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Engaging with the OSS Community 83

Posted by michael
from the diamond-ring-not-required dept.
s390 writes "Olliance has the second of its Open Source articles up at the Inquirer. It's called "Engaging with the Open Source Community (Part Two)", and it explains the different levels of involvement that companies can have with Open Source. More education for managers, and an outline of a corporate process for approaching adoption and deployment of Linux and other Open Source software."
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Engaging with the OSS Community

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  • by pytheron (443963) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @03:51PM (#6326237) Homepage
    Most of us would love to see Open Source widely adopted as a business strategy. The major barrier to this is that business adopts the path-of-least-resistance to profitability, and changing your current strategy for a largely untested and hence managerially mistrusted one is a brave move indeed. No amount of educating managers is going to change the fact that its better to wait and see others succeed (or fail) before you try yourself.
  • by pytheron (443963) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @04:12PM (#6326325) Homepage
    The point of "That's the way we have always done things" is that if it didn't work, then there would be no business left. Alot of people here will have worked on systems/software that are ancient in terms of computing technology, but they are still in production because they work. It's all about risk management, and it's less risky just to stay where you are and continue to make a profit with your current business model.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 29, 2003 @04:18PM (#6326362)
    I'd be more apt to listen to people from the OSS Community if they started bathing, shaving, and look less like dirty hippies and more like professionals.

    Oh, it's true, it's true.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 29, 2003 @04:26PM (#6326391)
    Is that a scientific experiment to see how much bullshit the general public will accept?

    What were they thinking when they wrote sentences such as "Engagement with an Open Source community is a continuum"? Whom were they trying to impress with this pseudo-scientific marketing fill-word collection?

    They go on and on about the various ways in which a company can contribute to the open source community, but completely fail to say why a company would want to do that in the first place! The first installment of this diatribe was even worse, containing some vague assertions like "open source software is more stable" or "open source software is much more secure" and didn't even begin to consider backing this drivel up with facts of any kind.

    Argh! Just read this little gem here: "This first decision is not a foregone conclusion, because different enterprises and IT organizations have differing objectives, resources, capabilities, enabling factors, and business constraints." Even pros like Accenture couldn't have packed less content and more hype fillwords into a single paragraph!

    But the best part is the "conclusion" where they simply assert "In this paper we've reviewed the definition and advantages of Open Source software". Uh, WTF?!

    Waaah, I want to puke when I read this crap! They actually have a headline called "High Level Process" and then proceed to talk about "milestones" and "enabling factors" and "identifying opportunities", it's like an ugly satire on KPMG, Accenture and all the other hype bubble spewers. It could be right out of one of these hollow Gartner Group reports, just blowing in a different hype horn.

    This is exactly the kind of lip service the open source community does not need. I say: stay with your SAP friends.

    On the other hand, maybe it's a good sign that the open source market is now big enough to attract their share of parasites.
  • by God! Awful 2 (631283) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @04:40PM (#6326453) Journal
    In Part 1 of the article, the authors like to point out how OSS turns the tragedy of the commons into the triumph of the commons. Then in Part 2, they tell you how to "engage" with the OSS community in order to get higher quality software. This article is never going to convince businesses to switch to open source because it never uses the magic words: this is how to make money fast.

    The "triumph of the commons" argument is a obvious example of how arguments by analogy can be used to support a ridiculous conclusion. OSS opponents deride the GPL because they say the tragedy of the commons will prevent anyone from making any money. The authors respond "No, it's the triumph of the commons because the result is high quality software." That's great, but you're still evading the real question.

    Show me the money!
    Show me the money!
    Show me the money!

    -a
  • by Pettifogger (651170) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @04:46PM (#6326482)
    As someone who deals with business stuff, this sort of heavy-handed corporatespeak really puts me off. It puts off others, too, but a lot of suits are reluctant to admit it.

    People usually use this kind of language to somehow "prove" that whatever they have is "serious" and "businesslike."

