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perspectives on open-source and web services

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

great OS read

I've only been able to find it in hard-copy from Infoworld, but if someone can find it on the web somewhere, the article is called "Opening up the Code," and it's in the 12.04.2004 issue. Good quotes there from Bruce Perens :

"It [Open Source] is only good for nondifferentiating software, just as buying from Microsoft is only good for nondifferentiating software, because everybody can get either one of those things. Your competitor can have the same stuff as you."

This one hit like a revelation. I've been focused on an open-source project that will primarly be used by developers, and so I've found it hard to see benefits in opening up/giving away the labor (or lack thereof) I put into making development tools so that other developers can make money. But when looking at it from the proper perspective - the customer's, Perens has hit on what I now see has been the biggest power behind the open-source movement. He sums it up nicely with:

"...they [companies] can spend less in a cost center for nondifferentiating software than they otherwise would, and then they can take some of their software budget and move it over to the differentiators..."

I've also heard the phrase, "commoditization of the software stack." and that struck with me while reading this article. it really does make all the sense in the world for customers to use open-source software where they can. and the most valuable services will be those of analyzing a companies systems and advising when to apply OS, when to do in-house, and when to buy proprietary.

in developing for developers, as I'd like to do, it's hard to be compensated for your work by developers who are used to getting their tools for free. from what I can tell, the common approaches to this are either dual-licensing strategies (MySQL), where you make the development tool, offer it under GPL, and under a more commercial-friendly paid license that will be paid by commercial production-level developers, or keeping it completely GPL and getting the OS community to support the development of the tool, making it much less expensive to develop.

I'd prefer the latter approach, but no-one else seems all that interested in php web services. if you or someone you love is suffering from lack of things to do, contact me immediately.


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