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Oracle Wants Proof That Open Source Is Profitable 393

Posted by Soulskill
from the show-me-the-money dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Since Oracle's acquisition of Sun, all open source projects that now have Oracle as their primary sponsor are worried about their future, and FUD is spreading quickly. Very few public statements have been made by Oracle executives, particularly regarding OpenSolaris. The community is arguing about the difficulties of forking the code base when most (if not all) of the developers are employed by Oracle. Now Oracle wants the community to prove that open source can be made profitable. What arguments can the Slashdot crowd provide to convince Oracle about that?" Reader greg1104 tips related news about licenses for Solaris. According to an account manager, "Solaris support now comes through a contract on the hardware (Oracle SUN hardware)."
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Oracle Wants Proof That Open Source Is Profitable

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  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:44PM (#31875996)
    Based on Sun's financial demise I'm sure that Oracle is already aware that closed source software isn't always profitable either.
    • by spazdor (902907) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:57PM (#31876184)

      Really, the time to deliberate about whether open source projects can be profitable, is before you buy out a bunch of open source projects.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:14PM (#31876424)

        Unless you're not really buying them for the open source projects... Oracle got the open source projects as an aside and now they're trying to figure out what they're going to do with them.

      • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

        Unless you get all those open source projects for free with the thing you are really interested in buying. Then, it is just a matter of deciding if you want to keep those projects going, which is a matter of whether there is any profit in doing so.

    • by krelian (525362) on Friday April 16, 2010 @05:04PM (#31877240)

      Based on Sun's financial demise I'm sure that Oracle is already aware that closed source software isn't always profitable either

      I remind you that Sun open sourced almost their entire software portfolio.

    • by farble1670 (803356) on Friday April 16, 2010 @06:02PM (#31877854)

      around 5 years before their demise, sun mandated that all* their software would be open source. they were almost there at the time of their demise. sun software was the last thing you would call closed source. as much as it hurts, sun was open source in a way unparalleled in the industry. it didn't work.

      *there are of course exceptions

  • IBM (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `todhsals+nysyaj'> on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:44PM (#31876018) Homepage Journal

    IBM & Red Hat are profitable, right?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      IBM does mostly closed source. I think the best we can say is "sometimes open source can be profitable". Even that may really be a bit charitable though. It is probably more like, "every once in awhile, with the right business model (which is extremely difficult to achieve), open source has a chance of being profitable.". All the closed source vs. open source bigots (on either side) really need to come to grips with the fact that yes, sometimes open source can be profitable and no, it isn't all the time or
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by alexborges (313924)

        I think you are thinking about software in general. Not all software is profitable. Actually, most isnt. And the state of its license and source has little to do with that.

        Marketing, actually solving a problem important enough for enough people, thats what brings in profitability. Its the same for any market...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LoRdTAW (99712)

        Open source can be very beneficial for companies that also provide closed source. For Oracle, Open Solaris benefited Sun by exposing a larger audience to Solaris. If Open Solaris was never released I would have never had a chance to use it at home. And the more exposure an OS has the better chance it has to be improved upon and attract developers to the platform. A completely closed OS that is only sold with vendor hardware creates a very costly investment and steep IT requirements. It also prevents budding

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by timmarhy (659436)
          your is about the only insightful comment yet.

          ive been involved in oracle's style of management before, where they say they are about the money, yet when you present them with a money making scenario that goes against their ideals they simply ignore it.

          If i was oracle and i bought out sun, i'd put maybe 10 software engineers on open solaris, adding features and drumming up community support. it'd cost them maybe 1 mil a year to run, fucking chump change.

          THEN, i pour cash into beefing up the hardware, mar

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, open source software is very profitable for IBM to get you in the door so they can get you to upgrade to their closed-source systems later on

      • Re:IBM (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mweather (1089505) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:21PM (#31876558)

        Yes, open source software is very profitable for IBM to get you in the door so they can get you to upgrade to their closed-source systems later on

        It's a strategy that makes open source profitable. Either you sell support, or you sell a value added proprietary version.

