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How To Save $1 Trillion a Year With Open Source

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the still-kicking-after-all-these-years dept.

Linux Business 275

ChiefMonkeyGrinder writes "Cygnus founder Michael Tiemann estimates IT customers globally could save a trillion a year with open source or free source software." Not that a guy with a title like "VP of Open Source Affairs" at Red Hat would have a reason to be biased, but it's an interesting little read about a guy who's been doing this longer than you. Well, most of you anyway.

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275 comments

Good news or bad ?? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29565335)

I don't know. Sonds bad !!

Re:Good news or bad ?? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29565649)

Your grammar also sounds bad.

And you can save even more (5, Funny)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565339)

If you don't get it from Red Hat.

Re:And you can save even more (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565803)

Well, Red Hat have salaries to pay. Like the salary of the guy telling us that the best work comes from people working for free.

Uhh, Who's Gonna Pay?!? (4, Insightful)

mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565357)



Uhh, who's gonna pay to hire a trillion dollars' worth of architects, developers, testers, trainers, managers, distributors, support personnel, human resource departments, etc etc etc?

Or is all that functionality supposed to spring from the ether in a perfect steady-state universe [wikipedia.org] of human perfection & utopia?

Re:Uhh, Who's Gonna Pay?!? (4, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565547)

Mark Shuttleworth?

Re:Uhh, Who's Gonna Pay?!? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29565553)

Ever hear of a broken window?

Re:Uhh, Who's Gonna Pay?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29566839)

Oi! Stone throwers need a job too.

Re:Uhh, Who's Gonna Pay?!? (5, Insightful)

dwandy (907337) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565669)

hey, I'm just prepping up a response and need to clarify if you were going for strawman [wikipedia.org] or false dichotomy [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Uhh, Who's Gonna Pay?!? (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566527)

... clarify if you were going for strawman or false dichotomy ?

Are you trying to subtly sneak in a presumption that it can't be both?

Functionality supposed to spring from the ether (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29565715)

No it will flow from Gaia's infinite tits, just like the funding for SS, Medicare, and whatever underwater entitlements come next.

Open Source is Customer Driven (4, Insightful)

xzvf (924443) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565773)

Most proprietary software companies spend little money on software development. The big players have margins close to 80% with a significant portion of their expenses in marketing and sales. Open Source companies are conduits of money and support to FOSS projects, making money off support and add on features. Generally low margins and small marketing and sales budgets (mostly word of mouth and try before you buy). Now, a massive movement to open source software will cause less total employment in the software industry, but the vast majority of those losses will be in non-technical fields. The economic issue is software is worth only ~25% of what people pay for it today. As performance gains from software purchases decline, the ROI is less compelling, and thus cost of software more critical. The critical shift now is convincing software consuming companies to shift from buying prepackaged software to contributing to the development of open source software. That could be co-ops of like minded software consumers, or some other innovative way.

Re:Open Source is Customer Driven (2, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565939)

You can reasonably argue that software costs 25% of what people pay for it, but it is a little tough to argue that it is worth less than they are paying for it, when confronted with a situation like that, people usually just keep their money.

I would argue that most software is worth far more than people are willing to pay for it, it is a happy benefit of general purpose computers and cheap storage.

Re:Open Source is Customer Driven (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566013)

</em>. Sorry about the tag-fail.

Re:Open Source is Customer Driven (3, Informative)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566473)

Most proprietary software companies spend little money on software development

Cite, please.

I've worked in three different for-profit, closed-source software companies in the past ten years, and in each case R&D was the largest bite of the budget.

If you're charging money for your product this has to be the case - You need a steady stream of innovations to retain existing customers, win customers from competitors and land new customers. If you spent 'little money on software development' you'd soon be out of business. It's really no different, whether you're Acme Software or General Motors...

Re:Uhh, Who's Gonna Pay?!? (4, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565947)

Ho-hum. The solution to your nearly non-problem is to require high school and college "computer science" classes to teach - wait for it - here it comes - COMPUTER SCIENCE!!!

FFS, I'm quite sick of little morons telling me what they've learned in "computer science" classes. It is not science, period. They learn Microsoft-centric keyboard shortcuts, and they are fucking SCIENTISTS???

The brainwashing has simply gone to far. And, the brainwashed haven't a clue that they are victims.

If your little dweeb graduates from any "computer science" class, and he is *nix illiterate, then he has been cheated of an education.

Re:Uhh, Who's Gonna Pay?!? (1)

RKThoadan (89437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566461)

That's about the same amount of science that the real science courses teach you in high school. It is pretty ballsy of them to put science right their in the course name though.

Re:Uhh, Who's Gonna Pay?!? (2, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566683)

"That's about the same amount of science that the real science courses teach you in high school."

Really? I know that I had a modest understanding of the periodic table after one year of chemistry. I actually learned a few skills, and began to think scientifically. And, biology introduced me to some pretty useful concepts and ideas, which aided me later when I became an EMT.

High school science shouldn't necessarily make a real scientist of you, but I also mentioned college. 4 years of biology in college generally qualifies a person for SOMETHING - medical school, pharmacy, some kind of research involving living things - SOMETHING.

My complaint is that a degree in "computer science" qualifies most people to do little more than run Microsoft-centric shops. You know, install, network, and administer Microsoft Windows, and administer Microsoft Office. Sad, in my opinion.

