By webmink on Jan 22, 2006
I've had some interesting correspondence lately. It seems that in Dan Farber's blog about Sun and open source last week (connected with SDForum's event on the future of commercial open source), there are a couple of things that need adjustment. Firstly, he quotes me saying:
"If you believe in an open source business model, you are mistaken. Open source is tactic within a business model"
One correspondent took me to task, asking why I didn't believe in open source. That's the problem with reported speech; the rest of the context gets lost. Dan had a good try at conveying the context in his following paragraph (it looked fine to me), but what's perhaps lost is that the event had as its audience a group of people who all totally understand what "open source business model" might mean - a point neglected in The Register's coverage too. Facing me in the crowd at the SD Forum event were Ward Cunningham, Stephe Walli, Matt Asay and who knows who else. They did not need lots of detailed and/or politically correct preamble.
At that point in the conversation, the question was not "can a business get to use open source effectively" - everyone present already knew the answer to that. It was "is open source itself the sole distinguishing feature of a business". In that context, my answer was that a business has many different aspects to it and within that larger scheme of things the open source element is clearly one of a number of tactics for almost every business that uses it.
"Tactic" there is not derogatory. There's no single "open source business model" - rather, an array of options for including open source software as an element (a "tactic") in a business model. Maybe every such model then becomes an "open source business model"? I'll write more about this subject soon.
OpenSolaris for PowerPC
The other thing Dan picked up was my comments about how open source allows an ecosystem to build around a "long tail" of some kind - in this case for a Unix operating system - expanding the opportunity for everyone in the ecosystem without the need for any particular company to be "in control" - Sun certainly is not orchestrating the various elements of the OpenSolaris ecosystem, for example. Dan asked for me to identify some other companies in the OpenSolaris ecosystem as he thought it was all about Sun. I mentioned Nexenta and Genesi - both working independently from Sun - and Dan wrote about them briefly.
Unfortunately, he was a bit concise in his mention of Genesi and I have had correspondence asking me to point out that while Genesi are a sponsor of the effort, the community at Blastwave that's working on Polaris is a grass-roots effort. There's plenty of grass-roots work going on in OpenSolaris, like Polaris and the Nexenta port of Ubuntu, and folk who think it's "all Sun" are really missing a lot of the goodness out there.