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Open Source Licensing - Cuts Both Ways? 367

Posted by Hemos
from the up-for-debate dept.
shortscruffydave writes "The Register is running a piece Open source databases - a sword that cuts both ways? which mentions one of the potential pitfalls of open source databases: "Open source is just another licensing model: the more accepted it becomes, the more it is adopted at a strategic level, the more it plays back into the hands of the traditional behemoths that dominate the industry". " I couldn't disagree more with the author of this piece, since I think the success of Postgres & MySQL are already contra-proof positive, but the piece is still an interesting read.
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Open Source Licensing - Cuts Both Ways?

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  • OpenSourcing a DB (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mirko (198274) on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:06AM (#12133329) Journal
    It's still a good idea as it allows third parties to write plugins and conduits more easily for it.
    • Re:OpenSourcing a DB (Score:5, Informative)

      by kevin_conaway (585204) on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:21AM (#12133485) Homepage
      You don't need open source for this. Merely publishing an API and an SDK would accomplish that.
      • Re:OpenSourcing a DB (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mirko (198274)
        Sometimes, benefiting from the source code as well allows you to optimize the way you will help the db internals to assimilate the data it receives from its interfaces.
        • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Monday April 04, 2005 @11:29AM (#12134089) Journal
          If you depend on the source code for optimizations, don't you get yourself into a situation where you have to review any upgrades to ensure that your optimization haven't gotten "broken"? I like APIs, as they shift the responsibility back to the first party...

          Granted, nothing I do requires incredible optimization to run efficently. I imagine their are some power users who need this. However, in my experience, there are more people who think they are cutting edge than there really are...
      • by nikai (614442) <nikai@nikai.net> on Monday April 04, 2005 @11:12AM (#12133960)
        I absolutely disagree.

        Take a company that is in control of an open source project. If they change their project radically, in a way other users of the software don't like, these can branch at any time. This allows them to at least maintain the old version of the software.

        However, there has to be open source code for that. If all you have is an API and an SDK, you can't maintain such an older version for your ever-changing environment, should those in control of the closed source move into a direction you don't like.
      • Said the guy who never wrote a low level plugin. It is extremely helpful to have the source code of the thing that is interacting with your code.
    • by OwnedByTwoCats (124103) on Monday April 04, 2005 @11:56AM (#12134357)
      The unstated premise of the article is that users of an open-source Database are just as much at the mercy of the vendors as are the customers of a proprietary Database. I believe this is not true for the general case. So the author's argument, that Open Source is to be avoided because the vendors Can't Make Money, is fatally flawed.
      • True, but (Score:4, Informative)

        by einhverfr (238914) <{chris.travers} {at} {gmail.com}> on Monday April 04, 2005 @02:26PM (#12135936) Homepage Journal
        In certain circumstances, open source projects are very dependent on vendor support. For example, MySQL (because even the client libs are licensed under essentially the GPL, which prevents linking with many other open source projects), and to a lesser extent BerkelyDB. If MySQL AB went out of business today, MySQL (the open source database management system) IMO would likely be seriously wounded. Yes, it may continue, but I don't think it would continue with anywhere near the momentum it has today until such a time as a new version comes out with a new protocol.and completely rewritten client libs.

        You can divide open source software into two groups. There are those which are dual licensed (esp. those which are restrictively dual-licensed, such as MySQL) and there are those which are real community projects. The first case could be effectively destroyed or at least set back a number of years by the vendor going out of business, while the second will continue without anyone.

        The article makes the mistake of assuming that these are the same. They are not.
  • I call bull (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MPHellwig (847067) * <mhellwig@xs4all.nl> on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:07AM (#12133339) Homepage
    The arguments given in the article are inadequate IMHO, they are just as and mostly more applicable to closed source software.
    The key argument for open source vs closed source is: The source is available, you can support/develop it by your own or hire in support/development/warranty, now try that with closed source.
    All disadvantages for open source are at least applicable for closed source, closed source has no real advantage on open source.
    • Re:I call bull (Score:4, Interesting)

      by cosinezero (833532) on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:11AM (#12133371)
      "closed source has no real advantage on open source." -->Except for that little thing called "Developers getting paid"... Sure, there's all this "support" argument, but I worked my ass off to get out of support. I don't want to do support. I want to write code that is so good it doesn't -require- support, and be paid for it.
      • Talking about the end user side, not the developer side of things.
      • Re:I call bull (Score:4, Insightful)

        by bman08 (239376) on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:22AM (#12133500)
        Is it possible to get paid writing open source code for companies that don't provide software as their business? Aren't the guys working on cinepaint, for example, doing just that?
        • Re:I call bull (Score:3, Informative)

          by mabhatter654 (561290)
          A great example of why most companies shouldn't fear Open source, is the ERP market.

