BusinessWeek has a surprisingly non-hype-laden story about open source today. Very cool to see that more of the media is coming around to the points I’ve been making for a few years now. Specifically, while I’m a believer in open source driving customer value, I have never seen it as a panacea. I’ve always argued against oft-quoted myths about why the open source business model will crush the traditional software business model.
It’s refreshing to read quotes from open source leaders who “get it” because they’re living through the challenges of converting “Category B” users.
Marten Mickos is quoted in the BW story:
“Open source is not a get-rich-quick scheme. You have to have patience.”
While Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst is quoted:
“There’s a concern that our growth rate will slow. We’ve been in that funk the last couple of years.”
Frankly speaking, I’m quite excited about the following comments from Whitehurst re. Red Hat:
…is shifting engineers and marketers away from nice-to-have projects toward areas where Red Hat gets paid. He’s pulling resources out of consumer desktop Linux, and he shuttered an online store that sold other companies’ open-source programs. “I took a look at that and said, ‘We’re not eBay,'” he says. “Red Hat is open source, but that doesn’t mean we do everything in open source.”
Whitehurst is definitely making the tough decisions to help Red Hat’s business grow. It appears he’s leaving the philosophical discussion about the virtues of open source to someone else.
I’ll leave you with a final Whitehurst quote. I’m taking it to be completely supportive of my call to OSS vendors to sell products, not just support and services around a freely available OSS product:
“A pure service business is not particularly defensible. Some open-source companies have not truly figured that out.”
I may not have been invited to dinner with Whitehurst, but he seems to think very much along the lines that I do. Very cool. My mom will be quite proud. lol :-)