Discussions

News: Interview with Lars Trieloff: "Open Source does not need a guru"

  1. SourceKibitzer has posted next interview in the series of talks with Open Source developers. Though Open Source is not a religion for him, a creator of Mindquarry project Lars Trieloff really believes that all kind of organizations can learn from the collaborating in the OSS way and that in ten years OSS will be the predominant business model on the software market.
    Is it a correct understanding of Mindquarry: you turned your Open Source experience into a product for team-work in other fields? Lars: Yes. I had been working with Open Source for some years and got accustomed to using collaborative tools for software development such as the version control system Subversion, MediaWiki and JSPWiki for exchanging information, issue tracking systems for management of bugs and feature requests like Bugzilla, Trac or Scarab, and Mailing list software. Since then, my mission has been to bring similar tools - though with better integration and a graphical user interface - to people outside of the software engineering industry.
    Read the full interview: "Open Source does not need a guru, because it is not a religion".
  2. in ten years OSS will be the predominant business model on the software market.
    According to IDC [1] the estimated market of OSS products and subscriptions will be $5.8B in 2011. Thats under 2% of the projected total software market, and for example 10 X less than the projected market of mobile phone games in 2011 [2]. If the growth continues at the estimated rates (26%), the OSS market share will be around 4-5% in ten years. Thats hardly dominant. Enterprise Java software is just one small niche. In this niche open source is very popular model, but subjective eye-ball measurements from here cannot be generalized across the entire industry. [1] http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS20711507 [2] http://www.juniperresearch.com/index.php (pay for play report) /Henri Karapuu
  3. and for example 10 X less than the projected market of mobile phone games in 2011 [2].
    I f*cked up. The estimated revenue for mobile games was cumulative revenue, not yearly. All other figures are correct. /Henri Karapuu
  4. Enterprise Java software is just one small niche. In this niche open source is very popular model, but subjective eye-ball measurements from here cannot be generalized across the entire industry.
    I agree with you in a sense, from a numbers perspective I think any estimates are going to be way off. But this is such an understatement! We're talking about the OSS business model, and how it is developing within the niche of Enterprise Java. Enterprise Java is the niche I would put my money on, too, because it happens to be part of the software industry most strongly associated with the business community. It's been through this avenue that OSS has branched out from a vertical industry into nearly all other industries and markets that have IT departments. You aren't the least bit surprised that what started as a hobbyist, alternative movement has railroaded its way into that kind of "niche" (albeit its virile growth in all industry directions)? And all this irregardless of revenues? I don't think the word zealotry is really right here, either. People that have been deeply passionate and committed to working on OSS in their own spare time are just happy to see things moving in this direction. It is becoming viable for them to make a living off of what they are passionate about, that's all. If anyone is a zealot, it's those that remain adamantly opposed to OSS. OK, I've had enough OSS Kool-aid for one day. :)
  5. It's been through this avenue that OSS has branched out from a vertical industry into nearly all other industries and markets that have IT departments.
    In enterprise computer and segments 'that have IT departments' the availability of source code is important factor, and lack of guaranteed support may be acceptable because of the in-house knowledge. So yes, i agree here, but these segments are still far from "all of the industry", which was what the original article was talking about. My point is that other segments are very different. My grandmother would not be exactly interested in the Windows Vista source code, yet she'd appreciate a number where to call. So buy support services for the OS products, you say? The problem with this is that as only fraction of customers buy support, the ones that buy have to in effect pay the development and free community support for all of the product. This results in small minority paying inflated prices for support, and large majority left without anything guaranteed.
    I don't think the word zealotry is really right here, either.
    I was replying directly to the tone of the article. It's okey to say that "i love open source" or "believing in God made me feel slim again". But making statements such as "the second coming of Jeesus Christ is going to happen ten past five this evening" or "open source is going to be dominant business model in 10 years" without any kind of arguments is rather naive, in my opinion. /Henri Karapuu
