately innovate. There is so much going on that does not make the front page news. One of the keys is the level and quality of communication between the community.