          I work for a steel mill. Years ago they bought out the source code to their "proprietary" ERP system because they needed changes the company didn't want to support.. Of course they still pay maintenance fees for what amounts to 50%+ their own stuff, but we couldn't move to a "new" version from the company without lots of $$$$.

          But how would their situation differ if they used Open source software? They pay third-party

      • Re:I call bull (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Secrity (742221) on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:29AM (#12133557)
        Are you saying that Red Hat's developers don't get paid? Are you saying that Suse's developers don't get paid? Are you saying that sendmail's developers don't get paid? There are open source projects that do pay developers and nobody is being forced to work on an open source project without pay. Nobody is stopping you from writing closed source code that is so good that it doesn't require support. There is also nothing that would force anybody to pay you for writing that code. Choose the business model that you are most comfortable with.
        • Re:I call bull (Score:2, Insightful)

          by cosinezero (833532)
          You're talking about -major- projects, and for products that thrive on support for either open OR closed models. But I develop in business application markets - where the ideal goal is ZERO support and training required. That's the pinnacle of office software - to be so intuitive that a child could use it.

          You should be paid for your -features-, not for someone else's work training people on it. We don't pay Ford on the driver's training fees, nor can we.

          And I call bullshit anyways - Red hat developers get
          • Re:I call bull (Score:3, Informative)

            by Directrix1 (157787)
            Those are big words coming from someone who develops fingerpainting software..... yes they are .... such big words. Real world applications, even if you provide screen by screen instructions on how to do everything, ALWAYS need support in one form or another. If it was easy to do, a business wouldn't make money doing it. Additionally, businesses want tools that get the job done the way they want it. If a business has a programmer on payroll, then they can get things done using open source, contributing
      • Re:I call bull (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I want to write code that is so good it doesn't -require- support,

        No such thing.

        Next.
      • "closed source has no real advantage on open source." -->Except for that little thing called "Developers getting paid"

        Yes, and it'd be very nice if all of the creative work that anyone felt like they wanted to do could be highly paid.
        • Re:I call bull (Score:2, Insightful)

          by cosinezero (833532)
          Yeah, it would. Where do you see open source changing that, and further, how do propose that we creative developers defend ourselves against a big fish picking the project up and 'providing support' for it, and NOT paying developers?
          • Re:I call bull (Score:3, Insightful)

            by tbannist (230135)
            You don't release it as open source, or you don't spit in the companies face when they come to talk to you. Any company should want to hire you, if they are going to provide support for the project you built, unless of course you're a total crackpot...

            Wait, nevermind...
      • Re:I call bull (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lilo_booter (649045)
        I get paid to develop Open Source software and so do many others.

        Doing so ensures that not only I do get the immediate returns, I get a longer term return in that I can reuse components freely for multiple customers (assuming that they have compatible licensing and goals). This is rarely an option with closed source; I've even worked in closed source companies that have multiple customers - sometimes they won't even let you share code between them.

        As for writing software that doesn't need support - heh
        • Re:I call bull (Score:2, Insightful)

          by cosinezero (833532)
          Yes, but while that's fine and well and good, and explainable to other techies, the general populace doesn't get a piece of buggy or obtuse code and say "Well, I suppose I should pay them to patch this!", they say "eff this, this software sucks!" Seriously, find a job in technical support. I spent 2 years as a tier-two technician for a certain software empire. Users don't want to pay for bug fixes, compatability changes, or useability features after-the-fact. They want that in -this- release, free or other
          • Re:I call bull (Score:2, Interesting)

            by lilo_booter (649045)
            And you misunderstand entirely - I said 'I get paid to develop Open Source' not that 'I sell Open Source' - there's a big and subtle difference.

            Software development is not just about developing shrink wrapped solutions to the world at large - organisations pay for development for inhouse use, some use it for embedding in their products, others use software for their business to business communications and yes, some produce shrink wrapped solutions.

            But let's assume that I were developing shrink wrapped s
      • Re:I call bull (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Monday April 04, 2005 @11:03AM (#12133868) Homepage Journal
        My boss paid me quite a lot of money to write Free Software [honeypot.net]. So much for your hypothesis.
      • Re:I call bull (Score:5, Insightful)

        by BabyPanther (813124) on Monday April 04, 2005 @11:09AM (#12133937)
        I want to write code that is so good it doesn't -require- support, and be paid for it.

        The last time I saw a developer that good...was...well, hell, I haven't seen one that good.

        I actually believe that developers should always sit on the support lines for the products they write. Surprisingly enough, practical, well-built interfaces start to appear after the developer is forced to take the 900th call concerning a poorly implemented feature.

