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A Rebuttal and Reply on "The Very Real Limitations of Open Source"

Jun 11, 2002, 16:00 (14 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Derek Vadala, John Carroll)

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O'Reilly.net: Dear John: Regarding "The Very Real Limitations of Open Source"

"First take the many corporations that help subsidize open source projects by paying programmers to work on open source software. Look at the many developers employed by companies like IBM, SGI, Quantum, and RedHat to name just a few. As open source becomes more pervasive, corporations like the ones I've mentioned will continue to hire open source developers because having them on staff allows these companies to better compete for very lucrative service and support contracts. After all, it's more likely that I'll hire IBM to help my organization migrate to JFS because Steve Best works there.

"Or, look at the success of Marty Roesch (Snort) who landed $2 million worth of venture capital last March, in the middle of a declining economy. Marty's company Sourcefire builds on top of his open source project by offering consulting services and developing better management tools. While not every OSS developer can secure that kind of venture capital, that shouldn't stop anyone from following the same model by supplementing OSS projects with consulting and value-added services..."

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ZDNet: Facing the Open Source Firing Squad

"As Vadala noted, IBM maintains a team dedicated to assisting the Apache project. I have worked with Apache's SOAP server for Java, a product originally written by IBM and donated to Apache.

"I question, however, whether IBM views investment in open source projects as a profit center. Think about the types of open source products IBM spends its money on: Apache's Web server, the Java SOAP server, and for a time, the Mozilla browser project. I would categorize these as software 'plumbing,' like TCP/IP stacks are to Web applications. It is base level infrastructure whose importance is derived from the kinds of software you build on top of it. Some companies make money from software 'plumbing,' but most don't (including Microsoft) simply because there is so much of it already in existence that hoping to sell it would be an exercise in futility..."

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