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Open Source Pioneer Michael Tiemann On Open Source Business Success 41

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the smash-the-system dept.
ectoman (594315) writes Opensource.com has a summary of an interview with Michael Tiemann, co-founder of Cygnus Solutions and one of the world's first open source entrepreneurs. Now VP of Open Source Affairs at Red Hat, Tiemann offers an historical perspective on what makes open source businesses successful, and shares how he dealt with the open source movement's early skeptics. "A lot of the skepticism is a response to the abstract; it's a response to the unknown," Tiemann says, "And when you bring a concrete success story with just absolutely stellar credentials that doesn't just outperform the field, but embarrasses the field, then the skeptics begin to look like they're on the wrong side." The full audio interview on Hacker Public radio (~1 hour).
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Open Source Pioneer Michael Tiemann On Open Source Business Success

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  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @11:20AM (#47606865)

    I'm a big proponent of open source, but I still have yet to have anything but small victories. I've gotten a few small tools and such approved. But getting executives to "bet" on large, enterprise applications that could sink the company if they go south? Not going to happen yet. As far as they're concerned the softwares maintained by a team of teenagers in their parents basements. They can get binding contracts that state the goals and future of commercial software. We've a lot of evidence that those contracts are rarely abided by, but at least you can sue someone and have a scapegoat when that happens. But with open source, they fear everyone could just up and quit tomorrow leaving them hanging.

    I don't have a solution to that perception problem, but it's the single biggest problem I have in selling Open Source to executives. Figure that one out, and commercial software will be dead tomorrow.

    • Figure that one out, and commercial software will be dead tomorrow.

      Why must it die? Has the "world been saved" then?

      • Figure that one out, and commercial software will be dead tomorrow.

        Why must it die? Has the "world been saved" then?

        I didn't say it needed to. I was stating what would factually happen. Like: "If it's 80 degrees out tomorrow, your snowman will melt" Does the snowman need to melt? No... but it's going to happen.

      • by znrt (2424692)

        Figure that one out, and commercial software will be dead tomorrow.

        Why must it die? Has the "world been saved" then?

        dunno, but the moment there is no "commercial" anything, the world will have learned.

    • by dbc (135354)

      Cygnus approached that in part by being the party selling support on a contract basis. They came in wearing suits, asking for signatures on expensive contracts, and promised to fix the bugs and implement special requirements. You said it yourself, what the execs want is supported software, they really don't give a rat's butt where the software comes from, they just want to know that in the future they can get someone's undivided attention when it needs fixing, and that the party that will fix it has the r

    • by Arker (91948)
      The unspoken assumption behind your comment (and much else on the page) is that it's important for 'open source' to be accepted by big business.

      Why?
      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        The unspoken assumption behind your comment (and much else on the page) is that it's important for 'open source' to be accepted by big business.

        Why?

        Because some things (for this thesis let's say it's a crypto algorithm) work much better when they are visible to all parties, and those with a vested interest commit themselves via development time instead of cash. If you need a good crypto algorithm and you pay a closed source company for it, either you or the company you paid had better employ an army of mathematicians in order to validate that the process is secure, otherwise it could have (probably does have) a flaw just waiting to be exploited. Your

        • by Arker (91948)
          You're telling me why businesses need free software. That's not in question. The question is who needs these big corpos? If they prefer not to adapt then they can die, and why should I mourn them?
      • The unspoken assumption behind your comment (and much else on the page) is that it's important for 'open source' to be accepted by big business.

        Why?

        Because I'm employed by Big buisness and Big buisness would benifit greatly by open source software. Things are different today than they were in the 80s and 90s. Those big contracts with IBM, Sun, Oracle etc... meant something. Now they don't... not even with those same large companies (especially Oracle) what they promise and what they deliver are rarely the same. Alternative companies come and go with the wind. In open source, if someone drops the ball on an app you can pick it up yourself and continue o

    • They can get binding contracts that state the goals and future of commercial software.

      No they can't at least not across the board. There are plenty of companies that smiply outright won't do that (e.g. Microsoft).

      ut with open source, they fear everyone could just up and quit tomorrow leaving them hanging.

      As opposed to companies which never go bust.

      We've a lot of evidence that those contracts are rarely abided by, but at least you can sue someone and have a scapegoat when that happens.

      Well, that's also poin

      • by exomondo (1725132)
        The real point is this isn't a question of open source vs closed source, plenty of big corps already use open source and they aren't likely to invest in a product of dubious origins regardless of whether that product is open or closed.
    • by Kjella (173770)

      They can get binding contracts that state the goals and future of commercial software.

      Who, pray tell, are those? Anything I've seen of forward looking statements come with at least a full page of legalese saying that anything you see here of roadmaps, features, demos and whatnot may be the lucid ravings of a madman that may or may not be implemented at some undetermined point in the future regardless of any other statements about what, how or when they "think" or "plan" or "intend" to do anything. You can get guarantees of non-specific support and/or development for X years but in practice t

    • But your managers already heard of someone that filled a bug in any MS product and get it fixed? But a real case with link to it, not the urban legend "I have a friend that found a bug on IIS and MS fixed it. Who will fix a bug on Apache?".

      And, in the other side, your company can, for sure, make contracts with big Open Source guys, like Red Hat and Canonical.

    • by exomondo (1725132)

      I've gotten a few small tools and such approved. But getting executives to "bet" on large, enterprise applications that could sink the company if they go south? Not going to happen yet.

      Like what for example? Many large companies use open source products like Linux, Apache webserver, Android devices and there are a lot of studios that use Blender. It isn't a question of open source, it is - like proprietary software - a question of the reputation of the developer(s) and the product.

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