      • "closed source has no real advantage on open source." -->Except for that little thing called "Developers getting paid"

        You're almost right here, but not quite. There are many business models that allow developers of open source software to be paid. The problem is, their is not a widespread and accepted method for funding open source technologies, that does not bring with it some disadvantages.

        Redhat's model for example is to develop software that is open source and sell support and services for that

      • "closed source has no real advantage on open source." -->Except for that little thing called "Developers getting paid"... Sure, there's all this "support" argument, but I worked my ass off to get out of support. I don't want to do support. I want to write code that is so good it doesn't -require- support, and be paid for it.

        Yep, nobody over at MySQL, RedHat, IBM, OSDL, Novell or the Apache Project (to name 6) are getting paid.

        Just because you are not a sucessful Opensource developer does not mean that
        • Re:I call bull (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jrockway (229604) *
          Getting paid is not necessarily "success". I enjoy writing open-source software because it's ... enjoyable. I do other stuff to make money (although now I am modding bugzilla for work-related purposes and am being paid :).
      • "closed source has no real advantage on open source." -->Except for that little thing called "Developers getting paid"...

        Since when does being "closed-source" mean "getting paid"? Yes, many companies base their model on closed source. Many others base their model on open source, and make [redhat.com] plenty [mysql.org] of [sleepycat.com] money [trolltech.com].

        So wake up and smell the coffee! Times change, and your FUD-like statements are just so provably wrong.

        Didn't you see the article yesterday on how open source drives down the cost of startup? [slashdot.org]

        Don
    • I agree, whether or not a project is "strategic" for a company, if it has a dedicated community around it it will survive. That's kind of the whole point.
    • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:14AM (#12133407) Homepage Journal
      Elmer must've got up early and munched a wot of waxative to pump out dat kinda FUD.
      A more full treatment of the TFA topic can be found in Coase's Penguin [benkler.org].
      From the abstract:
      In this paper I explain that while free software is highly visible, it is in fact only one example of a much broader social-economic phenomenon. I suggest that we are seeing is the broad and deep emergence of a new, third mode of production in the digitally networked environment. I call this mode "commons-based peer-production," to distinguish it from the property- and contract-based models of firms and markets. Its central characteristic is that groups of individuals successfully collaborate on large-scale projects following a diverse cluster of motivational drives and social signals, rather than either market prices or managerial commands.
      My personal spin is that, just as the printing press broke down the medieval market on literacy, so the GPL will increasingly educate the masses.
      Props to RMS, the modern Gutenberg.
    • Re:I call bull (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ergo98 (9391)
      The source is available, you can support/develop it by your own or hire in support/development/warranty, now try that with closed source.

      The benefit of having the source is grossly overstated by most FOSS advocates.

      Seriously, how many people really want to be developing/modifying their back-end RDBMS? Personally I'd rather just install SQL Server or DB2 and let Microsoft or IBM deal with that - my domain is in a different realm, and the database server simply supports it. I'm not going to spend 100s of h
      • The point isnt that you as an end-user without programming skill have access to the source, the point is that hundreds of others who *do* have programming skills, have access to the source. Or hat you as the end user, posessing the source, could provide it to a contracted programmer, etc, if the original/current developer/company 'goes away' for some reason.

        If your proprietary DB developer/company 'goes away' (or even just if they decide to discontinue the product in question), you are compeletely SOL and
      • I consider open source to be akin to the insurance policy on my personal property: It's nice to know I have protection if I need it. If I'm using a database server, and the company goes out of business or decides to merge with another company, I'm not completely screwed by political or business decisions that could affect how I do business. If IBM decided tomorrow that DB2 was unprofitable and decided to sell it to Sybase, there are some business decisions that could come out of that merger that may be detr
    • The key argument for open source vs closed source is: The source is available, you can support/develop it by your own or hire in support/development/warranty, now try that with closed source

      The problem is that most companies don't want to do this for commodity-type software. They would rather spend the extra money to buy something from a large, well-known company that will support it for them, rather than deal with hiring developers to support the software themselves. While you, and others, may disa

  • by NerdHead (35767) * on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:08AM (#12133345)
    Licensing is what keeps those behemoths from getting their hands on these
    applications. It is interesting that the writer didn't tell us what option
    he'd prefer - a closed license or no license at all. MySQL is offering a
    choice of a commercial license or open-source. Money is important for the
    survival of the company that markets open-source products but open-source
    licenses don't restrict companies from charging for their product and MySQL
    is a good example for how to deal with the issue.
    • It is interesting that the writer didn't tell us what option he'd prefer

      Well that's no surprise, given that the article said nothing of any substance whatsoever.

