The real answer is more complex.
As our friend Big Money Matt notes today, open source vendors are not really selling software, just support, and they have an image problem.
The image of enterprise customers is their support isn't as good as that of Oracle or Microsoft. This could be because most such vendors, like Alfresco, are fairly small.
It could be that the market is diffuse, with many third-party support organizations competing with vendors. Would it be better if they could just get along?
Or it could be real. Because what is meant by the word support is often in the eye of the beholder.
To an open source vendor, it can mean the attention of the person who wrote the program. It can mean community contacts to get bugs fixed quickly. Your guy calls my guy and we work things out.
To a big enterprise, it may mean the ability to train, deliver, and physically support thousands of desktops, or hundreds of servers. It may mean the ability to handle a non-software problem, like security, in a scaled manner.
Big vendors have grown to handle these challenges. Small ones have not. Alfresco is not IBM.
To individuals, on the other hand, support is often unneeded, but when it is needed it is well worth paying for. I've faced that several times, most recently when a lightning strike knocked me offline for several days last week.
My support guy, Ralph Kirkland, had me back online days before Comcast, my ISP, could even get to my house. He lent me a cable modem, a router, and installed a new Ethernet card. (That's Ralph sitting at my desk above.)
He even helped me ask Comcast the right questions when they finally did come by -- turns out my 25 year old cable connection was never properly grounded.
So support, for me, is like the police. I don't need it unless I need it, and then I need it badly. I need it here and I need it now.
The point here is there are many types of support. There is ongoing support, there is on-call support, and there is personal support.
How do you like your open source support, and what should be done to make it better?[poll id=85]