  6. the very statement without any basis in fact that "Open source will be the dominant business model" pretty much shows the religious zeal of the believers in the open source religion. How anyone can look at the religious fervour of the slashdot community and their offshoots (and the GPL crowd as a whole) and claim seriously that open source is not a religion (at least to part of its core adherents) is beyond me.
  7. I think the revenue picture is a bit misleading (although the numbers are good to ponder, thanks!). In so many industries though the trend seems to be, a cheap newcomer comes in at the low end and is derided, but eventually takes over, since the newcomer's capabilities and acceptance grow faster than their prices. "Eventually" can take a long time, look at the Japanese car industry. 15 years ago, one could point to Microsoft as the cheap newcomer. In some ways (databases) they still are playing that role. But the big circle of life keeps turning, and now OSS is the ultimate cheap newcomer. About the only way to stop OSS is to make it illegal, which is logically enough a preferred tactic! Another thing I think we'll see an awful lot of is hosted apps, like Salesforce.com. Eventually we won't see businesses installing Peachtree accounting software on Windows servers, they'll login at https://peachtree/smallcompanyname instead. Big losers from all this are heavyweight software providers of course. Big winners will be very talented consultants, so actually most Serverside readers will end up happy, I think. Interestingly I think another losing category may be the big outsourcing shops that seem so ascendant today. The idea that a company needs hundreds of low cost, average skilled developers overseas , churning out artifacts and other pieces of a very formalized dev cycle, just won't be appealing. Rather than commission projects with lots of developers, companies will rent apps as needed from Salesforce.com clones, or engage brilliant but local consultants to whip up solutions using OSS software.
  8. Chris Says: People that have been deeply passionate and committed to working on OSS in their own spare time are just happy to see things moving in this direction. It is becoming viable for them to make a living off of what they are passionate about, that's all. ... Cole Says: In so many industries though the trend seems to be, a cheap newcomer comes in at the low end and is derided, but eventually takes over, since the newcomer's capabilities and acceptance grow faster than their prices
    It's wonderful if developers can quit their jobs, change to be independed OSS developers and do what they really want to do in life. This great humane victory is often possible because the OS product is free in a segment dominated by commercial offerings and as such it is able to gain initial customer base where to sell services to. Then Jimmy sees the success of Jones, and enters the same segment with another OS product. Gaining the initial customer base is more difficult for Jimmy because there is already a free alternative in the market, but he manages to do it with some unique features. At this point the service revenue of Jones is halved by the market entrance of Jimmy, and the product revenues of the commercial vendors in the segment have been severely reduced by both of the OS offerings. Doesn't this mean that the OSS caused just a shift from product based revenue to service based, the only loser is the big old farts in the segment, and everything is good? I don't think so. Statistically only few percent of OSS customers (3% according to Red Hat) are _paying_ customers. It would seem that the effect of OSS entering a segment is that it reduces the total revenues - products and services combined - from the segment. In some cases OSS attracts new customers to the segments, and can have other posetive effects, but in terms of raw revenue i doubt that the change from "100% pays" -> "3% pays" is going to be offset by this. IF the above holds true: 1. Open source adaptation would seem to reduce the number of developers a given segment can support. All developers cannot quit their day jobs, become OS developers/service providers/consultants and still expect to get paid. 2. When open source spreads to other segments it seems that the industry as a whole might have less cake to share? I don't know what is going to happen, and i don't oppose open source, but the issue is bit more complex than many open source advocates seem to think. /Henri Karapuu
  9. Statistically only few percent of OSS customers (3% according to Red Hat) are _paying_ customers. It would seem that the effect of OSS entering a segment is that it reduces the total revenues - products and services combined - from the segment. In some cases OSS attracts new customers to the segments, and can have other posetive effects, but in terms of raw revenue i doubt that the change from "100% pays" -> "3% pays" is going to be offset by this. IF the above holds true:

