Open Source: the Circle of Life

I like free software, especially if it “s legally free. When a bunch of programmers-enthusiasts gather in a basement ( a.k.a. ) to write some tools for fun, it “s a real open source. Meanwhile, up in the sky a bunch of hawks (a.k.a. venture capitalists) are slowly sailing over the sourceforge ready to dive… Then a tool xyz is getting popular and 50000 people have downloaded it. Creators of xyz start thinking, “Can xyz make us some money? rdquo;. At the same time the hawk dives upon the download counter used as bait…

The corporate world ignores xyz for some time, until xyz becomes a household name. It “s a really difficult task for any software to be approved for use in production environment. Meanwhile, up in the sky a bunch of hawks (a.k.a. open source service providers) are slowly sailing over the corporation ready to dive. The corporation wind up with a free software and expensive service, training and support. At the end of the day, production deployment of the open source software is far from being free, but the total cost of ownership is still cheaper comparing to a similar commercial product.

So is this bad? Absolutely not. It “s a win-win situation:

a) for hawks (they make money)

b) for corporations (they save money)

c) for creators of the open source software (they become celebrities, which is exactly why they “ve gathered in the basement in the

first place)

d) for regular developers like you and me (we can download free versions not only of the open source products, but legally

free developer “s formerly trial versions of commercial software: the vendors have to package give away free version of their software to compete with the open source products ).

Who is the loser then? The short term loser is the software vendor who “s producing the tool competing with xyz. No worries. First of, they “ve earned enough money in the past reselling the written-once software. Second, instead of selling their software, they “ll make it free and will charge premium for service and support. So they are not losers either.

Next morning, in one of the basements two smart college kids will come up with a new idea (i.e. to make a better and faster search engine)… While kids are working on their engine, the hawks are thinking of the proper business model for this tool…. The president of the corporation N keeps sleeping well …for another couple of months…

Competition rules! Open source rules!

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