    • Not from FOSS (Score:5, Informative)

      by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:57PM (#31876186)
      IBM sells many different services and hardware which the FOSS operations augment. That wasn't the case with OpenSolaris.

      RedHat, is a Linux corporate support company that was the first and so far as I know the only company that's making money doing that. Although, almost half of RedHat's income is from financial activities [wordpress.com]. In other words, they're not making all their money from FOSS.

      So, there hasn't been a business model based upon FOSS that's really been proven - completely.

      Yeah, yeah, yeah, FUD blah blah blah. But just brushing off criticisms as FUD doesn't cut it to the accountants, I'm afraid.

      • Re:Not from FOSS (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheSunborn (68004) <[kd.ua.imiad] [ta] [rellit]> on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:02PM (#31876258)

        But both those examples show what the open source business model is. Support other peoples open source software and use it to sell complete solutions to your customers.

        I mean less then 1% of the source code that Redhat supports and use are written by people paid by Redhat.

        The problem for Oracle here is that they can't do the same with Solaris, because they write most of the code themself, and if they don't write it, nobody else will.

        • Re:Not from FOSS (Score:4, Interesting)

          by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:21PM (#31876556) Journal

          Let's face it, OpenSolaris was a Johnny-come-lately in the open source OS field. Yes, it had some neat features, but it's hardware support is abysmal compared to Linux and the BSDs. For Oracle, to my mind, it would make better sense to support what's there rather than continuing Sun's experiment.

          To my mind the future is looking dark for Sun's open source projects. I suppose MySQL will survive as a low-end RDBMS solution to market along side Oracle's other solutions, but stuff like VirtualBox may have an iffier future. Maybe the FOSS community can keep it going, or maybe what's useful and transferable will end up in KVM. Who knows...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by aztektum (170569)

        RedHat, is ... the only company that's making money doing that.

        Not entirely true. There are small consultancies I have dealt with that only deal with OSS which are doing wonderfully. Even in this crappy economy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by QuantumRiff (120817)

      Not only that, but Oracle makes money selling a clone of Redhat to its customers as part of its total support package. You can run your Oracle DB on an Oracle Unbreakable Linux box.
      http://www.oracle.com/us/technologies/linux/index.html [oracle.com]

  • Seriously? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:45PM (#31876032) Journal

    Redhat does pretty good for itself, doesn't it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mrjatsun (543322)

      Sure, good for itself, but RHAT is in a much different league.
              RedHat's total revenue for the last quarter was $194.3 million
              Oracle's total revenue for the last quarter was $6.5 billion.

      Before being bought by Oracle, Sun's S/W business did better than Red Hat..
      I was just lost in the noise since H/W is such a big component of revenue.

  • by greed (112493) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:46PM (#31876046)

    I'm curious as to why a company would spend a lot of money making something that other people will give away for free.

    It had better be really special.

    My experience in software houses over the last 20 years suggests that they are opposed to letting customers see their source code because then customers will know, beyond any doubt, that they have been thoroughly fleeced. If the vendor delivers binaries only, at least there's still the possibility that the code is good quality, cleverly engineered, or whatever they're convincing people to pay for.

    • by garyisabusyguy (732330) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:00PM (#31876244)

      Honestly, I do not know what passes for 'knowledge about Oracle', but your comments seem pretty naive.

      In the Oracle applications stack, about 90% of code (stored procedures, triggers, table structures etc...) are plainly visible on an installed application stack. The rest (Java runtimes) can be decompiled with readily available tools. Plus, if you have a current support contract, almost everything (technical reference manual, support notes, bug reports, white papers, check lists, etc...)is available on Metalink.

      My point is that Oracle has been behaving _mostly_ as an open source company (Ok database executables are a different story) for quite a long time.

      The hard part is putting it all together. I have been up to my elbows in this (as a developer) for 15 years, and I only really grok about 15% (prolly less) of the apps.

