Saturday, March 31, 2007

Then they fight you. Then you win.

Mohandas Gandhi's quote actually goes: "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win."

This quote has been a rallying cry for many years at Red Hat, and is oh-so-appropriate given the shenanigans going on in the software market these days. Let's focus on two major proprietary software vendors shall we? In order to protect their identities, I will simply refer to them here as....Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Thing 1 says he will just take our technology and make it his own. He reasons that this will help him deliver more value to his customers. Hello!! The BIG COSTS for customers are in the layers on top. I suggest you read my Building A Great Open Source Architecture blog for an illustration of the technology areas I refer to and how open source is poised to deliver more value in those areas.

Now...let's talk about Thing 2. They offer an entry level product that is "based on open source" as an onramp to their complex, proprietary, and expensive stack of products that they are really focused on selling. And in the process....get this...this is the best part...they claim they are actually more open source than we are. Now THAT is great marketing folks! They have a tiny sliver of their stack "based on open source" and that makes them more open source than JBoss. Read my blog on Open Source Community for my thoughts on that topic.

Anyhow, the interesting news is that Thing 2 is spending time building and marketing what I call a bridge to the past. They have built some tools that help people move away from our innovative and fully featured open source platform for SOA to their low-end "children's edition" onramp. The problem is that their onramp only provides a thin sliver of the functionality that people need for their SOA darn....I guess that means people will just need to buy the other complex proprietary stuff in their portfolio...for real license $$'s. This "bridge to the past" will truly be the gift that keeps giving....only their customers are not the ones receiving the gift, if you know what I mean.

So why are Thing 1 and Thing 2 fighting us so vigorously?
Because they are not happy that we are successfully building out a complete open source platform for SOA that not only encompasses the Operating System and Application Server...but also covers the market areas of Portal, BPM, and Integration among others.

They see our big picture. They see our great technology and services. And they will do whatever it takes to preserve the lock-in and huge license fees provided by their big proprietary stacks.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 are more focused on trying to slow us down, rather than on delivering increased value to their customers. And I believe customers and the market in general are smart enough to see that.

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