Re:Uhh, Who's Gonna Pay?!? (3, Insightful)

Tim4444 (1122173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566787)

whoa whoa whoa, simmer down hun-dude. nyugi. There's a broad spectrum of "quality" in software education and you can't just point to the technologies used to evaluate a school's program or its students. No four year program could possibly cover everything, so you could always say "Ha, you didn't learn xyz so you didn't get a good education!" It's better to see if they take the time to learn on their own because good programmers will keep learning even after they graduate. As for course material, I'm more interested in whether or not they understand the concepts that transcend technology. Even so, you can't just teach pseudo code for four years and expect to get a good programmer. It's better to learn how to code for one platform well than to just learn abstract concepts that you don't know how to apply anywhere. At the end of the day degrees don't matter much (except to people who don't know how else to evaluate a programmer). I've met Devry grads who were quite good and graduates of ivy league schools who didn't even understand algorithm complexity.

In your career you will meet many people who claim to be software experts but don't know $hi7. The only way to convince them that they don't know something is to teach it to them yourself. Unless you're planning to personally go educate the masses you'd better get used to it. It's better to worry about yourself and let them come around when they're ready.

Re:Uhh, Who's Gonna Pay?!? (2, Insightful)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566341)

Uhh, who's gonna pay to hire a trillion dollars' worth of architects, developers, testers, trainers, managers, distributors, support personnel, human resource departments, etc etc etc?

The same people who pay for it with commercial software. All we are talking about here is software with a different licensing model. I can't see a single business out there that wouldn't like the costs of their software reduced and have the functionality available to do what every other business does the same way they do.

This is the Horizontal market that I think Linux excels in. The basics. If you tell business there is a way they can share their costs with every other business around the world of course they are interested.

As for the Vertical market software that is developed by specialised vendors I don't know how much they pay to be a developer for proprietary solution but just because their software is hosted on a Freed operating system doesn't mean they still can't charge for their solution.

I.T has always been an industry driven by change. I think the day is coming when OSS becomes more widespread because it reduces software licenseing fees. And who is going to say no to keeping more money in their pocket.

Re:Uhh, Who's Gonna Pay?!? (0)

ThePlague (30616) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566677)

Well, saving money on licensing fees is just one piece to consider. There's also training and support costs. The "software commons" are skewed towards microsoft, and other closed system vendors. It's relatively cheap and easy to find people versed in those products, either as a developer, administrator, or end user. Just think of generic office workers. It's not much of a bar to require applicants to be competent in MS products such as Outlook, word, and IE. Require the open office alternatives and firefox, and the pool of prospective workers shrinks considerably. The same goes for more specialized functions, such as developing (and support!) as well as administration. The pool is smaller, thus harder to fill and more expensive.

or how to... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29565367)

I fully understand where he's coming from with this, but another view of it could also be titled "How to collapse the world's economy with Open Source Software". Suddenly pulling a trillion dollars out of the economy would have a pretty severe effect.

Re:or how to... (5, Funny)

lordofthechia (598872) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565405)

"Suddenly pulling a trillion dollars out of the economy would have a pretty severe effect."

Since companies would take the Trillion dollars they save and throw them into a furnace to heat their buildings...

Re:or how to... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29565849)

And burning that trillion dollars would increase the value of our the rest of the currency. Deflation is a good thing.

Re:or how to... (4, Funny)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566265)

And, the heat generated by the burnig of this trillion will accelerate global warming. Open source is bad for the planet.

Re:or how to... (2, Interesting)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566197)

They should, my company is trying to save money by dialing the heat down to 65 in the offices but on the other end, one of the IT departments spent a lot of money on a license for a syslog server. Not kidding, the company sold them a virtual appliance with a configured syslog-ng daemon and they are paying a license based on the events/minute.

The company I work at spends literally millions in closed source licenses for all types of crap that can be easily done using open source alternatives. Sometimes I wonder if there is nobody that actually checks what other software there is available on the market that would fulfill their needs.

Re:or how to... (5, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565409)

You're forgetting that the savings would be immediately put back into executive salaries.

Re:or how to... (2, Funny)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565545)

You're forgetting that the savings would be immediately put back into executive salaries.

And it's us, the computer janitors, who would have to retrain everybody and have to work around the quirks of all new systems that were replaced by working ones. Wonderful!

Re:or how to... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565577)

yes. ain't cost cutting great!

Re:or how to... (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565671)

Naturally. Since of course the current expensive stuff is 100% bug and quirk free and 100% efficient for any and all purposes ever.

Re:or how to... (0, Troll)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566171)

so, then, you're still not convinced trickly down economoics was a flop?

Re:or how to... (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565515)

broken window much?

Broken Window Fallacy (5, Insightful)

Comboman (895500) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565891)

Normally the windows in the Broken Window Fallacy [wikipedia.org] are glass windows, not Windows OS.

Re:Broken Window Fallacy (0, Troll)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566937)

Yes, but at least glass windows are normally functional.

Re:or how to... (1)

iammani (1392285) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566367)

The only thing severely affected in this hypothetical situation would be microsoft's and other propriety software developers coffers and employees.

Re:or how to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29566797)

Short term, yes - but longer term all those folks would be employed helping to migrate applications that businesses use and require from say Windows to say Linux. It's a big step from a business like the one I work in (90,000 computers, 4,000 windows apps + myriad uncountable apps running on IIS) to a Linux desktop. It would require a huge amount of developers converting those proprietary apps, a large number of architects and IT folks to move data for the non-proprietary ones, etc. I don't believe it would take any money out of the economy as this would be a huge set of projects. Long term - when it was complete maybe once there are fewer license costs.