      In effect what we have here is a manager of some sort seeking justification for his role in applying "strategy management" to open source. I bet the managers around him think that he's really cool and clued up on all this.

      In reality, he just doesn't understand that the value of FOSS doesn't come from the financial muscle and longevity of its co
  • Say what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SilverspurG (844751) * on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:08AM (#12133348) Homepage Journal
    Paragraph 1: Intro
    Paragraph 2: Planning considerations
    Paragraph 3: Existing players
    Paragraph 4: Business considerations
    Paragraph 5: Unsupported assertions
    Paragraph 6: Unsupported assertions

    Who founded Bloor Research? Who funds them? Who owns stock in them? Who are the members of their executive board and what are their social connections?

    This is a really bad piece.
    • Re:Say what? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:41AM (#12133673) Homepage Journal
      Look at some of they're other reports
      In "The Road Ahead", Bill Gates himself wrote enthusiastically about the "software ecosystem" that surrounded Microsoft in its early years. It made a huge contribution to the success of Windows, by creating an application-rich environment. The same kind of ecosystem now surrounds Open Source and it is growing quickly. I am amazed by its potential. It could completely undermine Microsoft's monopoly, and it probably will. -- Samba, Soccer and Open Source [it-director.com]
      Microsoft has a horrible position to defend; they have created a monster of complexity by enabling such an open model. Whilst it is true that we as consumers have seen the benefits of lower prices and mounting capability, there has been a price to pay. When the foundation is so shaky, you cannot be certain whether you will derive benefit from an update or whether in fact it will cause untold grief. -- Further problems associated with Service Pack 2? [it-director.com]
      Doesn't read like a Gartner-style MS schill to me...
      • Re:Say what? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hab136 (30884)
        Doesn't read like a Gartner-style MS schill to me

        Just because they're not a Microsoft shill [reference.com], doesn't mean they're not a shill. Who would care about open source databases? Maybe Oracle, IBM (DB2), etc?

    • If you looked at this list & expected to see it end:

      Paragraph 7: ???
      Paragraph 8: Profit!

      Geoff
  • Personally I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:09AM (#12133356)
    The article is right, which ever piece of software, you are locked into using the program the way the author designed, you are locked into the upgrade paths the author leads you, you are locked into any future costs the author charges.

    Yes you can change the platform you are based on, but this typically costs more money than it is worth.

    Yes you could modify the source, but this will cost more money than it is worth in R&D.

    I.E., yes you are locked in, in the same way that the traditional behemoths that dominate the industry haved succesfully negotiated.
    • Yes you can change the platform you are based on, but this typically costs more money than it is worth.

      Sometimes one doesn't have a choice. Outgrowing old hardware, for instance. Yes you could modify the source, but this will cost more money than it is worth in R&D.

      I've not found this to be true. Typically mods that would be needed are relatively small. It may take awhile to garner enought of an understanding of the existing code to properly make the change, howerver. It certainlty beats waiting

    • by genneth (649285)

      Yes you could modify the source, but this will cost more money than it is worth in R&D.

      Errr... isn't the cost of changing the source EXACTLY the cost of R&D? The cost of software drops as it scales in use, that's why consumer level software is affordable. MS Office is not less complex than say Maya, or "easier" in some sense to make. It just sells more copies, so the cost of R&D (all software development (not including marketing, etc) is R&D) is spread over more customers. The worth of sof

    • Yes you could modify the source, but this will cost more money than it is worth in R&D.

      Nice try, but that's precisely the difference with closed source. In open source, the R&D is already done by whoever wrote and developed the code to begin with, just like with closed source. However, with open source, you can take the latest code, latest R&D that was just made, and change it any way you like the same day, unlike closed source where you would have to duplicate the R&D yourself.

      So

    • by dustmite (667870) on Monday April 04, 2005 @12:20PM (#12134589)

      I can't really agree. Being locked in to any platform is bad, sure, but you are only as locked in as you choose to be, because by and large there are cross-platform choices out there. And although it will never be 100% trouble-free to transition to alternative software, it is usually only minimal effort/expenditure required. And initial costs are usually only marginally higher. For example use wxWidgets [wxwidgets.org] for application development instead of a platform-specific API like Win32 or Cocoa. Not only is it a good API, but available for many platforms. Choose OpenGL instead of Direct3D for 3D graphics, games etc. Not only is it just as capable, it's cross-platform and non-proprietary. For databases use cross-platform database-neutral access methods like ODBC. We've done this with our application, and with only a relatively tiny amount of additional effort, we now have the choice of several major databases, and an easy path to others. If MySQL goes bad, we can just use another database.

