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perspectives on open-source and web services

Friday, November 19, 2004


Probably a few disjointed rants here, not sure how this post will end up...

while we've been in comm with a couple big software vendors (Sterling Commerce and webMethods), I thought it was pretty funny that both of them seemed to scoff at the notion of us exploring open source alternative s to their software. guess what guys....the granted value of an open source solution doesn't have to be as high as yours because the cost is minimal. since we've been able to put one of them into near panic-attacks over losing our business, and gotten the other to chop more than 50% off of their price, I feel like I've injured their normal proprietary model enough that it's okay to now go ahead and buy their software, and then make the open-source version of it on my own in a couple years.

somewhat related to that last comment...I think I have a better understanding, angle, and appreciation for the 'sugar-daddy' open-source approach, and perhaps a specific option of positioning lamp5 that way. I'm considering a company like EDS or CA...a software consulting services firm. I initially thought that Lumata or lamp5 would become one, but there would be no harm in having lamp5 join with one, as long as it could be convinced and accept the open source model, as follows:

let's suppose that lamp5 goes thru the normal open-source startup process (which I'm hoping is underway) in which a few dedicated developers get interested in scratching a common itch and leaving the solution out in the public eye. so work progresses, but pretty slowly...hopefully the pace will increase as more developers come on.

eventually there's a structuring time where official project leads are established, a company charter could be drawn, developers are recruited and organized, some contracts and revenue crops up. after some pioneering businesses implement, the solutions gets a bit of professionalism to it, and can attract the interest of a sugar-daddy.

enter EDS.

EDS sells consulting services, so they're not in the software-selling business, or if they are, it's minimal in comparison. but, EDS doesn't need to get themselves far into the software-selling business to capture benefit from an open-source platform like lamp5. while EDS indirectly contributes to MySQL by consulting with Sabre for their large MySQL system, which involves many commercial license purchases, EDS could more direclty support an open-source project and still remain a consulting firm.

if EDS sees that lamp5 has a small, but successful track record, it might be interested in doing a test case with it. if they find benefits of implementing solutions using lamp5, they could be interested in helping lamp5 progress, to enhance the solutions they're able to offer using it. at this point, open-source both shines, and creates havoc, for the creators.

if the creators are still on top of the game, and are committed to enhancing lamp5 on their own, EDS will likely hire on the lamp5 creators/developers/company to build lamp5 in the direction EDS dictates. if the original lamp5 creators are slacking off, EDS may have their own people usurp the leadership of lamp5, or could turn lamp5 into a different product that they choose. such is the nature of open-source.

lamp5 itself is just the tool EDS uses to get their business done. if they are the sole funders of the tool's development, they can control how the development of the tool progresses. even though other entities will have full access to the tool, their control over it helps them to establish both their methodology and leadership in the market.

it takes a gutsy move by a large firm to play sugar-daddy to open-source software, but it's being done fairly successfully, and lamp5 need be no different. now, if anyone has an idea of a good candidate for lamp5's sugar-daddy...please let me know.


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