Re:or how to... (1)

toolie (22684) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566945)

The only thing severely affected in this hypothetical situation would be microsoft's and other propriety software developers coffers and employees.

And the company doing the switching as they experience a period of lower productivity as they have to retrain the employees on using the new software.

How do you make money with free software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29565381)

Volume.

how much is that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29565391)

...in numbers of Libraries of Congress?

(anon because it's a stupid joke)

Dubious figures (3, Insightful)

Toreo asesino (951231) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565397)

Assuming that losing license fees directly means profit gain is somewhat dubious logic to say the least. Sometimes it pays to invest in paid solutions; and rarely is any one software stack purely OSS or propriety.

Re:Dubious figures (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565733)

Licensing without solid support buys you exactly nothing but the warm fuzzy feeling that when the BSA extortionists parachute in to your office and screw you over you were ethically in the right (even though you still had to fork over). Most licensed software is not a paid solution, it's just pieces you pay for and then you have to build the solution yourself.

That's why even 100% Windows shops still have to have an IT department and internal helpdesk.

Re:Dubious figures (1)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565837)

"Support" doesn't mean "set up your system for you"...people seem to get that confused a lot. It means that if something isn't working as designed, they (the support people) will help you figure out why.

Re:Dubious figures (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566353)

I don't believe you've ever worked in IT. As on-site support, you have only marginally more debugging ability than the support that comes with the OS.

If there's a software problem, IT generally needs to come up with a workaround long before the vendor will deal with it. Having the ability to personally look at the problem, solve it, and throw off a patch for consideration is far superior, since the delay in getting to the vendor's support is usually not worth the time you could've just spent finding a work-around.

To be fair, a work around is probably also less work than a fix, but FOSS means that there are circumstances in which an IT department working with proprietary software would just sweep it under the rug instead fixes the problem once and for all. With proprietary software, you need a really good reason not to sweep it under the rug and get on with your day.

Re:Dubious figures (1, Insightful)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566357)

Licensing is a tiny fraction of what we pay for our infrastructure.

besides, we looked at the math. We have over 2,500 MS Server licenses. We don't buy support, we pay on a case by case basis or buy blocks of support hours. Support total costs us under $15K anually. We have an EA to cover upgrade costs, and don;t buy licences on a one-to-one basis for servers either.

With RedHat and Suse, we pay nothing for the OS, but we buy support on each and every install (since support is tracked on a system to system basis by hteir organizations), and in the end, each RedHat licence actually costs more than each Windows (standard) License according to our IS Finance folks. The difference, mostly, is that it's easier to support and patch Linux systems in VMWare, especially on a mainframe where we can utilize single binary imaging. There are just less regulatory and compliance hurdles to Linux.

In the end though, the only reason we use Linux is not because it;s cheaper to license or easier to maintain, but because it run in s390x, and microsoft does not, so IFL licensing saves us millions per year vs x86 and x64 licensing... When they make a version of Windows for s390x hardware, that will change fast an d we'll deploy a lot more microsoft OS.

Re:Dubious figures (0, Flamebait)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566917)

It seemed to me the same sort of logic that the RIAA uses... piracy=lost sales being the analog.

I love FOSS software, but that seems optimistic... (2, Insightful)

onionman (975962) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565423)

RedHat (current owner of Cygnus) has made a successful business providing high quality support for FOSS software, and I think that's great! However, the $1T estimate seems like it might just be a tad biased and perhaps ignoring some hidden costs, but I can't tell from the FA because it just references the figure without any details for the estimate.

Curious about the F/OSS devs thoughts. (4, Insightful)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565427)

When you guys see these kinds of articles, the ones that say "save BIG money with F/OSS","Get anything you need in software for FREE with F/OSS", etc... and there you are: designing, researching, cranking out code, putting it out there, and for the exception of a very very small minority of you, barely getting enough money to pay for the bandwidth for your server(s) - if that.

I'd be pretty pissed to see folks in big offices making real nice livings off of software that I designed and developed and tested.

I guess that's why I'm not a F/OSS developer.

Re:Curious about the F/OSS devs thoughts. (1)

pgmrdlm (1642279) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565745)

Sorry, I disagree. It's all in the buisness model. You write a open source application that replaces a common buisness application. No purchase cost, no license cost, but you charge for support. Get one major company to switch to your application and also purchase your support services. Your making money from your work. Again, you have to think about the buisness model here. Open source does not equate no return on your work.

Re:Curious about the F/OSS devs thoughts. (1)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565867)

How many open source devs are getting paid to provide support? How many of them have the time to do that? I'm guessing next to none. The people getting paid are the people who set up dedicated support shops (like Redhat or Ubuntu) and ride on the backs of the devs.

Re:Curious about the F/OSS devs thoughts. (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566629)

But how many users are actually paying for support? 3%? Frankly I'd be amazed if the numbers are better than 1%. Just look at how many admins were ready to shit kittens when the problems with CentOS came up. Why would they care? Because they were running a whole lot of production servers on it so they wouldn't have to pay Red Hat squat, that's why.

While I have nothing but respect for those that actually manage to pull the "get'em to pay for support" model off, if every company was to jump on that bandwagon the amount of money being spent on software would seriously tank, and fast, which of course would equal quite a lot more folks out of work. I mean does anybody believe that if say...oh lets say Adobe with PhotoShop or MSFT with MS Office were to switch to that model that they would be getting 1/1000th of what they make for those particular products? For every one that you have paying for support you probably have 10,000 to 100,000 or more, depending on how popular the project is, not paying for support.

