[TriLUG] Can open source solutions be viable companies?
scottchilcote at earthlink.net
Mon Jul 1 15:08:42 EDT 2002
I think the first question your company needs to consider is how to mesh
the Open Source point of view with its business philosophy - if
possible. They can certainly start by reading Raymond, Levine,
Stallman, and Young on the subject.
I worked for an Open Source company not long ago that was taken over by
an aggressive, "make a good financial report and SELL" conglomerate. I
had the opportunity to be present when the issue of using an Open Source
model was raised before its management.
The company's new management was completely focused on becoming
profitable quickly, and despite the product's dependence on Linux and
GNU as a platform, Open Source was never considered seriously. Although
I have enjoyed and benefitted from Free Software and Open Source for
years, I felt hard pressed to come up with a convincing strategy for
this company to accomplish its fast-track goals.
Give away the product and sell consulting? Sell the documentation?
Sell boxed product but let anyone download it? Sell 24-hour support?
Or even, sell a bare-bones version and cost-extra upgrades (but that's
stepping outside the lines). Just try floating any of these concepts
past a purely profit-motivated management team that doesn't care what
kind of widget it's selling as long as the numbers look good.
The Bioinformatics field seems driven by long established corporate
roots with little reason to explore alien-seeming business models,
especially in areas far outside of their home turf. Do you think they'd
seriously consider a new approach? Do they think they stand to gain
Or, are they more concerned about what they might lose? This would be
the case if the cost of porting what they already have based on GPL and
Open Source licensing is large enough. I'm really curious what's
driving them to consider Open Source.
Vestal, Roy L. wrote:
> One of our project directors, a Linux supporter, asked me to ask the group,
> specifically RedHat folks the following question. There is a big debate in
> the bioinformatics community, which has been using Linux as a solution
> because of cost more than anything. Now that bioinformatics are becoming
> more "mainstream", better monies are coming in. Now they are starting to
> look elsewhere. If we as a community can show how Linux is viable in this
> emerging field, then maybe it will help show that Linux is viable.
> Question to me:
> "Do you have pointers to info on how open-source solutions can still be
> viable companies. There is a big debate in the bioinformatics community
> about this, and I thought you might have some info."
> Any info would be greatly appreciated.
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