      This is where the Oracle Service and Support revenue model comes in.

      Trust me, they get OSS, they are just trying to figure out how to wring more out of the business model.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Locke2005 (849178)
      I'm curious as to why a company would spend a lot of money making something that other people will give away for free. IBM had a traditional business model that involved giving the OS away for free to leverage hardware sales, and did quite well with it. IBM supports Linux because it can still be used to leverage hardware sales, but the support costs are much less -- all they really need to do is support the drivers specific to their own hardware. Sun and Apple also used software to leverage hardware sales.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Red Flayer (890720)

        IBM had a traditional business model that involved giving the OS away for free to leverage hardware sales, and did quite well with it. IBM supports Linux because it can still be used to leverage hardware sales, but the support costs are much less -- all they really need to do is support the drivers specific to their own hardware. Sun and Apple also used software to leverage hardware sales.

        Woah, dude... it's 2010. That business model has been on the outs for more than a decade.

        IBM's revenue is now domin

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)

          Oracle is looking to supply the whole stack to its customers

          And this really ought to be the answer to the original question. If Solaris remains open, then other people will spend time finding and fixing bugs. Maybe not many, but some. They may also contribute things like drivers for hardware that Oracle wants to support in future. This lowers the total cost to Oracle of developing OpenSolaris.

          They really should take a look at Apple's business model. Apple sells a complete stack, but they open source anything that they don't consider to be part of their core

    • If the vendor delivers binaries only, at least there's still the possibility that the code is good quality, cleverly engineered, or whatever they're convincing people to pay for.

      It's the hot dog perspective. If it tastes good, you don't need to know what's in it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zx75 (304335)

      Umm, if I am a customer buying a software product I do not care if the code is good quality, or cleverly engineered, as long as it doesn't impact the cost, security, or usability of the product.

      All I care about is whether or not it works and meets my needs.

      I am saying this as a consumer (end user), producer (developer), and requirements creator (analyst).

      • Poor-quality code is less likely to work and meet your needs when the quality affects the cost and the reliability of the product. If the code is inefficient, you need to buy more hardware and more copies of the product. If the code has significant defects, the defects could compromise availability, consistency, and durability of the data that the product maintains.
    • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

      I'm curious as to why a company would spend a lot of money making something that other people will give away for free.

      That is what Oracle is apparently asking.

    • by bws111 (1216812)
      Businesses do not buy software because it is 'cleverly engineered' or 'good quality'. They buy software because it saves them more money than it costs. So a word processor that costs a few hundred bucks but everyone they hire knows how to use may be better choice than a word processor that is free but has associated training costs or lost productivity.
  • No. its YOUR job. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:49PM (#31876082) Homepage Journal

    no exaggeration and no offense here. we are the community. users, developers, evangelists etc and so on. we just make a software/framework live by developing, adding to it, supporting and using it, or we leave it and it dies.

    its not our job to make it profitable for you or teach you. you are the private company that seeks to profit. its your job to find ways to profit from it without offending us. think of us as 'the people', the public.

    if you upset us, we will fork something and get behind it and it will take off.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by InlawBiker (1124825)

      Oracle is free to conclude that closed-source software makes them way more money. So they shouldn't be surprised in "X" years when open-source databases that are just as good as Oracle are available for free. I think they call this "being SCO'd." How many more companies will hamstring themselves by not looking more than 2 or 3 quarters into the future?

    • by clarkkent09 (1104833) * on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:59PM (#31876220)
      Oracle wasn't asking slashdot for advice on how to make open source profitable. It was asking the developers whose salary it pays to convince Oracle that that salary is worth paying. It is perfectly normal for a company to require the management of unprofitable product lines to provide a plan on making their products profitable in the future.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DrgnDancer (137700)

      The problem with this statement being: Oracle doesn't care. They are asking the "community" to prove that the software can be profitable, because it's in the "community's" interest for Oracle not to abandon the software. Open Solaris is likely to simply disappear without Oracle's support. A good portion of it's developers work for the company. I don't know what the numbers are, but most estimates seem to hover around "almost all of them". It could be forked, sure. Assuming you can find enough strong d

  • Dear Oracle (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Thermick (1791784)

    Don't fuck up where IBM is making money.