I bet the bandwidth bills alone on something like Open Office make it a serious money loser, which is why I'm still expecting Oracle to cut it loose. I'm also willing to bet that is why Shuttleworth has come out with Ubuntu server, as the desktop is probably bleeding cash because so few actually pay for support for desktops. Not every project can stay afloat strictly on the "get'em to pay for support" model. I'm guessing the really popular consumer level stuff probably don't make squat since Linux users can just go to the forums and get help for their problems without needing to pay anybody.

Believablity gap. (2, Insightful)

Delusion_ (56114) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565433)

Though he makes good points in the very brief article, turning it into a $1Trillion USD figure just comes off as shock tactics, and probably comes off as more open-source ranting to anyone just reading the headlines, or to anyone with a bias against open source proselytizing.

I don't have strong opinions about the matter, myself. I've seen some open source disasters where the proprietary solution is the industry standard for very good reasons, and I've also seen open source projects that are amazing, and amazingly practical.

It's true (4, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565459)

I spend more on support than I do on software and there's almost no support even purchasable for opens source so I'd save a bundle!

I'm sure I'll get modded troll or something but I'm being serious. Some software is really expensive like matlab. But it always works. But a couple times a year I have to swicth from Fink to macports or vica versa because one or the other won't build the dependencies I need for matplot lib or octave. that costs me a lot of money in time.

Open source is not a cheap replacement if your time has value. But I still use it a lot none the less. it may not be cheap but sometimes it is better or has features you can't replicate easily in a single computing environment outside open source.

  The biggest advantage and problem with open source is portability. I use open source so that I gan give my code written on top of it to someone else. I can't do that if I write in matlab and use exotic toolkits. But on the flip side it's also why code written in open source rather than a homogenous environment is so fragile and may not work in a few years (because say some critical library is gone). (Take for example the disappearance of whythelucky stiff and thus the demise of all SYCK based YAML bindings.)

SO it's true that you'd save a bundle on open source. You'd wish you could pay to have it maintained. You will pay with your own time instead.

Re:It's true (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565689)

The RMS Open Source business model doesn't lead to applications that have good intuitive interface or easy installation or configuration. Because they expect to make money in supporting and consulting their products.

Closed source software want to make money from selling their products to the people directly so they put effort in making it easier to use and setup.

YES THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS AND THIS IS A GENERALIZATION

However a lot of the "Enterprise class" Open Source software which does work just as well if not better then their Closed source counterparts do not have the well polished Interface to them that allows most people to be able to get it up and running much easier. Meaning having to pay for more expensive experts to use the software or pay for external sources to get it up and running.

Re:It's true (1)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565903)

A good example of this is ActiveDirectory vs Samba+OpenLDAP.

Re:It's true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29565711)

This is why anybody with a working brain tries to use C based libraries and do everything possible in C.
In 15 years C code will be still compilable and work as expected.
C++ code will need thousands of modifications as the language will be completely unlike anything in use now.
C# code won't exist outside of occasional "Wanted C# coder with 30 years experience to fix embedded Windows XP system with year 2025 problems. Offer valid until the reactor melts down" job offers.

Re:It's true (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565761)

How did a critical library go away? (I'm not familiar with whythelucky stiff)

My experience has been just the opposite. Many closed source packages not are supported on newer versions of the OS, but when I needed a grep feature that my vendor didn't provide, I was able to find 10 year old GNU grep sources. They compiled the first time right out of the box.

Since you have sources, why don't you just port the old library to the new OS?

Re:It's true (2, Informative)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566045)

 

Since you have sources, why don't you just port the old library to the new OS?

That's the point I was trying to make. You pay with your time. code you wrote a years ago won't run. sometimes a couple times a year you have to re-write deep layers to compile it against some new library, re-write code wo work around API changes or bugs. etc... Sometimes the libs you need don't compile on the latest OS or you have to screw around with obscure makefiles, maybe ones written in things you don't understand (configure, c-make, scons, make, distulis, debain, ...) and getting the paths and lib paths all set, making sure names of libs are right. Dealing with dead rsync repositiories. conflicts. Sometimes you just don't have that much time.

I use open source a lot. But I use it because it often provides things I need that I can't get other ways. People who sell it because it's "free" of costs amuse me. It's more expensive if your time has value. It's better too. But it's not cheap and I wish I could pay someone to maintain it for me.

How did a critical library go away? (I'm not familiar with whythelucky stiff)

this is getting off topic but google him or look at wikipedia. For some reason he vanished a couple months ago online and deleted all his repositories, e-mail accounts, etc.. Some of this has been saved in an ad hoc fashion. But since his site was sort of a clearing house for YAML bindings built on his libraries, 100% of those links are broken. Google shows no hits on replacement links. So things like YAML bindings for Objective-C have vanished from the universe of ready availability. Presumably lots of people do have the code on their own machines, but it will be a long interval before the situation get's normalized.

Re:It's true (1)

Demonantis (1340557) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565825)

I completely agree with you. This is just like the guy toting opendns as being bad. Most companies have IT departments and if the guys running it are worth their salt they will research the best solution for the problem. Sometimes OSS wins sometimes Proprietary wins it completely depends on the niche they are trying to fill and the budget they have. These guys that are trying to sell you their software are just marketing. You should not take their comments at face value and at least the summary tries to tell you that.

Re:It's true (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565975)

Yes, no company has ever gone out of business, or been bought out and had operations shut down. Ever.