      Many people become locked in because they choose to do so, most do not seem to realise the longer-term penalties incurred when they lock themselves in to the latest flashy proprietary goodies from the traditional behemoths. In some cases one might need some more advanced functionality available only from specific vendors, but in most cases the requirements are a lot simpler and if you know what you're doing, you can avoid locking yourself in so badly that you can never get out.

  • Misread TFA? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wild_berry (448019) on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:09AM (#12133360) Journal
    I may have misread TFA, but the author appears to have missed the strategic value that is to be gained from investing staff and company hours into F/OSS projects for internal use.

    The article seems to view the present hobbyist-driven projects as solutions procured in the same way that a company buys in commercial programming. The differences in modus operandi are so great that this cannot be the case. The trick is to find where the middle ground lies in order to profit.
  • Why not just say "not proof"?

    Or did the real meaning escape me, since that doesn't seem to be valid in just about any language? ;)

    • Because he want's to say that it's not proof would simply mean that the original author's proposition was unproven. What the submitter was trying to say, though, is that the success of MySQL and Postgres prove the opposite.
    • "Not proof" means the absence of proof. "Contra-proof positive" means there is proof, but it's directly contrary to what the original author claims.

      Say I claim that the sky is red and offer evidence to that effect. If my evidence is inadequate, then it's not proof. If my evidence proves that the sky is definitely not red, then it's contra-proof: it proves the opposite of what I am claiming.

      It would be less awkward to say "proof negative," but the contra- prefix is common in philosophical circles wher

  • by Evro (18923) * <evandhoffmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:10AM (#12133370) Homepage Journal
    "Dude, you're giving IBM free shit... they're not going to return the favor."

    Except they have? Article looks like flamebait/trolling to me, or else just ignorance.
  • Postgres? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:11AM (#12133374) Homepage
    I couldn't disagree more with the author of this piece, since I think the success of Postgres & MySQL are already contra-proof positive, but the piece is still an interesting read.

    For MySQL you could be right, but Postgres? It's not backed by a commercial group as is MySQL, and while it can be seen in a LOT of commercial (enterprise) situations, it's still a tiney speck compared to it's commercial backed friend MySQL (even though it is much more of a "real" db).

    • Re:Postgres? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BigGerman (541312)
      Mods, this is not a flamebait.
      The guy mentions couple of facts and states his opinion. Come on.
    • Re:Postgres? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      Which makes PostgreSQL a far better counterexample. The article argues that, without a successful company backing an open source DB, it will fade away and thus can't be used to develop `strategic' applications. The fact that PostgreSQL has developed to its current point without a commercial backer is a direct indication of this.

      A database company exists to sell copies of a database. If they produce a perfect database, then they can sell a finite number of copies, and then go out of business (or, they

    • Re:Postgres? (Score:3, Informative)

      by JohanV (536228)
      PostgreSQL not backed by a commercial group? You must be kidding. Just look at the Developer Bios [postgresql.org] page to see which companies back PostgreSQL. The core committee is employed by 6 different companies and if you look further down you will see many more. And several large contributors to the project, like Pervasive and Fujitsu which employ several full-time hackers and a support staff, aren't even in the list there.

      PostgreSQL is not backed by a single commercial group, it is backed by many commercial group
  • by kfstark (50638) on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:12AM (#12133387) Homepage
    If you are making strategic decisions about software at your corporation, you had better take into account that the software may no longer be supported in the future. This applies to closed source and open source projects.


    The benefit of open source is that if the original corporation writing the code stops supporting it there may be a community behind the software that will continue to support it as you transition. Also, another company may spring up with the same codebase.



    --Keith

  • by the_mighty_$ (726261) on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:13AM (#12133397)
    the more it is adopted at a strategic level, the more it plays back into the hands of the traditional behemoths that dominate the industry

    WHAT?!?!? You mean the "behemoths" can use open source too? How could this happen??!?! NO NO NO NO!!!!!

    [Sarcasm off]Well what do you expect. Don't forget that opensource software != free software. of course the big guys will start using opensource too, now that they've started to see that light. What did anyone expect? Did you want to FSF to have a monopoly on opensource forever? I think not. I think the result of "big behemoths" switching to open source will be more secure software being delivered to end users. That's the whole point of OSS!

    I for one welcome our opensource behemoth overlords.
  • by Karma Farmer (595141) on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:14AM (#12133410)
    I'll boil down the entire article to one sentance: "If you're implementing any type of 'strategic' software system, make certain you make sound business decisions when you choose the software."

    Know what you're buying. Know who you're buying it from. Consider the entire lifecycle of the software solutions you're building. Oh, and there was a throwaway blurb about open source.
  • If this qualifies as an "interesting read", I weep for the future of humanity. You know it's bad when the Slashdot summary is just as informative as the actual article.

