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Steve Jones
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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Go Open

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But then you would say that, surely? I mean, you're not exactly independent...
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I would think that the software as a service model... or newly labeled cloud computing may benefit more from the economy than open source. Depending on the service packages that become available businesses could spend less in a year and not have to employ the technical support/developers.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the next 18 - 24 months. The winners of this period of time will be those who offer purchasing, delivery and support options that are creative and new.
Jack Corbett
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I'm neither for nor against open source. I personally do not use linux because I really don't have the time to learn how to administer it, I have enough trouble keeping current with SQL Server. I think the downside to open-source is that you are depending on a community to support the product. With Windows or SQL Server, if I have a major problem I can call support and hopefully get an answer. I know you can purchase support for MySQL and Linux, but then it's not "free" anymore. I think you need to use products that you can support in-house. If you are a Windows/SQL Server shop you probably don't want to switch to MySQL or Oracle.



Jack Corbett

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I'm not sure you can link the OpenSource movement to the economic downturn directly - though I believe there may be some connection. Microsoft themselves are, to some companies, sealing their own doom not only with Vista, but with Office 2007.

One of our companies specializes in conversions and migrations and though business is going well, we have seen a trend developing where some (and a growing number of) IT decision makers are shunning the entire scope of Office 2007 products. Microsoft has been banking on the backbone of XML to drive the interoperability of their Office products (and more). But as some are more-than-aware, there are many who see XML as bulky, clunky, way too overly complex for what it does, and most of all a great leap backwards in interoperability. Sure, as Microsoft goes, so goes the world, but with almost 30 years in the business I am very surprised at what I am seeing and hearing in the field. There are always complaints about MS, but these are now in many cases, becoming a lot more than mere whining.

We have been surprised that some companies tell us they will not be converting to Office 2007 and will be giving strong consideration to the OpenSource world. One oft-heard reason is Microsoft's dropping of version control in the 2007 suite - its no longer supported. Another complaint is the alteration of formats in Word, Excel and Access files poses simply too much risk to huge bases of software documents and sub-systems. Yet another oft-heard complaint is the great alteration in the interface in Office 2007 - it just presents way too steep a learning curve for companies with thousands of workers used to older versions. There are these and many other valid complaints out there, brewing up a potential storm.

Although it is not yet a torrent, there is a steady drumbeat growing where IT decision makers are considering OpenSource like never before. I hear these comments tied to Microsoft's failure more than any economic reasons. Vista is considered largely doomed, and Office 2007 appears as though it might go the same way to a growing number of large companies unwilling to trust Microsoft's vision anymore.

As a former IBM-er, OpenSource can work but its marketing that I think has always staved that off. That is, MS has the huge marketing power that historically has been the wall to OpenSource. That wall seems now, often crumbling. So, the economy might be playing a role here, but I think more, its Microsoft's vision that has really gone awry in the eyes of a growing number of professionals and companies.

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I think that the problem goes all the way down to philosophical principles. On a high level, it's capitalism vs more socialistic views of the world. Are you better off with idealistic stuff produced for 'free' by idealists, or are you better off with something that's making money for somebody? I think you're going to get better quality in the long run when somebody's career is based on the product working correctly and meeting the needs of the purchaser and the market. This doesn't make products based on capitalistic principles perfect (of course!) but it answers business questions like:
-Are the people who make this product going to be around for a long time?
-Is there a large pool of people who know how to make it work?
-Does the product function to strict standards as opposed to variations introduced by every user?

Businesses are usually better off making the investment in products with a support structure, even if times are lean right now. Better to do things that Steve is suggesting like putting off an upgrade or increasing hardware-replacement cycles than moving your whole operation to software that may not be around in a few years.

P.S. This is why Microsoft needs to stress quality, performance, and support over new features. We're paying for stuff that's supposed to work. Free stuff starts looking very attractive when expensive stuff is perceived as having low quality. And please stop making changes in the interface just for change sake - it's scaring people away...

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I work for a small company that develops java applications, mostly in the financial integration sector. For us open source is a natural (and really the only sensible) choice; try and find a java application that doesn't include libraries from the apache foundation, for instance. You'll have a hard time.

I think you're going to get better quality in the long run when somebody's career is based on the product working correctly and meeting the needs of the purchaser and the market.

I don't agree. Products are being released before they are ready all the time because the marketing people had already arranged the launch party and VP John had promised SVP Jill that it would be out on time. Open source projects do not need to do that exactly because no career is at stake; they can afford to say 'no, its not ready' and delay the release.
For open source projects the driving force is not money but instead two things : 1. a product that the developers can use themselves and 2. pride in a product that is as good as possible.
Andy Lennon
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Jack Corbett (11/18/2008)
If you are a Windows/SQL Server shop you probably don't want to switch to MySQL or Oracle.


I wholeheartedly agree. The core software of a business or department should not be changed; unless the company is prepared for a massive investment in training and accompanying downtime. I think Steve is right when he brings up 'applications' though. There are numerous little tools that an IT department can come to depend on outside of core business operations: help desk ticket software, remote desktop alternatives (if not RDP), presentation software, etc. There are sleek, stable open source alternatives to the proprietary material that dominates these sorts of needs. It is in these areas where open source can make the most headway, since it can save on a budget without the kind of personnel expenditure or risk that swapping out core systems would entail.
Economy or not, saving money seems like good business practice to me. BigGrin
Someguy
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For open source projects the driving force is not money but instead two things : 1. a product that the developers can use themselves and 2. pride in a product that is as good as possible.


I appreciate your perspective, but I'm afraid you've just made my point. When developers run shops, they're notorious for producing a lot of things that look and feel great for developers but which don't meet the needs of a changing market ("Hey, why did we ever leave DOS? - We don't need all of that fancy User Interface nonsense! Any person with a brain can just memorize line commands..."). We don't need perfect buggy whips, but that's what we would have if carriage makers controlled the transportation industry. I think too that we're forgetting what Microsoft has given us: a dominant platform. I remember well the days of Atari, Commodore, Radio shack and others. Anyone who wrote software had to make it for numerous, diverse platforms. And if the company you're working for goes out of business, that's it. It's hard to find work when you're writing in languages that aren't supported anymore for hardware that doesn't exist. If Microsoft ever goes down (and it surely will someday) it will do so after moving computers from the labs of scientists and hobbyists into the hands of average people and after creating a lot of high-paying jobs for developers like us. When it does go down I hope we won't go back to the days of every-man-for-himself. Open source has the potential of taking us back there fast.

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Steve Jones
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I doubt I'm more biased than anyone else that doesn't work for a vendor of a platform, or doesn't belive in Open Source.

I've made my living off SQL Server, but I've looked at the alternatives at times, and there is nothing wrong with them. Sometimes they fit, sometimes they don't, but in any case, whether you were going from .NET to Java or back, the skills of the people should play an impact on things.

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