January 2008

InformationWeek is reporting a deal between French automaker Renault & Microsoft :

“Under the arrangement, Microsoft will provide Renault with 1,000 “certificates” for Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise server product. The deal also includes a controversial “IP assurance” provision under which Microsoft pledges not to sue customers who use Linux distributed by its partner Novell.”

I’ve asked this before, but why should a customer care about IP assurance? IP indemnification is a vendor issue, just like ensuring environmental rules or workplace safety regulations are being adhered to. It’s a disgrace that vendors have made indemnification a customer concern.

“Last year, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer implied that users of Linux distributions from vendors other than those with which it has patent deals — the list also includes Xandros and Linspire — could be hearing from the company. “We’ve spent a lot of money licensing patents,” Ballmer said.”

For all the positive moves that Microsoft has made towards OSS, silly statements like this must drive Sam Ramji & team to pull out their hair.

You know, I’d actually love to see Microsoft sue a customer because of IP issues. Exactly how much would they sue for to offset the millions of dollars worth of negative publicity and brand destruction?

Proprietary Open Source Proprietary Open Source Proprietary Open Source Proprietary Open Source…there, Marc said it, so I can also ;-)

Matt will say:

“OK. “Words, words, words,” as Hamlet might say. I’m not worried about the nomenclature here.”

Interesting, just nomenclature eh? Imagine this situation:

  1. I buy a license for RHEL
  2. I find a bug or want a new feature
  3. Lucky for me, I have the source code to RHEL
  4. I also have the technical skills to pay the billz
  5. I fix the bug and add that new feature to my copy of RHEL
  6. I no longer have RHEL, I have RHEL*

Can I get support for RHEL* from Red Hat? A candy bar to readers who answer, “nope, you’re out of luck, Red Hat won’t support you on anything other than RHEL (i.e. RHEL* != RHEL)”.

I don’t know about every commercial OSS product out there, but the above situation holds for more OSS products than you’d think. And you’d be surprised to find several leading OSS vendors whose Proprietary Open Source products are Proprietary and closed source (so you’d be stuck at #2 above). Don’t take my word for it. If you’re interested spend a few minutes checking out the product pages of the most popular commercial OSS vendors.

Look, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Proprietary Open Source model. I have stressed the value of products and tried to explain that support minimizes the value of the product itself.

If support is the item of value that OSS vendors deliver why gate access to OSS/OSS-based products? Why have higher-value features in the gated products? Why offer these higher-value products under a proprietary license? (Note, not all OSS vendors utilize all 3 of these tactics…some do, some use only 1 or 2 of these tactics to encourage customers to pay for value).

There is nothing wrong for OSS vendors to expect that customers receiving value pay for the value received. The best way to convince these customers to “pay for value” is through a Proprietary Open Source product.

Let me repeat, there is nothing wrong with Proprietary Open Source. I just wish more OSS vendors and OSS proponents were more transparent about the business model that works, and the resulting customer impact.

Just hours before my meeting with Rod to “get an update on what SpringSource has been up to”, they go and pull the trigger on this…the nerve of these OSS upstarts! ;-)

InfoWorld reports:

“Through the acquisition, SpringSource plans to offer a single source of products and services to develop and run enterprise applications using the Spring Portfolio and Apache projects. The Spring Portfolio of applications has been downloaded more than 4 million times, according to SpringSource.

Covalent, meanwhile, has staff members actively involved in Apache software projects and has a lead developer working on Apache Tomcat, said Mark Brewer, CEO of Covalent. He will become vice president and general manager of SpringSource’s Covalent business unit.
SpringSource said enterprises are increasingly opting for Spring, Tomcat, and open source over bloated, complex legacy Java platforms. These legacy platforms include Java servers from such companies as BEA Systems, Oracle, and even open source proponent JBoss, according to Brewer.”

And in keeping with Neelan’s vision of Interface21 (the name of SpringSource at the time) driving $1 billion in revenue, Rod states:

“We don’t need to look to a large incumbent as an exit strategy”

Good luck gents!

I couldn’t resist using the title from the press release.

Mathew Aslett has a nice summary of Nokia’s acquisition of Trolltech for about $153M USD. The deal appears to be for ~4x 2007 estimated revenues of ~$40M USD.

Trolltech offers Qt for high-performance, cross-platform application development and Qtopia for mobile Linux devices. Trolltech utilize a dual license model. According to the download page, you can download their products under the GPL if “I’m Developing Open Source Software” or a proprietary commercial version if “I’m Developing Commercial Software”. It appears that the commercial versions have more capabilities than the OSS versions. Interestingly enough Trolltech does not offer support around the OSS versions. They are running a true “product-based” business model.

Interesting to see Nokia go down this route vs. Android. I guess Google couldn’t really expect Nokia to run and hide at the sight of Android. The #2 & #3 handset providers behind Nokia, Samsung and Motorola, are members of the open handset alliance, which is behind Android.