Whoever you do business with, you are taking a risk, it doesn't matter if it is some rather odd guy on the internet or if it is IBM, you assess the risks and benefits and go forward when the one outweighs the other.

Re:It's true (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566269)

Yes, No Open Source project has been abandoned with no succession and lets the project relatively die and by the time it needs to be picked up the code is so out of date that people will just start from scratch.

For the most part when a company goes out of business if they have a profitable product that has a decent following then some other company will buy it and keep it going or at least make a clean(er) path to migrate to their project.

For example I am working on a software project that uses the Advantage Database. Well guess what it is now own and maintained by SyBase. The risks of loosing you app are about the same for Open Source vs. closed source.

If people don't care for the app then it will most likely die. If there is a good following then it will succeed

Re:It's true (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566575)

I don't really see why you felt the need to sarcastically repeat the point from the GP post that I was sarcastically mocking with my statement about companies going out of business, as you proceed to spend 3 paragraphs agreeing with me. I suppose your point might be that software backed up by a company is often a safer bet than some open source software, but I didn't really making any assertions about one category being safer or not, so your sarcasm is misplaced.

Re:It's true (4, Informative)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565981)

I spend more on support than I do on software and there's almost no support even purchasable for opens source so I'd save a bundle!

What open source software can't you find support for? Have you tried IBM, Redhat, and Canonical? I usually attribute support as a win for OSS, since you can take bids from multiple companies for your support needs. Obviously it only scales well on the top end, but a lot of larger companies hire an engineer to support a package internally as well as do development on that package to better meet the company's needs. I tell you, support is never better when one of the core developers for a project is on the payroll and works on that software 24-7.

Open source is not a cheap replacement if your time has value.

This is often quite true for individuals using packages that are not very widely in use. But that's not what this article was all about. He's talking about big businesses who spend huge amounts of money on software licensing for small returns. By the numbers, those companies could work together to fund the creation of OSS tools for a small fraction of the cost. We're not talking about you donating $5 bucks to use the GIMP and then supporting it yourself. We're talking about a couple hundred companies each paying a coder to work on developing it and saving all the photoshop license fees which currently cost them 25 times as much. Mind you, that's how the numbers he put together represent it for the low hanging fruit programs in use right now in the industry. It probably would be a lesser benefit going forward. For those companies, support becomes a whole lot better than it is now. The internal employee or directly paid contractor you have developing the GIMP is going to be a lot better in general than going through the hell that is trying to get an answer and solution from Adobe. For individuals, most of the problems they have are smoothed out by the big players and they get a free ride, but for support, well then they have to go with a contracting company that supports that package. But at least as an individual you can still shop around and pick your support company and I bet it is cheaper than paying Adobe licensing and support. Try telling Adobe you don't like their support so you're going to somewhere else that supports Photoshop if they don't improve responsiveness.

The real problem with all this is showing businesses how much the status quo is costing them and convincing them of the real savings they can get, and convincing enough of them to make those savings a reality. For this, third party companies can be a support barrier which is why organizational groups are probably more efficient. Then you still have to overcome the momentum of business culture. You might, possibly get a raise or a promotion if you save your company money by switching to an OSS project, but it is risky. It's a lot safer to let a commercial vendor take you on a few junkets, buy you some nice meals and expensive booze, take in a show, and sign off on a purchase order and don't rock the boat.

Re:It's true (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566407)

Have you tried IBM, Redhat, and Canonical?

Yes I've tried redhat. But since I use both Linux and Mac that does not really help. Moreover I have and will will gladly pay for (affordable) service. I wish it was more available. But it's rarely the OS that I have problems with. The OS works fine. it's all the libs and dependencies outside the paid-for distro that make it a nightmare to use without support.

My point was I love open source preciseley because I can do more with it. For example, matlab does not have YAML bindings at all. If I want to use YAML and also plot scientific calcualtions it's quite likely Python is a better choice.

But it's not free. you pay for it with your time. saying it is free is silly. In my experience open source is more expensive and more versatile. You are getting what you are paying for, but you are paying.

I spend more on support than I do on software and there's almost no support even purchasable for opens source so I'd save a bundle!

What open source software can't you find support for?

Even just on linux the things that have bitten me a myriad. Most recently, changes in the matplotlib 3d libraries mean old codes don't work. the SYCK distribution for YAML is gone, meaning for example, no bindings for Objective-C and a dozen other languages. I've had problems with lots of graphic viz libs not compiling because they needed GCC compat libs or needed libpaths different that the way the current distro was set up.

I tell you, support is never better when one of the core developers for a project is on the payroll and works on that software 24-7.

*snort* if only I had that kind of money!

Open source is not a cheap replacement if your time has value.

This is often quite true for individuals using packages that are not very widely in use. But that's not what this article was all about. He's talking about big businesses who spend huge amounts of money on software licensing for small returns.

Look I acknolwedge your point here. But I think you are living in a dream world where everyone knows what their bussiness plan and budget are more than a yearahead of time. That's not the way reality flows in my experience.

Re:It's true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29566503)

Since when is Fink or Macports a great example of open source software? I've used them too, and they both suck to varying degrees. Sometimes their packages won't even compile correctly. I've also used the real thing (Ubuntu, Debian repositories in Ubuntu, Debian) and haven't had any problems. There's no use in judging open source software by using OSX ports of open source software. OSX is rather open source unfriendly in subtle ways.

Re:It's true (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566841)

You'd wish you could pay to have it maintained.

You can. Why don't you?