    Sincerely,
    Open Source

    • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

      What is IBM making money on, the open source software or the hardware it runs on and supporting same?

      • Re:Dear Oracle (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Tanktalus (794810) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:34PM (#31876780) Journal

        What is IBM making money on, the open source software or the hardware it runs on and supporting same?

        Yes.

        IBM makes money by selling the hardware that runs your open source software.

        IBM makes money by deploying the hardware, and the open source software.

        IBM makes money by upselling the open source software with proprietary versions (Apache -> Websphere, Jazz -> Rational Team Concert, ...)

        IBM makes money by selling entirely new applications based on open source frameworks (nearly anything based on Eclipse).

        Oracle can sell their new hardware to run OSS. They can sell services to help deploy said hardware and OSS. They can sell their own versions of apps to complement OSS. They can use OSS to complement their proprietary apps (e.g., getting wikimedia to run on Oracle, though that might be a bad idea, I'm giving it as an example of the concept). Seriously, can't they just look at their competition to see what they're doing?

  • by Stumbles (602007) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:50PM (#31876100)
    They only need to look towards Red Hat. If Oracle cannot figure it out, then they need to close their doors. It is not the open source arenas responsibility to make Oracle profitable. Now if Oracle wants to hire me at oh, I dunno $500,000 a year plus perks, then I will teach them, till then they have done nothing but issue a threat.
  • I believe open source is a good model for software. I'd much rather buy software and services from someone who believes the same.
    • by cdrguru (88047)

      Well, part of the problem is you certainly wouldn't be "buying" software when open source is available.

      Then
      there is the question of services. What percentage of Linux installations where a Red Hat-derived distribution is used and paying Red Hat for support? I'd guess 0.0001% or thereabouts. The question is would it be better to have 10% of the customers but all of them paying? Red Hat seems to think that providing free software is somehow more rewarding than getting paid. Lots of other companies do not

  • Grandstanding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by watanabe (27967) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:52PM (#31876132)

    Larry knows exactly how to make money; he is probably the world's best businessman at holding you upside-down and shaking you vigorously until your pockets empty.

    I would be stunned if Oracle ever comes out with a credible OpenSolaris strategy -- it's not Oracle's way, nor is it in their best interests to have a vibrant opensolaris community. Unlike Linux, the best parts of Solaris have never come from outside Sun. Dtrace, ZFS, integrated hardware, all this stuff is where Sun's real value lay.

    The end game for OpenSolaris began when Sun moved ahead with the merger. From then until the official end is just drama, positioning, etc.

  • Services (Score:5, Informative)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:54PM (#31876146) Homepage Journal
    Open source by itself is not profitable. But services around it surely are.
    • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

      Then, why should a for-profit company support open source if open source is not profitable. A better strategy would be to provide the services you mention, assuming said services are, in fact, profitable and the ROI is worth it.

    • by Weasel Boy (13855)

      Or maybe the hardware you install it on will be. If you don't have to shell out $Millions for the firmware OS, you can pass some savings on to your customer and still make a buck.

  • by macbeth66 (204889) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:54PM (#31876148)

    I don't have to pay for it...

    • by QJimbo (779370)

      Exactly, as cheezy as it sounds, especially in the context of software, the world does indeed profit from open source.

      If every company contributed something alongside their larger business model, we'd live in a much nicer world. Oracle needs to open it's eyes to the bigger picture in my opinion instead of demanding that Open Source explain itself.

    • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

      Oracle would have to pay for it in the form of developers, etc. That it would be profitable for you is irrelevant to Oracle because it, like you, cares most about its profit.