Let’s see if Nokia open sources the ‘commercial’ versions of Qt and Qtopia in order to compete vs. Android. And if so, will ISVs jump for joy considering the risk of having to pick sides in the handset platform battle?

Many of you likely missed Microsoft’s earnings announcement. Considering all the news about LoopFuse, “a JBoss Alumni-led startup” today, who could blame you?

Since Roy Russo (whose life goal appears to be making fun of Canadians and my business school education) and Matt Asay are involved, I had to blog this news. Also, one of the co-founders of Eloqua, the Toronto-based company that LoopFuse appears to be going up against, dated a friend of mine, so this competition is of even more interest.

InfoWorld writes:

“The product, called LoopFuse OneView, includes tools for e-mail marketing, Web analytics, managing campaigns and scoring and prioritizing leads, among other things. The new release, version 3.0, will add lead management and lead nurturing tools, a spokesman said. The software is released under the GNU General Public License.”

My favorite quote:

“While our proprietary competitors tread water, and ask you to empty your wallets for 8+ year-old brittle-ware, we’re busy innovating, innovating, and innovating, by applying open source principles and methodologies to every facet of our products and business,” LoopFuse said in its blog last year.”

Best of luck gents.

In related news (since I’m sure LoopFuse wants to grow into a Microsoft Killer one day…which software firm doesn’t?)….Microsoft just topped their quarterly revenue record by $2B.

“”Revenue of over $16 billion this quarter exceeds our previous record by $2 billion,” said Chris Liddell, chief financial officer at Microsoft. “We are extremely pleased by the broad based strength of our business performance and field execution. Throughout the first half of our fiscal year, all of our businesses met or beat our expectations.””

Oracle, IBM and Microsoft all reported impressive software revenues lately. OSS vendor revenues have been going through the roof also. Strange eh? Well, not if you believe that OSS and Commercial software will (happily) co-exist and grow in conjunction, as I do.

A while ago Roy Russo had made a comment to the effect: “OSS needs to stop competing on price”. Regardless what you read about him on the Interweb, I say, he’s a smart guy! ;-)

I’ve never really looked at the price of Windows vs. RHEL or Ubuntu. The simple answer is that CentOS/Fedora (near RHEL replacements) and Ubuntu are free without commercial support, so end of discussion.

But, if you want commercial support and consider a typical Windows replacement cycle (~5 years), it seems that Windows is actually cheaper than purchasing RHEL+support or support for Ubuntu.

I’m quite happy to see this. Price isn’t a long term differentiator. Easier to use, faster, more secure, more reliable, etc. can be long term differentiators….price, not so much.

Take a look:

Here’s what I did:

The current Vista Ultimate price is $399, the upgrade price is $199. I used $399 in year 1 and $199 in year 6. This assumes you buy Vista today, run it for 5 years and then upgrade to the next version of Windows in year 6. You can pay $59/incident for commercial support from Microsoft. I assumed one would need no more than 2 support calls a year (I haven’t ever called MSFT in 20+ years for support). BTW, apparently you get 2 installation related support incidents for free with a Windows license. {Update} Mr. Russo pointed out that I missed the cost of an Advanced Support Incident. If you assume that a customer has 2 of these in a 6 year term, and when they do, the incremental cost is only $200, then Windows is still cheaper by ~$30 (ignoring discounts, hardware costs, other software costs, etc).

The current Ubuntu support price from Canonical for 9×5 phone support is $250. I could have used $900 for the 24×7 support, but that seemed excessive.

The current RHEL “Workstation with Standard Subscription” price for 12×5 phone support is $299.

Note that Canonical and Red Hat offer unlimited incidents, while I only assumed 2 incidents per year with Microsoft. This may be a bad assumption. But seriously, I can’t remember anyone I know actually calling Microsoft for OS support.

This ‘analysis’ is not a statement about total cost of ownership. It’s just simple math, and I thought you may find it interesting. OSS doesn’t have to compete on price…let’s move past that myth.

I stumbled across a “Save XP” petition that InfoWorld is hosting:

“Microsoft will end OEM and shrink-wrapped sales of Windows XP on June 30, 2008, forcing users to shift to Vista.


Millions of us have grown comfortable with XP and don’t see a need to change to Vista. It’s like having a comfortable apartment that you’ve enjoyed coming home to for years, only to get an eviction notice. The thought of moving to a new place — even with the stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and maple cabinets (or is cherry in this year?) — just doesn’t sit right. Maybe it’ll be more modern, but it will also cost more and likely not be as good a fit. And you don’t have any other reason to move.”

More than 57,000 have signed it. Will you??? ;-)

Maybe more folks would sign a petition titled: “Save XP, Kill Vista” ?

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