It seems there are lots of folks who get the intrinsic benefits of FLOSS, get why there are benefits of paying for support, but then decline to pay for support for FLOSS.

One would think this would be a pure value judgement, but it's not. I'd be curious if some could offer a hypothesis.

Re:It's true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29566863)

Speaking of things that "may not work in a few years", the world of proprietary software is not exactly standing on high ground either. When a software company gets bought out, the real value to the acquirer is its customer base. Company X buys Company Y, relegating Company Y's product to "legacy status". The customers of former Company Y get a discount to purchase and migrate to Company X's (more expensive) product. For some reason, the companies with the worst products have a way of coming up with the cash to buy the competition and make them disappear.

Open source is not totally immune to product obsolescence, but at least the developers are not motivated to make the problem any worse than it has to be.

On open source (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29565469)

While I can appreciate the appeal of open/free source for IT guys like myself, I can't help but think that some of us push this ideal a bit too far. I currently make a living writing software, as millions of others do, and I'd like to continue making a living for the foreseeable future. Developers need to eat, too. The normal reply to a comment like this is that customers will pay for the support, rather than the software itself. Okay with me, but then how are customers going to save one trillion dollars?

What other industry consists of so many people that argue that the products they develop (or services they provide, if you prefer) should be free? Do doctors or lawyers or engineers ever argue that their service should be free? Construction workers? Accountants? Anyone? We're shooting ourselves in the foot.

Re:On open source (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565571)

Great Post. I'd just add that many of us spent a lot of time, money, and sweat getting our engineering or CS degrees and we didn't do it because we wanted to be in the support business. Most of us don't have the people skills to be a great at support anyway.

Re:On open source (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29565799)

"I shouldn't have to give my work away for free!" is a backwards argument. Nobody asked you to give *your* work away for free or even at non-monetary cost like so much of the FOSS community.

The fact that you now have to compete with people whose products compete on functionality or quality and all have the same zero-money pricing isn't anybody's problem but yours.

Re:On open source (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566605)

Did you mean to reply to the AC?

Anyway, I probably have a decade or so left in my career at most so it's really an issue for younger developers.

There are special cases like Red Hat, but I don't see much evidence that a FOSS-only industry is sustainable. It's one thing to fly the FOSS banner while complaining about your proprietary day job that pays your bills, it's quite another to decide to major in a difficult subject that doesn't pay well or has few jobs.

Re:On open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29565599)

The difference between doctors and lawyers vs coders is portability. Computer code is not strongly tied to geography (duh ... outsourcing can work). Where's it's hard for your doc to do a physical exam if he's across the country. The point is, as a coder you compete on a bigger playing field and that bigger playing field places more downward pressure on fiscal rewards.

Re:On open source (1)

mjihad (686196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566065)

The difference between doctors and lawyers vs coders is portability. Computer code is not strongly tied to geography (duh ... outsourcing can work). Where's it's hard for your doc to do a physical exam if he's across the country. The point is, as a coder you compete on a bigger playing field and that bigger playing field places more downward pressure on fiscal rewards.

While it is true that computer code isn't tied to a particular geographical area, outsourcing comes with its share of problems which usually don't make it a very interesting proposition, at least for short term projects. For example, this article on CIO [cio.com] illustrates some of the costs which are frequently overlooked when outsourcing.

I do believe, however, that the perception that "it's cheaper to do it overseas" does put a downwards pressure on wages.

Re:On open source (4, Insightful)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565787)

Do doctors or lawyers or engineers ever argue that their service should be free?

They should be paid for their services but the knowledge they use shouldn't be secret, especially in Medicine or Law. (Imagine you doctor wanted to give you a new drug, but wouldn't tell you the name or what was in it. or you were charged with violating a secret law)

Re:On open source (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566311)

Developers need to eat, too. The normal reply to a comment like this is that customers will pay for the support, rather than the software itself.

So charge a reasonable price for your software. If it does what I need with a GUI and workflow that works for me, I'll more than happily buy it! Really.

I don't know why people seem to think it's either completely white or completely black. There can be a solid middle ground.

I've paid for some decent software for Linux, and have never regretted it.

Re:On open source (1)

magus_melchior (262681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566595)

On products: There aren't very many industries where the "product" (that is, software) can be replicated with minuscule cost. Sure, there are issues like copyright and (ugh) patents, and thanks to Bill Gates, companies can and do charge for licenses that impose pseudo-legal (consumer) or contractual (business) limitations on use. But taken by itself, software as a product is often treated as something with little or no cost. Certainly, anything made by a loosely-connected band of volunteers will invariably be gratis, compared to an app written by a company's development team.

On services: I think you actually won't find very many people arguing for free services within the OSS community. No one's complaining that Red Hat makes money doing this, nor are the complaints thrown at Novell or IBM of this nature-- they're commonly complaints based around making indemnity agreements with companies who are historically hostile to open source.

Re:On open source (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566727)

currently make a living writing software, as millions of others do, and I'd like to continue making a living for the foreseeable future. Developers need to eat, too. The normal reply to a comment like this is that customers will pay for the support, rather than the software itself.