    Here's a better idea: Computers are so flippin' cheap these days. If you want to sell OSS services, get ahold of the IT manager, or even better, the CFO of the corporation and drop $200 to GIVE them a FREE box with FREE software on it. $200 is cheaper than most advertising, and I guarantee you that it would be booted, played with, kicked over to IT for awhile, and so on. If a CFO (or other high exec) sees that OSS genuinely works and how much money they can save... well, that's the kind of thing that will make a sale. Throwing a bunch of corporatespeak at people is well, what all the other corporations do. No one really pays attention to it, they only care about the bottom line. The effects have to be effectively demonstrated.

  • by TopShelf (92521) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @04:56PM (#6326517) Homepage Journal
    But what articles like this can provide is an opportunity to lay out the different areas of risk that need to be considered, and then address how each of these can be examined and dealt with properly. The biggest obstacle to OSS in the corporate arena is simple unfamiliarity more than anything. A manager who's thinking of making an OSS recommendation needs to have good information backing him up when he makes the pitch to his/her superiors...
  • by s390 (33540) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @05:34PM (#6326705) Homepage
    It doesn't help that OSS gained critical mass at the same time the tech economy collapsed...

    I disagree. I believe IT budget pressures in this economic retrenchment are of great help in motivating IT managers to look into OSS for cost savings, even if they don't 'get' the larger benefits of escaping vendor lock-in initially.

  • by God! Awful 2 (631283) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @05:52PM (#6326783) Journal
    I disagree. I believe IT budget pressures in this economic retrenchment are of great help in motivating IT managers to look into OSS for cost savings, even if they don't 'get' the larger benefits of escaping vendor lock-in initially.

    If it's just a matter of using Apache instead of MS for their web server, I think a lot of companies are already doing that. But the article also talks about funding OSS development or forming a vendor consortium to develop a common tool. This isn't likely to happen because the companies that pay for the cost of research have a vested interest in maintaining a high cost of entry into the market.

    -a
  • by CausticWindow (632215) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @06:12PM (#6326904)

    What's your issue with Fox?

    They're the only outlet not heavily influenced by whiny liberals.

  • by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @06:17PM (#6326942)
    What were they thinking when they wrote sentences such as "Engagement with an Open Source community is a continuum"? Whom were they trying to impress with this pseudo-scientific marketing fill-word collection?

    I see an objective and insightful article here. It's not clear to me what you are whining about, perhaps you are trying to appear cool by dissing it? Remember, it wasn't written for you, it's obviously aimed at managers.

    They go on and on about the various ways in which a company can contribute to the open source community, but completely fail to say why a company would want to do that in the first place!

    Luckily for you too, because now is your golden chance to write your own article. As far as this one goes, they apparently assume that the reader is already aware of the benefits and is now at the point of wondering how they can get aboard the train, i.e., "engage the community" in PHB-speak.

    The first installment of this diatribe was even worse, containing some vague assertions like "open source software is more stable" or "open source software is much more secure" and didn't even begin to consider backing this drivel up with facts of any kind.

    Heh, you are just a troll, have a nice day.
  • Re:Other ways (Score:4, Insightful)

    by droleary (47999) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @08:31PM (#6327562) Homepage

    We found an open source app that did nearly what we needed, so we contracted the developer to add features for us (into the main open source version).

    Honestly, this is the way for a business to "engage" the open source community. The article is puffery and completely neglects that software is made open precisely because it is something that is intended to be seen as a service industry and not a product industry. As an author, I would naturally appreciate code tweaks from others, but what I really would like is to be paid to work on the code, and that is especially true if a business is involved. That is, I'd be more appreciative if I were paid directly to update the code rather than the company paying someone else to work on my code and then submit it to me.

    I envision a system where this could be expanded, where end users would bid competitively on which features to be added or bugs to be fixed. I've seen some attempts at realizing this sort of system, but none have caught on in a big way.

    I've tried this at my company [subsume.com] under the name Serviceware [subsume.com]. It's not caught on or even been profitable, but it does seem like the best way for a company to approach open source and/or software as a service.

  • by mystran (545374) <mystran@gmail.com> on Monday June 30, 2003 @12:48AM (#6328570) Homepage
    How about comments within the source or the README that also tell you to RTFM ?

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