The Open Source Heretic -

I just read an article about how McVoy, the founder of BitMover, thinks about Open Source these days. Clearly, he had some bad experiences with an Open Source developer and now he loaths everything Open. Well, maybe that's an overstatement, but he still isn't saying nice things about Open Source. Take for example this article on Forbes, in which he says Open Source isn't a sustainable business model. Even though that's just his opinion and he has a right to his opinion, I think his reasoning is kinda flawed.

For example, just below the brief explaination of how Red Hat operates, he's quoted with:

"One problem with the services model is that it is based on the idea that you are giving customers crap--because if you give them software that works, what is the point of service?"

But, a few paragraphs beneath that, he's quoted as:

"Open source software is like handing you a doctor's bag and the architectural plans for a hospital and saying, 'Hey dude, if you have a heart attack, here are all the tools you need--and it's free,'" McVoy says. "I'd rather pay someone to take care of me."

Now, I think this is a nice contradiction. And it takes you immediatly to the essence of Open Source business models. You don't pay for the program, you pay for the support. Because even if you have the program, you're still on your own on how to implement this. And making a reference to McVoy's last quote, you still need to be a docter to make use of the tools. You still need to be a professional (or at least an experienced amateur) in Open Source to know how to deploy it best.

And that's where the essence of Open Source business models lies, not in the fact that you can make some tool, but in the fact that you know how to deploy it best. You need someone who knows how all those different tools can neatly co-exist and even work together on a common goal. And if I need to alter a program to make it work in your specific setup, I'll make those alterations available for everyone, because I'm not doing something special, I'm doing something another professional can do as easily. But I'm saving someone else's time. Like they save my time by contributing back to the Open Source community. It all connects.

And that's how an Open Source-based company, like our company, works and thrives. It's a shame McVoy doesn't understand this.


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