    The central point seems to be that a company looking for an OSS product which is supported by a large company, will end up going with a large company's OSS product.

    Oh, wow. Insightful +1
    • It's even stupider than that ...

      The first premise stated is that there are too many (names just over a half-dozen) competing open-source databases, and that is too many to survive.

      Last I looked, producing a database product cost a lot less than producing a new car - that doesn't stop manufacturers from producing hundreds of different cars a year.

      Methinks the author of the article better look out for Simon (the BOfH) and his cattle prod.

  • IT Investment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MLopat (848735) on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:15AM (#12133425) Homepage
    I'm sure some of you may know, but many of you may be unaware that large enterprises need to be really choosy in the database solution that they use. Its not simply a matter of installing the cheapest DB. When you consider the sizable investment made by an IT department on the hardware and operating system platform, it really makes sense to invest wisely in the product that will actually retain all your company's data.

    With that said, given the choice between installing a poorly supported, poorly documented open source database, or something like Microsoft SQL Server, its obvious which solution will let you keep your cushy IT position. Furthermore, as good as I have to admit MySQL is, it still does not have support for such common things as triggers, views or even basic stored procedures never mind data warehousing.

    For these open source products to be taken seriously, the same sort of fundamental support and functionality will need to prevail as the costs of not having these far outweigh the monetary costs of the common retail solution.
    • I guess there are apps that require something like SQL Server or Oracle, and there are apps that don't require much beyond a plain old database, for which MySQL will do quite nicely. I'ld look at using an Open Source DB first. If I couldn't find the functionality I needed, then I'ld look to a DB such as Oracle or SQL Sever.
    • Unfortunatly MySQL 4 does have triggers and views, and if you need more, their's always postgres or firebird.

      Oracle has it's uses in large enviroments since it scales so much better.
      • Sorry, forgot to add that as far as documentation is concerned, the OSS DB's are just as well documented as most commerical offerings (with Oracle set asside), so to be perfectly honest, your post amounts to trolling no less.

        David
    • Re:IT Investment (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drooling-dog (189103)
      given the choice between installing a poorly supported, poorly documented open source database, or something like Microsoft SQL Server

      You're being a little presumptive there, aren't you? You'll keep your cushy IT position right up until your CEO starts noticing that his competitors are doing just fine with OSS (where appropriate, of course), and with greater flexibility and no vendor lock-in. Maybe you'll have some splainin' to do?

      Seriously, though... Maybe we need a discussion of what "support" really me

  • Trust the vendor? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CaptainZapp (182233) * on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:16AM (#12133431) Homepage
    Good grief; what a moron.

    No doubt that there are valid reasons for a commercial database vendor. But that guy makes about as much sense as the drooling drunk at 2am in front of the seedy night club in the bad part of town when it comes to "strategic decisions".

    Strategic decisions by definition are dangerous. When you decided on PeopleSoft 10 years ago this looked strategically sound. Until the good burgers from Oracle came along and bought them out in order to squash a competitor. By no fault of your own you are fucking fucked when you're a PeopleSoft customer.

    Au contraire I argue that especially in the db market having source access to your database software is about as strategically valuable as it comes.

    Sorry mate, but I have seen to many examples of customers being fucked over by vendors of strategic software and you can go and tell the PR department of { Oracle | Microsoft | IBM } that they are just dead wrong and for an "analyst" it's bad form to just reprint their spew.

    Not that I accuse you of doing that, but your "analysis" leaves a strong stench of not being quite independant.

  • If your using a closed source database and the company that owns it goes down the pan you're just stuffed.

    If its open, at least you have a chance to adapt and tinker to fix it.

    Though in either case you'd probablly just go with a different provider.
  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:18AM (#12133460)
    The article is saying that there is no money in open source, so the developers could walk away at any time and leave you stranded with an unsupported product.

    For those who didn't know redhat just posted record profits, and the share price just jumped about 12%.

    There is certainly money being made in open-source. The difference is: open-source will not die without money.
  • by overshoot (39700) on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:20AM (#12133476)
    is in the "these projects need to make money or they'll go away, leaving users stranded" premise.

    First off, open-source projects don't need to make money. Secondly, if users are dependent on them, they don't go away.

    The "problem" that Bloor describes is either a phantom or self-correcting, whichever way you choose to look at it.

  • Author has points (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gone.fishing (213219) on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:24AM (#12133512) Journal
    Damn straight - Open source software can be and should be strategic. When an enterprize selects strategic software they need to know that it will be around (and supported) for the long-haul. Millions of dollars could be riding on the issue.

    So, in a large sense, I agree with the author and will even say that in some cases, there is justifiable concern for an enterprize to avoid open software solutions.