    1. Open source adaptation would seem to reduce the number of developers a given segment can support. All developers cannot quit their day jobs, become OS developers/service providers/consultants and still expect to get paid.

    2. When open source spreads to other segments it seems that the industry as a whole might have less cake to share?

    I don't know what is going to happen, and i don't oppose open source, but the issue is bit more complex than many open source advocates seem to think.
    Open source software obviously reduces the total revenue in the segment that it is in. Is it good? Yes, if you are the consumer. Is it bad? Yes, if you are trying to make money by selling competing software. On the other hand, open source software _may_ be able to increase the total revenue in the market. For example, it may allow a company to offer a derivative product that would not have been cost effective without the open source software being available. (If you need to bundle an application server with your application and sell the result for $500, you're going to have a hard time making money if the application server license costs you $490.) At the same time, it is obvious that the "open source business model" supports many less software developers in a direct fashion (i.e. paid to write the open source software), because the gross revenue and the margins are much poorer than the traditional license-based software business model. That means that while BEA had hundreds of engineers working on Weblogic and pulling in half a billion dollars in revenue a year (licenses + services), the self-proclaimed leading open source equivalent has a tiny fraction of that revenue (despite a claimed much larger market share) and only a small number of paid software developers. So one could reasonably posit that the number of software developers paid to build infrastructure software will diminish significantly as a result of open source software, and the number of software developers working as consultants installing and customizing applications will increase. I doubt that it's even that cut and dry, though, because we seem to have quite a capacity to dream up new and more complicated infrastructure to build, and thus I don't personally believe that traditional software license models are on their way to extinction. There is no doubt though that the availability of open source software has reduced the attractiveness (e.g. to investors and would be entrepreneurs) of building new businesses using the traditional software license model. And lastly, which job would you rather have? Writing the software, or traveling around servicing it? Personally, I'd rather make the griddle than flip the burgers. If other industries offer any clues though, the move toward relatively low-skilled and low-paying service jobs is almost certain. That's why we have to keep pushing the frontier (what software can do), so that regardless of the business model, we'll have something fun to do, and hopefully we'll be able to keep attracting bright people to do it. Peace, Cameron Purdy Oracle Coherence: The Java Data Grid
  10. I've been looking quite a bit on OSS model and not surprisingly came across different opinions and views on how much OSS is Going to revolutionize the software industry market. I particularly liked the following description by Tim O’Reilly : "Both open source AND proprietary software work at a given moment in time. What I've observed (and wrote about in The Open Source Paradigm Shift) is that openness begets innovation, which leads to commercialization, which leads to companies seeking a proprietary edge, until they go too far, close down innovation, and the cycle restarts. It seems to me that openness is characteristic of the early pre-commercial stages of a new industry when many of the participants are in it just for fun; that proprietary advantage is characteristic of the middle phase; and that openness returns in senescent commoditization; which throws open the doors to innovation, and the whole cycle repeats. Here's a crude drawing of the last few cycles in the computer industry: I think that it puts the OSS trend in its right proportion and give the entire discussion a more reasonable context. It is interesting to see that in many of the cases people refer to RedHat, JBoss, MySQL as the main commercial success stories to prove that OSS model is indeed a viable business model. If you will examine more closely those cases you'll find common things that made this particular examples more successful then others. For example they all had well defined market, red-hat->Microsoft, JBoss->WebLogic, and MySql->Oracle. They also had common strategy: go after the commercial vendors market (which is very well defined) and take a bite of their market. Starting by the very low-end and grow in the food-chain from that point. Very often the pricing model is based on low-price high volume. In this specific markets that model could work since the market is big enough which makes the risk relatively low - even so, there is a limit on how much you can grow in that market with pure OSS model. It is therefore not surprising that OSS vendors are offering dual license model (some view as a new form of monopoly as described here). Recently I heard that Red-Hat will not provide support for its *free* version but only to its *commercial* version. I also heard other OSS project is moving in that same direction. To me this is a clear indication that the business model around OSS is still in transit and is not as simple as one might think. Now I'm not saying that OSS is not a viable business option. It's probably the best option to gain large market share in a short time-frame. What I'm saying is that OSS doesn't necessarily fit to all industries and therefore couldn't be treated as a "magic spell" that will immediately turn your business to success over night. Unfortunately if you want to succeed commercially you will still need to apply the same old technique and OSS may or may not be one of the options you should consider in your strategy. In any event what bothers me most is the fact that the discussion about OSS is too often limited to viewing it an alternative approach to commercial model. I personally believe that there is a third option in which both commercial companies and OSS companies can complement each other and create a more healthier win/win business model but that's a topic for another discussion. I'm working these days on writing my thoughts on this matter. I'm hoping to get something on my blog sometime next week. Nati S Personal Blog GigaSpaces Write Once Scale Anywhere
  11. Cameron, Nati, Mark -- thanks for your replies. Discussions about OSS business models tend to concentrate mostly on the dynamics between OS newcomers and the established traditional companies. But what happens to startups with traditional business model? My feeling is 'nothing' -- because there won't be any. Thats an exaggeration, but one of my main concerns has been, which Cameron also points out, that the existence of OS alternatives in a given segment, and/or the threat of entrance of OS alternatives, makes that segment less attractive for starting a traditional company (and starting OS company is even more unattractive proposal for most). What happens to innovation then? Historically it has been the startups that innovate, not the established companies. Nati claims that open source drives innovation, but i cannot see any facts supporting this. Quite the contrary, it seems that successful open source companies have copied/implemented the features of established players and then penetrated the market with zero cost. Will we have segments that can support less developers (less brains innovating), less startups trying to penetrate those segments with innovation, more OSS companies copying existing features, and more consultants/service providers cashing in with the stagnating product development? Not the future i wanted to see. /Henri Karapuu
  12. Henri,
    Thats an exaggeration, but one of my main concerns has been, which Cameron also points out, that the existence of OS alternatives in a given segment, and/or the threat of entrance of OS alternatives, makes that segment less attractive for starting a traditional company (and starting OS company is even more unattractive proposal for most).
    You don't have to start new competing Open Source project if you want to create a start-up. You can have your business model around existing OS piece. Take Eclipse as example. There are a lot of ventures around it and still innovation is happening. I would bring another example from non-software world which is very similar to open source in nature. Universities and researchers. Most of the publications are available "open". And still I would call researcher as one of the most innovative profession nowadays. Mark bio: http://www.sourcekibitzer.org/Bio.ext?sp=l8
  13. Open Source doesn't kill the rules of economics :) so the competition will still be there. And you can see quite a few domains where OSS project competing each other: IDEs, Web Frameworks, Application Servers. There is one thing important to mention when talking about Open Source advantages. Open source is not just about being free, it is more about being OPEN. For some users it is very important to be able to extends and control the piece of software they buy or get. Mark http://www.sourcekibitzer.org/Bio.ext?sp=l8