  • by chance2105 (678081) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:54PM (#31876156)
    From earlier in the conversation: http://mail.opensolaris.org/pipermail/ogb-discuss/2010-April/007700.html [opensolaris.org]

    "(The following message is wholly my own, and doesn't represent anything from Oracle. While I'm an Oracle employee, I have no special privileged information or insight beyond what is already common knowledge.)"

    This could be a random guy stirring the pot. What do we have to actually think management might ditch opensolaris?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:59PM (#31876224)

    Ok, so I'm the author of that message that is quoted in the article. And while an employee, I was *not* speaking for Oracle. I didn't use an Oracle e-mail account, or a Sun account for that matter.

    I am not authorized to speak for Oracle. So please make sure attributions are correct.

    Also, most of the posters here are confused due to lack of sufficient context. I was talking about Open Development (where anyone can integrate changes and participate in design, etc.) -- not Open Source. Open Source is clearly a win for everyone involved, I think. I'm personally less convinced that Open Development is a win for Open Solaris. There are lots of people using it, but almost nobody contributing, and the contributions are expensive to support.

    Oh yeah, and in case anyone thinks I don't know what I'm talking about -- have a look at https://www.ohloh.net/p/opensolaris/contributors -- that would be my name at the top of list. And yes, I integrate changes for other people in the community as well, but those numbers are mostly not part of the ohloh statistics.

  • Oracle supports Linux - RHEL and Oracle Enterprise Linux (OEL) are more or less the same, with the support contracts run through Oracle rather than the Red Hat folks. Works nice when the OS and the application are one company - eliminates finger pointing. The support for Linux is very strong and from what I understand, they are all in (much like IBM is).

    I don't understand why Oracle would want to make that same sort of commitment to another OOS operating system, especially one that has such a little footp

  • Larry, Larry (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WindowlessView (703773) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:01PM (#31876256)
    ...just think of it as the America's Cup of software. It's about the competition and the pride...
    • just think of it as the America's Cup of software

      When Ellison was in New Zealand competing for the America's Cup several years ago, he so endeared himself to the Kiwis with his arrogant, abrasive personality, that the locals quipped that "Oracle" stood for "One Rich Asshole Called Larry Ellison". Classic!

  • I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that there are just about zero people on Slashdot who are able to and will freely outline for major corporations how to create a profitable business model.
    • by idontgno (624372)

      There are dozens of people who can outline a supremely profitable business model for Oracle or anyone else who asks.

      1. Maintain open-source software
      2. ???
      3. PROFIT!

  • It reads a little bit like: Prove that i will make profit while the parameters discussed make up only a samall percentage of the business.

    The best argument i can bring forward: I bet my own money on Sun/Oracle doing so. We've just invested about 100.000 Euros into a software that requires OpenSolaris. If Sun/Oracle doesn't prosper, OpenSolaris will get axed and my own efforts & money will not pay off. I require Sun/Oracle to succeed. We're producing an appliance based on OpenSolaris and Sun Hardware. To

  • If they can't figure that out themselves, they are in the wrong business.

  • by FudRucker (866063) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:08PM (#31876346)
    the OS that runs the app is somewhat important in that it needs to be secure and stable, but it is the application on top of the OS that sells, if Oracle can sell a complete solution - in this case a Linux distro with Oracle's database software on top and include service & support, maybe even include remote administration by authorized Oracle IT staff if that sells the product. (i knew SSH would come in handy someday)
  • ...who basically use the code written for free by gullible kids. Yes, Red Hat is profitable. Feel free to name two other companies that make significant money on Open Source.

    Out of the hundreds of companies I've been in contact with over the last decade, I know of one, small struggling company of 5 or so guys that makes it, barely, by configuring Plone (and excellent product, by the way). His wife runs a restaurant on the side. Some months she's more profitable than he is.

  • Enabler (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:14PM (#31876422)

    Open Source software is profitable in much the same way owning a parking lot for your business is profitable. It enables you to do business more cheaply and flexibly than the other options.