    Having said all that, I'm far from opposing open source software in the enterprize, quite to opposite in fact. Products like MySQL and Apache prove that there is a lot of room and potential in big business for OSS.

    Anyone -- including big business needs to do a sort of risk evaluation before settling on anything that has the ability to affect the bottom line. For a public company it is more than business sense, it is the law. They need to know that the people they bring in on a project can do what they say they can do and just as importantly, that they will be around tomorrow to fix anything that is broken or needs changing.

    For this reason, the enterprize level open source market will probably grow through pretty conventional methods. Either there will be in-house expertiese or they will hire consulting firms with the skill, knowlege, and expertise to deliver. Those firms will in many cases be old, established, familiar names that recognize the need and make the right moves to get in the market.

    This isn't bad at all. It brings OSS legitamacy.
    • As noted elsewhere, there is just as much concern over wether a proprietary app company will 'be around' (eg not gone out of business). At least with F/OSS, you have the source, and can contract seperately for support, whereas with a proprietary 'product' if the vendor goes belly-up, you are SOL.
  • by epine (68316) on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:24AM (#12133515)

    This is the same view of Fortune 500 Enterprise that Toronto has of its role within Canada. Whether the other nine provinces have ceased to exist depends on who you ask.

  • He hasn't stated anything special to opensource products that are different than buying commercially licensed products.

    That means that at some point in the future the market will consolidate and a number of these products will disappear. This may not matter too much if the products are not that important to you, but it certainly does if they are strategic.

    You have to consider the above no matter what product you choose whether its opensource or not. If I have 5 products i'm evaluating and one of the co

    • Yes, and if you make a point of sticking with F/OSS, even if the 'company' goes away, you still have the source, and can either support it in-house, or contract seperately for support.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:40AM (#12133664) Homepage
    Sorry but until the author of the article actually does something with FOSS in the corperate world and knows how it really works he's simply another idiot spewing worthless drivel on the street corner at cars passing by.

    we hafe a few ATL tape library units here at the datacenter. upgrading PAST windows NT4 means we have to pull those units and throw them away. ATL refuses to release drivers for them for 2K or 2K3 and suggest "buy our new product".

    great, over $180,000.00US investment in WORKING SDLT robotic tape libraries because the company wants to drive revinue by forcing new hardware purchases. yet Linux and a couple of other FOSS packages saved that and they are now working along happily in our datacenter.

    So all that development we did to support the tape library robitic units was a waste? Programmer time is dirt fricking cheap right now compared to enterprise level hardware costs. we built the platform on FOSS parts, those were free to us, so why do we needto be greedy assholes and not give out what we coded that was BUILT UPON the work already done by others?

    I reccomend that everyone ignore the article as a know nothing screaming about things he read in a trade magazine.... because it is missing huge pieces of the puzzle that many many of us use every single day to save money and INCREASE revinue of the company.
  • DB or DBMS? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by buckhead_buddy (186384) on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:50AM (#12133767)
    When I used to work for a database design company, we'd have the argument that "the person who confuses a database with a database management system" is obviously too ignorant of his trade to trust with your precious data. I note that this author confuses those terms in his article.

    But putting aside that snippy, meaningless sales argument for a moment, we usually didn't care whether the client chose Open Source or Closed Source database tech (as long as we had someone on staff familiar with it). Our thought was that if we weren't paying for the tools we didn't care which system was chosen. We started to care after a custom van shop in Arizona wanted to use an all Microsoft platform (out of fear we'd abandon them and they wouldn't know what to do with this open source stuff). Being a startup though, they ran themselves in the ground and naturally our fees weren't paid due to the heavy fees they owed to Microsoft. After that, we'd push Open Source a little more if there was any sort of financial question about the company.

    But the fact that we weren't a huge company did scare many clients. They were much more comfortable knowing that their cousin could fix something in Microsoft Access if we disappeared from the face of the earth, but they wouldn't have any idea what to do with a PostgreSQL data repository. This usually meant that either we'd use their preferred closed source tools or we'd create some extra tools for them for free to dump the repository to csv and tab separated formats.

    Inevitably someone would ask me, personally, which dbms I thought was a better investment. I always loathed that question (since I was a programmer and not a salesman). But it usually came down to which programming environment I preferred and which environment I thought the salesperson had recommended. But looking back on it, if you were hiring our team to design the database that's where most of your expense would be. If you wanted to pay additional money to Microsoft for the database that was fine, but it wasn't going to reduce our costs any.