This is perilously close to a strawman. I give you the benefit of the doubt only because it is such a common misperception that OSS coders don't get paid. Developers get paid to write OSS code. The main difference is who is paying them and how. Support is another market, but it is joined together after a fashion. So right now if you work at Microsoft you get paid to work on new feature X to get customers to buy the new version of a closed source project based upon MS's customer surveys and feature requests. As on open source developer, you get paid by your company to work on a new feature Y instead. The company you're working for might be a large corporation who is a big user of the software and who wants that feature. They keep you on retainer to constantly contribute to the OSS package and add features they want as well as provide support within the company. Or you might be working for a company that sells services and support who is paid by medium sized companies who also use the package and want specific improvements. Or you might work for yourself or an industry group, writing the whole thing by yourself or with a team and being paid for individual services. You add a feature either when hired outright to do so or when enough users pledge a specific amount of money towards that feature. In all cases you're still getting paid to code. The difference is some of the inefficiency is taken out. You won't be paid residuals forever for some package, so you need to make sure to extract your fees up front. You won't be able to lock in users as easily by being the only possible developer for a package, so you have to compete harder. Realistically, being a coder working in OSS is a leaner business model and is not to the advantage of the individual coder for the industry to move that direction.

Okay with me, but then how are customers going to save one trillion dollars?

Some of that trillion dollars comes from coders being paid less because the industry is more competitive. A lot of it comes from all the other people in the software industry. Instead of 150 HR people scattered across 50 commercial closed source companies, you have three working at contract companies. There are a lot fewer executives and CEO's taking a share as well. There are a lot fewer actual brick and mortar locations with more people working in existing businesses. All the sales guys and their salaries and commissions are gone and that's a big chunk. A move to open source for coding is not going to bring more pork to coders, but it is also not going to hurt them so much as it will other people in the industry and that is a small harm compared tot he great benefit it brings to everything but the software industry.

The important thing to remember though, is OSS is about being more competitive. While it may not benefit coders in general it hurts slow adopters the most. It's like any other change in the industry. Using development practices that take twice as long for the same result benefit coders too, they gat paid twice as many hours... right up until their company goes out of business because a more efficient method is being used by a competitor. If you don't know what the broken window fallacy of economics is, look it up. It might be a great to be a glazier in an economy where people believe such a fallacy, but it is selfish to advocate such a policy even if you are a glazier and not a good long term strategy. Eventually someone figures out how to make bulletproof glass and it's better to be the glazier that invents it rather than one of the ones who becomes a house painter when the market adapts.

This is un-American (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565493)

Now when our fatherland is in danger due to economic troubles brought on by nefarious Italian financial schemings, what we need is more spending. Instead, what are the "open source" advocates saying? "Save" money! They might as well say inboccallupo!!!! Well I for one will support American corporations like Microsoft against the Italian "Gnu" menace. Our economy and Our Nation are at stake. Thank GOD for President Obama who has the BALLS to stand up to the Afghanistan threat and give more money to the biggest U.S. corporations. Good morning and GOD BLESS AMERICA! Damn Italians to HELL!

From TFA (4, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565527)

I got a chuckle from this gem:

The reality of the situation was that we couldn't find any names that were not previously registered. When I lamented this fact to a couple of my Net friends, one of them searched the dictionary for words that contained "GNU". And "Cygnus" seemed the one that was least obscene

Re:From TFA (3, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565721)

I wish GIMP has followed that lead. I used to use it in my web development classes for teaching basic graphics editing, but it was so embarrassing for people to see the name, I finally stopped using it. Better to spend some money than to offend a bunch of people and look like a jackass as an instructor (whether you view it as a derogatory name for the handicapped or a Pulp Fiction reference, it's pretty damn bad either way).

Re:From TFA (2, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566247)

Just fork it and change it's name :P

Re:From TFA (1)

pz (113803) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566113)

I got a chuckle from this gem:

The reality of the situation was that we couldn't find any names that were not previously registered. When I lamented this fact to a couple of my Net friends, one of them searched the dictionary for words that contained "GNU". And "Cygnus" seemed the one that was least obscene

If you use the command "cat /usr/share/dict/words | grep gnu" then you get (commas added to avoid the lameness filter):

agnus, agnuses, bagnut, Cygnus, cygnus, double-magnum, Elaeagnus, encoignure, encoignures,
gnu, gnus, hognut, hognuts, ingnue, interregnum, interregnums, lignum, lignums,
Magnum, magnum, magnums, Magnus, Magnuson, Magnusson,
pignus, pignut, pignuts, regnum, rignum, signum, Spagnuoli, spagnuolo,
Sphagnum, sphagnum, sphagnums, spignut, stagnum, tignum, triregnum

So, yeah, I gotta agree. Either oddly obscene, or too oddly impractical, although I might have selected tignum instead of cygnus.

Re:From TFA (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566397)

Our mission is clear: Ubuntu 9.10 Fucking Ferrets.

Statistics are 60% fun 28% correct 12% monkeys (3, Insightful)

NYMeatball (1635689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565543)

While I found this read interesting, I was a little disappointed to find much of his evidence random strings of numerical data. I'm sure anyone here can infer the cost savings and increased support in moving from an MS office to OpenOffice suite scheme within their enterprise, or transitioning from [Microsoft Product X] to [Opensource Magic Y]. On the other hand though, there's no insight as to how to deal with the seemingly obvious problem of our interdependency on these licensed products. I'm a database developer where I work, so speaking from where this impacts me the most, I can appreciate simple things like leveraging MySQL or other free source apps where appropriate. On the same vein, I don't see how reading this article immediately makes me jump up and go "Oh! Let's transition off of oracle for our company wide HR system." There's a reason all of these products have kept themselves going over the past 10, 15, etc years - and its more than just marketing and capitalism at work. Saying you can completely replace all or most of your IT resources with open source initiatives is ambitious at best, and completely ignorant at worst.