    Open source software works great when it is not your core competency. For example, if you make hardware appliances, Linux is a great, free commodity OS you can use. Hiring some people to develop it, customize it, and fix bugs in it is much, much cheaper than writing an OS from scratch or licensing one. If you sell computing services, OSS is a great resource because it enables you to deliver those resources more cheaply and if you combine either of the two previous markets with custom hardware or software you do develop and which is your core competency, you can undercut pretty much every other business model.

    I don't even know why I'm repeating this here. Literally hundreds of companies (I've worked for four myself) rely heavily on OSS development to make money and have been doing so for decades now. If the brilliant business minds at Oracle can't wrap their heads around this problem then they have bigger concerns than what to do with Sun's OSS assets... like how to fire all the idiots who somehow graduated from business school.

    OSS is great way to cut your own costs by getting others to do work for you for free and make money in other markets.

    So unless you can figure out how having OpenSolaris running on millions of devices everywhere ultimately translates to revenue, I doubt Oracle mgmt will be impressed.

    Umm, does Oracle use OpenSolaris themselves for their workstations and servers both internally and for sale? If so, then having OpenSolaris on millions of devices means you get free bug reports and fixes for your OS from some subset of those millions of people. That's free labor.

    If you don't monetize something somewhere, then it doesn't really help if OpenSolaris is used everywhere. In fact, it hurts. Because you spend more time supporting and debugging things that are not necessarily supportive of your own priorities, and are not generating revenue.

    Wait you're spending time fixing bugs you don't care about and supporting the OS for free? Why? Why not just fix the bugs you do care about or which people are willing to pay you to fix and let other people handle the rest of the bugs if it bothers them? That's how Linux works, why not OpenSolaris?

    Show us a plan for how that will ultimately generate revenue for Oracle?

    Umm, you don't have to pay software licensing costs, you get bug reporting and work on the project from others for free, you can charge people support fees if they want you to do any work on it, if they don't want support it costs you nothing. How is this not a win? And what is your alternative? Pay Microsoft licensing fees? Drop OpenSolaris and switch to Linux then spend you money trying to port the features you need from OpenSolaris to Linux? Close source OpenSolaris and try to get people to pay you when they can just use Linux instead (or Windows or OS X)? Those are the three options I see and I'm sure your guys will do a thorough cost benefit on them all because they're not morons... right?

  • They're a business. It's up to them to figure out how to make money or otherwise benefit from a widget, whether it's FOSS or anything else. I hope they're clever enough to figure it out, you'd think they would've had an inkling of how to take advantage of those projects before acquiring Sun.
  • refocus (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:16PM (#31876466) Homepage

    I just had the experience of starting up my recently upgraded copy of openoffice on my linux box and seeing an oracle logo in the startup window. Feels kind of strange, like having your mom's underwear mixed in with your girlfriend's in the laundry basket.

    I realize that TFA is about OpenSolaris, but when it comes to mysql and openoffice, it's always seemed to me that the only real reason those projects received so much attention over the last decade was that they got there first-est with the most-est. It's not like mysql is the only OSS database on the market, or the best technically. When it comes to openoffice, I'm getting kind of tired of having to apologize for it. It just isn't a very good office suite in terms of usability, quality, or features. And it's an infamously unhealthy OSS project in terms of the ugliness of the codebase and the lack of success in working with developers outside Sun/Oracle.

    So maybe it's a good thing that Oracle bought Sun, because it will allow the OSS community to step back and reassess their focus. Competition is good. It's not healthy that the OSS world has drifted into a near-monoculture of mysql and openoffice.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by IANAAC (692242)

      When it comes to openoffice, I'm getting kind of tired of having to apologize for it. It just isn't a very good office suite in terms of usability, quality, or features.

      Well, outside of OpenOffice, there really isn't anything else that can remotely compare. There's Lotus Symphony, but if you're complaining about OpenOffice not being a very good suite, you won't like Symphony either. As a matter of fact, the next version of Symphony being developed is based on - you guess it - OpenOffice's code base.