  • by blackhedd (412389) on Monday April 04, 2005 @10:51AM (#12133770)
    I recently chaired a panel discussion on enterprise open-source, attended by representatives from several dozen Fortune 500 companies, and we turned the discussion back on them at one point. Turns out that:
    1) all had made a "commitment" to open-source products;
    2) almost none had done anything strategic up to that point (they all had a little Linux and a little Apache/MySQL floating around here and there, of course)
    3) NONE were interested in the cost-reductions available with F/OSS
    4) ALL were interested in the advanced technology which they felt was probably more available from F/OSS then from incumbent vendors
    5) ALL were holding back waiting for better support options.
    There was a lot of discussion about the latter point, including some really fascinating suggestions that belong in another discussion. But for here and now, the key thing is that you don't necessarily look for support for OSS DBMSs from the developers. Something like the Pervasive model is interesting, as long as they continue to maintain close ties with the developer communities. But OSS support is a service business, with linear cost-scaling characteristics, so we will need a lot of vendors to pitch in. I think it's a nascent large opportunity.
  • Read this for what it is: the wishful thinking of a soon-to-be unemployed industry pundit. He wishes that CA and IBM would take over the open source database market, because they have the marketing dollars to feed companies like his (the Bloor Group - an IT consulting firm).

    Unfortunately for him, the new open source companies don't need to be behemoths, because they don't require the huge sales and marketing overhead of traditional companies. MySQL and PostgreSQL don't need to pay consultants and market
  • Not all of the companies involved will be able to make enough money out of these products to stay in business. That means that at some point in the future the market will consolidate and a number of these products will disappear.

    Complete bullshit. The companies will disappear, but the product will live on in sourceforge (or where ever), exactly oppositite of what this inexperienced author says. Every customer of the product will have a copy of the source, which at least allows them the option of continui
  • First, this article was very unclear, I see several different opinions already on what the author really meant. This is just another opinion.

    My take is that the author is really talking about consolidation of many major open source projects into a few and that this consolidation is going to be driven by large corporations. I see some reason in this. Many OS projects have conflict at some level. You can't gracefully merge postgres and MySQL or Gnome and KDE. At some point, business is collectively going wi


  • We don't actually mind if some conservative opinion leaders fail to see the power of open source databases.

    Our intent is to demonstrate to the world (and ourselves) that open source can indeed produce databases that become strategic for enterprise customers. We are also here to show that open source can produce profitable, healthy businesses. It's a crusade, and there will always be sceptics when you do something new.

    Marten Mickos, CEO, MySQL AB
  • by SpecBear (769433) on Monday April 04, 2005 @12:15PM (#12134538)
    Whenever I see an article criticising open source software, I do a quick check to see if the author has his head up his ass:

    Step 1: Replace the phrase "open source" with "closed source."

    Step 2: Replace names of open source products with the names of their closed-source counterparts.

    Check if the article's arguments and criticisms still apply. If so, the author hasn't written a critique of open source software, he's written a critique of software, and probably not a terribly insightful one at that.
    • Unfortunately, you should have read the article closer. You are making his point. I think he's wrong, but you are restating his point (in fact, you have the most consice summary of his article I've seen). He's saying Open Source acts just like Closed Source when it comes time to making a strategic enterprise software decision. His point appears to be that just because it's open source doesn't free you from having to make a good strategic decision, because X years from now the people behind the software m
  • by cliffiecee (136220) on Monday April 04, 2005 @12:21PM (#12134598) Homepage Journal
    The article brings to my mind an interesting scenario...

    You're a developer of an OSS project, along with several others (geographically diverse). You get a call one day...

    "Hi, This is Clueful Manager from MegaCorp. We'd like to use your software in our business."

    You say "Sure, go ahead; it's open source. Of course it'd be nice if you'd donate to our project..."

    CM says "Yes, that's why I'm calling. We'd like some extra functionality added, and we're willing to pay you to add it. What do you say?" ... great! Until you realize that your OSS program is now the cornerstone of a BUSINESS. *YOUR* business. How will money be divided? Taxes taken out? Accounting? (Now we rue the lack of financial packages for Linux!)

    Maybe MegaCorp will hire you; but then you're their employee, subject to their restrictions.

    Maybe they hire you as a contractor; but then what about the other devels? Are they out of luck just because it's your email that's in the README?

    Maybe MegaCorp's expecting to treat you like a vendor. In which case you'd need to supply invoices, bills, tax info, and all the other things a 'real' business would supply.

    WARNING TO OSS DEVELOPERS: Success is coming! You need to think about what you're going to leverage the success of your software. Do you want a profit? Or just enough to pay the bills? Do the other devels agree with you? Or, do you ignore all such requests, unless they interest you as interesting challenges?
  • by sulli (195030) * on Monday April 04, 2005 @12:27PM (#12134652) Journal
    But it feels so right.

    (Na na na na na na na na na na)

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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