I’ve used the term “Right Sizing Your Infrastructure” to describe one reason that OSS penetration grew and continues to grow. Looking back 5 years at the enterprise middleware market, most vendors offered ~3 different editions of their product. The editions may have had various names, but think of ‘entry’, ‘advanced’ and ‘enterprise’ as the categories. The problem was that ‘entry’ and ‘advanced’ had capabilities befitting their names, but the skills, complexity and cost associated with these products were out of sync with the names. For the most part, an ‘entry’ edition product had significantly fewer features vs. an ‘enterprise’ edition of the product, but the associated complexity of two products was nearly similar.

Then came along truly ‘entry’ products that aligned the capabilities that they offered with the skills, complexity and cost required to implement. Products like Tomcat, PHP, and MySQL are but a few examples. These products have increased their capabilities as they attempt to grow into more complex enterprise projects (but so have truly ‘enterprise’ products, so a gap still very much exists). Clearly, the challenge will be to keep the ratio between capabilities to skills, complexity & cost in line with their history.

Closed-source vendor have recognized the importance of ‘right-sizing’, and the importance of the capabilities to skills, complexity & cost ratio. Trying to fit a product designed for the ‘enterprise’ scenario into an ‘entry’ scenario hasn’t worked, and I suspect it will not work going forward. The best approach to do this is to build or acquire a product for the ‘entry’ scenario. Let the acquisitions of OSS vendors by closed-source vendors continue!