  • Do all of you really think this is an official communique from Oracle regarding their policy with Open Source? This looks more like speculative hashing-outs that usually can be found on mailing lists, especially in a 'discuss' list, like this one. I sincerely doubt this mailing is more than one person's opinion.

  • by fusiongyro (55524) <faxfreemosquito@@@yahoo...com> on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:19PM (#31876520) Homepage

    The problem here isn't that open source isn't profitable, it's that it isn't Oracle profitable. Oracle is the essential part of the problem here, and to answer directly is to miss the point.

    We solve this not by huffing and wheezing about how great open source software is. We solve it by proving that we don't need closed source software, that giants like Oracle are unnecessary and useless. We solve it by using PostgreSQL and MySQL, by using Linux (and maybe Open Solaris). We solve it by publicly mocking anyone who spent the money on Oracle, finding security holes in Oracle, and generally making it unpleasant to be an Oracle customer, which won't be hard because of the great head start Oracle has on that.

    We don't have to justify our existence or our way of doing business; they do. And they're doing a great job of pissing off their loyalists. IBM was once this proud. Look at them now. The same thing can happen here, we just have to refuse to put up with it.

  • by bl8n8r (649187) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:20PM (#31876528)

    I've seen the costs of Oracle's licensing. They don't want profit, they want a guaranteed user base - just like every other megacorp on the planet. The only way to guarantee a user base, even when you product is shi^H^H resource intensive, is to either distribute complementary kool-aid, or make sure the user base cannot switch to a competing product.

    Oracle does not want profit, they want profit with a guarantee.

    As far as opensolaris, mysql and the rest of Sun's opensource projects go, well that's just the way the cookie crumbles. When a corporate buyout happens, there are no guarantees about current products whether proprietary OR OSS. If a product doesn't fit a companie's vision they axe it.

  • After all, isn't that what they are really saying. "Prove that my plantation will be more profitable if I use hired labor, rather than slave labor". Well, maybe it will or won't be, but that completely ignores the relevant issue at hand. Sure, he wants to make a profit, but so does everyone and their mother.

    When one relies on a proprietary model instead of a free model, it is just another way of saying, "I assert the right to attack you if you copy things and it interferes with my goals". Maybe he won

    • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

      Actually, that is a horrible analogy. There are no slaves involved. In fact, it is a question of whether Oracle continues to pay "hired labor" to develop and maintain something that may not be generating any profit and may be actually losing money.

  • by jayveekay (735967) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:20PM (#31876540)

    “A proof is a proof. What kind of a proof? It's a proof. A proof is a proof. And when you have a good proof, it's because it's proven.”

    -Jean Chretien, Prime Minister of Canada

  • I actually was reminded of this when I went to grab the latest version of VirtualBox (closed source - i need the features that aren't in the OSE version), and noticed all the Sun logos were replaced with Oracle ones.

    Not worried about the open-source version since you can't really kill it, but since there's practically no revenue from it I guess it'll be next on the Oracle chopping block...

  • by kandresen (712861) on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:44PM (#31876930)

    1) Open Source is mainly a replacement of "built in house/customized software" than packaged software. You are approaching people who want full control rather than a generalized solution.
    2) By returning the changes to the community, they can ensure other improvements done can be implemented cheaply in the future.
    3) Other people and organizations may find that the new base is a start point for their organization too, and use it with or without modifications.

    These steps are valuable for consultants, companies who want control and save money, etc. However, when a project grows quickly or is of a kind that is critical many people would desire someone to ensure them that next time they upgrade their solution it does not cause problems, or can be quickly resolved by someone, or someone who are liable to fix the issues should they occur in their system, then it might go to a new level for the maintainers:

    4) The real money for a development company will not be there until sufficient amount of people or organizations want to pay for support.

    Face it - Open Source is about mass customization. It is also about making the common a commodity - do not expect to sell things that are common needs for everyone for a massive price forever (word-processors, base operating systems, etc), The money will only come from supporting these application when the base is big enough.