Re:Statistics are 60% fun 28% correct 12% monkeys (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566203)

On the same vein, I don't see how reading this article immediately makes me jump up and go "Oh! Let's transition off of oracle for our company wide HR system."

I don't think that was his point. He seemed to be targeting a higher level of action, like getting enterprises to perform cost analysis and see if they can get a chunk of savings, and getting industry working groups to look into OSS collaboration in areas where it makes sense but is not in use do to sheer momentum in the industry, and finally for governments and other organizations looking at the economy and wondering where we can innovate with tax dollars that will both save tax dollars long term and provide real benefits tot he rest of the economy. Buying a hundred thousand troop transports for Ford under the idea that "what's good for Ford is good for the US" is not really a practical economic incentive in the long term. Paying 10,000 US coders to spend 5 years working on open source projects the government can use, on the other hand dumps the same cash into the US economy and reduces unnecessary costs for corporations in the US that can use the same projects because copying it is free, and provides the government with more flexibility going forward as they can hire anyone to work on these projects at the end of those 5 years, as opposed to just one company.

I don't think his intention is to say, "you can save one trillion dollars, but Redhat!" so much as to point out how inefficient our current software development and licensing is and how much waste is involved and how we could have fewer "broken windows" (Microsoft deriding pun intended) and a more competitive national economy.

Fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29565645)

He's working under the assumption that both closed and open software provide exactly the same services.

There are closed source packages for which no open solution exists. Fatal flaw in argument located.

If open source is truly a better solution then it will win in the end. Given that Linux was released before even Windows 3.1 and that Windows has completely dominated the market shows this does not seem to be happening. Perhaps people like Windows more than Linux. Perhaps Windows is easier to use and thus gets wider distribution. Perhaps evil corporations are killing Linux in a grand conspiracy. Whatever the reason facts are facts :) Now get back to work and polish that software so it doesn't suck so hard.

Flame on.

Misleading numbers (1)

fhuglegads (1334505) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565647)

I think the numbers are misleading. Of the $60B "saved".. how much of that would have been projects that never launched in the first place due to the cost involved with COTS software? I bet there was more than $60B saved by companies that pirate software. Perhaps there should be a story on how we could save a trillion dollars if only we'd stop doing things legally.

Oh the irony (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565723)

The guy is talking about FOSS saving all this money, so he takes to making outlandish claims to get PR for himself, hits for his site.

OBInigo Montoya (1)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566723)

Irony

That word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

And I guarantee you a 20% return (1)

Grashnak (1003791) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565811)

Listen, mutual funds a mugs game. You want to get in on the real investing. Open Source is where it's at. I'm managing a lot of peoples' money in the Open Source derivatives market, but I like you so I'll squeeze you in. Minimum investment is $100,000 but I've delivered consistent 20% returns to my clients over the last decade, as these complicated 1000 page spreadsheets will show. Really, if you aren't inversting in Open Source, you might as well be lighting your money on fire.

Re:And I guarantee you a 20% return (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566281)

Fact checking and due diligence. Spreadsheets in XLS format. Fail.

Next. :-)

$1 Trillion for whom (1)

Nerdposeur (910128) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565861)

"How To Save $1 Trillion a Year With Open Source." Step 1: be the sum of all IT organizations worldwide.

Save money on software aquisition (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565877)

But what about staff training, support etc..?

Windows skills are cheap and plentiful. People may dabble with Linux, but those who truly know their stuff are probably already earning lots as a Unix or Linux admin.

Re:Save money on software aquisition (3, Funny)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566127)

SHUT UP! As soon as your company converts to FOSS all will be rainbows and unicorns! Your secretary will automagically know Thunderbird. Your graphics team will pick up GIMP in a day. Your sys admins experience and training on Windows servers will make him an instant Red Hat server guru. There's no learning curve, just awesomeness and freedom to change the software as you please!

Re:Save money on software aquisition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29566297)

It should start with schools, schools that made you believe that learning to point, drag, click and auto-complete equals computer science.

Re:Save money on software aquisition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29566439)

in FOSS if you encounter a problem just go ask around the forums or irc. If you think the software you are using is lacking something put a dev team on your payroll and have them develop on top of that software or go to their site and click on the feature request, if your request is doable or viable enough they will be more than willing to implement it.

when Torvalds (1)

bubba318i (1643759) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565915)

When Torvalds said Linux was bloated, was he talking about the penguins wallet?

Uhuh... (1)

Jeeeb (1141117) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565923)

Great that will make up for the 200billion we apparently lose to piracy! Seriously who could come up with/report such an obviously out of the world BS statistic while keeping a strait face.

That's all well and good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29565979)

Yes, but does it run Li... Wait, what?

How I see it (1)

zero0ne (1309517) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566179)

IMO, I feel a good company is one that stays competitive. I've always felt that the best way to do this is to branch out. There is no better way in todays economy than to get your own team of awesome programmers and have them work on maintaining your codebase or rolling your own product. Assuming you arent the market leader, you have the added bonus of possibly selling your product to your competitors.

If they are using your product, and you keep your sold product a step or two below your current build, you now KNOW you have the advantage.

$1T ? I don't think so... (2, Informative)

sirwired (27582) | more than 4 years ago | (#29566401)

The ever-useful Google/WikiPedia combo pointed to a research report estimating the global size of the software industry at $308B in 2008. Saving $1T by not paying licensing fees to an industry worth 1/3rd as much would be a neat trick. Especially given how even $0 Open Source software is not free to support.

SirWired

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