Control is the real open source advantage

When you are running open source you control your own code. You also control the code budget. When you are using a proprietary solution -- no matter how good the solution -- the vendor controls your code. They decide what you will pay, and when.

In all the blah-de-blah over the moves by Oracle and Microsoft into open source a very important point is missing, namely the motivation of enterprises in moving toward open source.

It's not the cost savings. It's not the community. It's not the name of the vendor.

It's control.

When you are running open source you control your own code. You also control the code budget. When you are using a proprietary solution -- no matter how good the solution -- the vendor controls your code. They decide what you will pay, and when.

It's a pretty obvious point, but it's a vital one.

Most of the boardroom arguments over open source licensing eventually move toward this issue of control.

Those which seek a BSD or commercial license want to keep their own development efforts proprietary. They want to control the code which results, and use it as a competitive advantage.

Those who opt for GPL code for their operating system and database simply don't see a competitive advantage in their own coding. But they still want to control their own code.

When you control your own code, you control the upgrade process. You decide which bugs to fix when. You decide how big your software budget will be. This is a really big deal.

If you're old enough to remember when the Microsoft and Oracle update cycles took over businesses, even large businesses, putting enterprise priorities at the mercy of vendor priorities, you understand this. And that's just about every CTO now living.

For big vendors, then, the genie is out of the bottle. Control of software has shifted to the customer. They can either adapt to this reality, move down-market to enterprises that would rather not control their software, or they can die like newspapers are dieing.

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