    Assuming you can sell your software to enough companies, you might not be interested in Open Sourcing it out - a large part of it all is weather you believe you will gain more on support by obtaining a larger number of users, or if you think the selling to and supporting less people bring more value.

  • by mikeabbott420 (744514) on Friday April 16, 2010 @05:09PM (#31877306) Journal
    MYSQL saves us a ton of money.
  • by kavehmz (755591) on Friday April 16, 2010 @07:25PM (#31878756)
    Last year when the Oracle's contract had not been finalized, we chose PostgreSQL over MySQL and this kinds of doubts that Oracle will be proper place for projects like MySQL was one of the reasons. It seems Oracle has indeed problem adapting the new approaches required for working on Free Software projects.
  • by s.petry (762400) on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:10PM (#31879478)

    This is a very hard argument for numerous companies, not just Oracle. If the answer was simple, then Linux on the desktop would be much more prevalent. Instead we see it hidden away in the Server rooms happily consuming Microsoft's market share.

    Profit models are always based on software sales with a percentage cap. As an example, a CAD support company will sell you AutoCad. They pay $400 US to Autodesk, and charge the customer $600 US. Sure, many companies offer support, but in the application space it's not easy to make money. How hard is it for a Windows power user to install a Windows application on their own? In reality, it's not difficult so most companies have minimum installation support. They can count on each year receiving a check for the latest version of AutoCad. Even if the company pays for installation service one year, there is no assurance that the customer will pay again for the services.

    Some companies have "Managed Service Models", where you don't have to pay the 600 bucks for AutoCad. Instead you lease the seat with support for a fixed rate. This is closer to where you want to go since it covers both guaranteed software sales, and guaranteed support staff payments. Even still, these are pretty limited since most companies can not see much benefit in paying a company a large monthly rate for something one of their power users can handle. You also run into numerous issues where power users convince the people they work for (and rightly so) that it's a waste of money to use the managed service model. This could increase their pay, and add stability to their job (pretty important in this economy).

    Where companies like IBM and RedHat make their money from OSS is a much lower level of Managed Services. When you can package the app, package the OS, security, patching, infrastructure to support everything, and have a knowledge base able to reduce down time companies see much more benefit. They can also cater lower cost services to companies with lower budgets. It's cheaper to get a start up moving with RedHat Cluster, Apache and MySql than it is an equivalent Oracle package. IBM and RedHat can not only show you the benefit, but will help you implement it.

    This is where Oracle needs a different mind set, which I doubt will happen. Oracle does Oracle. They don't want to support SunOne, MySQL, or Netscape Products. They want customers to pay for Oracle Directory Server, not get SunOne for free. They want customers to pay for Oracle DB, not use MySQL. They want customers to use Oracle Web server, not the SunOne products or other proven free software.

    The big bucks revenue that Oracle receives each year from contracts like Oracle Apps, Oracle DB, Oracle Identity Manager, etc.. comes from huge players with tons of cash to spend. Small companies don't have the budgets to pay for Oracle, and Oracle has traditionally had an attitude where they don't want to deal with small budgets. I have seen Oracle Sales reps laugh at customers with small budgets, or just completely blow them off and ignore them.

    As long as Oracle has the mind set that they should make a mint off of every deal, there is nothing anyone can do to show them OSS is profitable. Profit to them is a relative term.

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Friday April 16, 2010 @10:18PM (#31879864)

    Consider how msft works. One msft product makes it necessary, or at least expedient, to get another msft product. To run the latest ms-office, you need ms-windows. To get all the features out of Outlook, you have to have Exchange. You can load certain websites without msie, which means you need windows. Why do you think msft is desperate to lock everybody into OOXML? Msft has always followed the strategy: "control the standard, and the money will follow."

    Stop important F/OSS projects, and you hurt F/OSS. Maybe more people will use windows-server, and maybe ms-sql will run better on windows-server than oracle.

    Why do you think Google and IBM support F/OSS so strongly? It's a standard than can, to some extent, keep Microsoft from having an even stronger monopoly.

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