Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Open Source Pioneer Michael Tiemann On Open Source Business Success

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the smash-the-system dept.

Open Source 41

ectoman (594315) writes Opensource.com has a summary of an interview with Michael Tiemann, co-founder of Cygnus Solutions and one of the world's first open source entrepreneurs. Now VP of Open Source Affairs at Red Hat, Tiemann offers an historical perspective on what makes open source businesses successful, and shares how he dealt with the open source movement's early skeptics. "A lot of the skepticism is a response to the abstract; it's a response to the unknown," Tiemann says, "And when you bring a concrete success story with just absolutely stellar credentials that doesn't just outperform the field, but embarrasses the field, then the skeptics begin to look like they're on the wrong side." The full audio interview on Hacker Public radio (~1 hour).

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

yeah well (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606691)

my dick is a LOT BIGGER than yours and thats what matters. so just keep buyin your bigass SUVs and pickups that you never drive offroad or carry a lotta cargo with - we know what youre compensating for!

Re:yeah well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606783)

sex is overrated anyway. once you realize that you also realize that you don't need or want 99.9999% of what's sold on the market. Life becomes a lot cheaper and a lot more enjoyable.

Re:yeah well (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606849)

What is that 0.0001% that you would enjoy?

Re:yeah well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47607043)

probably different from the 0.0001% that you would enjoy. that's the beauty of it. your funds are freed up to focus on the 0.0001% that actually interests you instead of all those penis extension purchases and/or whatever the gf/wife expects you to buy for continued use of her vagina.

Re: yeah well (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606935)

Shut up virgin. Your sister used to think the same until I stuck my dick in her.

Re: yeah well (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47607015)

you certainly have low standards...

Re: yeah well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47611245)

then so does your mom

Skepticism of open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606771)

I'm not so sure that's true.

Re:Skepticism of open source? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 3 months ago | (#47606817)

I'm not so sure that's true.

It isn't true now, you just have to look at Red Hat. It was true in the 1980s when Tiemann started his business.

Sometimes I really hate the web.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606897)

I'm not so sure that's true.

It isn't true now, you just have to look at Red Hat. It was true in the 1980s when Tiemann started his business.

Ok, Imagine that I say in person:

"Skepticism of open source?" *with a look on my face*

And then say:

"I am not so sure that's true." *with another look on my face*

I would hope that you'd take it as a joke.

Get it: skepticism and then being skeptic about the skepticism?

And explaining jokes means I have failed.

Mother, leave me alone!

Re:Sometimes I really hate the web.... (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 3 months ago | (#47606927)

I'm not so sure that's true.

It isn't true now, you just have to look at Red Hat. It was true in the 1980s when Tiemann started his business.

Ok, Imagine that I say in person:

"Skepticism of open source?" *with a look on my face*

And then say:

"I am not so sure that's true." *with another look on my face*

I would hope that you'd take it as a joke.

Get it: skepticism and then being skeptic about the skepticism?

And explaining jokes means I have failed.

Mother, leave me alone!

Fair enough ... I deserve a "whooshh..."

Re:Sometimes I really hate the web.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47608227)

I'm not so sure that's true.

It isn't true now, you just have to look at Red Hat. It was true in the 1980s when Tiemann started his business.

Ok, Imagine that I say in person:

"Skepticism of open source?" *with a look on my face*

And then say:

"I am not so sure that's true." *with another look on my face*

I would hope that you'd take it as a joke.

Get it: skepticism and then being skeptic about the skepticism?

And explaining jokes means I have failed.

Mother, leave me alone!

Fair enough ... I deserve a "whooshh..."

no you deserve a nigger dick in your mouth

Still a hurtle (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#47606865)

I'm a big proponent of open source, but I still have yet to have anything but small victories. I've gotten a few small tools and such approved. But getting executives to "bet" on large, enterprise applications that could sink the company if they go south? Not going to happen yet. As far as they're concerned the softwares maintained by a team of teenagers in their parents basements. They can get binding contracts that state the goals and future of commercial software. We've a lot of evidence that those contracts are rarely abided by, but at least you can sue someone and have a scapegoat when that happens. But with open source, they fear everyone could just up and quit tomorrow leaving them hanging.

I don't have a solution to that perception problem, but it's the single biggest problem I have in selling Open Source to executives. Figure that one out, and commercial software will be dead tomorrow.

Re:Still a hurtle (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 3 months ago | (#47606909)

Figure that one out, and commercial software will be dead tomorrow.

Why must it die? Has the "world been saved" then?

Re:Still a hurtle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47607095)

In bigger SW projects involving multiple companies, company boundaries are a real pain.
You can't share all the technical information, even if that would make explaining things easier.
Open source would solve at least this kind of "business friction" issues.

Re:Still a hurtle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47608093)

FTFY:

In bigger SW projects involving multiple companies, company boundaries are a real profit center.

You can't share all the technical information, even if that would make explaining things easier,
or quicker, so you waste time and money playing games that exist for no reason except to
make companies richer..

Open source would not solve these kind of "business friction" issues in the least, it will just
be leveraged to build more of the same closed ecosystems.

Re:Still a hurtle (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#47608133)

Figure that one out, and commercial software will be dead tomorrow.

Why must it die? Has the "world been saved" then?

I didn't say it needed to. I was stating what would factually happen. Like: "If it's 80 degrees out tomorrow, your snowman will melt" Does the snowman need to melt? No... but it's going to happen.

Re:Still a hurtle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47611399)

To quote Michael Clayton, "You're wrong. You're way the fuck wrong."

Re:Still a hurtle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47608151)

Why must it die? Has the "world been saved" then?

Why should commercial software be allowed to live? Has the "world been saved" then?

Why must the "world be saved" -- why can't we kill it?

Re:Still a hurtle (1)

znrt (2424692) | about 3 months ago | (#47608585)

Figure that one out, and commercial software will be dead tomorrow.

Why must it die? Has the "world been saved" then?

dunno, but the moment there is no "commercial" anything, the world will have learned.

Re:Still a hurtle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606943)

I'm a big proponent of open source, but I still have yet to have anything but small victories. I've gotten a few small tools and such approved. But getting executives to "bet" on large, enterprise applications that could sink the company if they go south? Not going to happen yet. As far as they're concerned the softwares maintained by a team of teenagers in their parents basements. They can get binding contracts that state the goals and future of commercial software. We've a lot of evidence that those contracts are rarely abided by, but at least you can sue someone and have a scapegoat when that happens. But with open source, they fear everyone could just up and quit tomorrow leaving them hanging.

I don't have a solution to that perception problem, but it's the single biggest problem I have in selling Open Source to executives. Figure that one out, and commercial software will be dead tomorrow.

As you observed, the problem is that executives only understand contracts and clauses, or put another way they only understand *incentives*. Is there such a thing as an open source for-profit business? Hell no, businesses exist to hoard something scarce (information, talent, raw materials, produced goods, etc) and sell them for a profit while trying to prevent (through secrecy, contracts, etc) others from doing the same and competing with them and squishing out all the profit. Open source is the antithesis of this, and it stands in such contrast because it applies only in the information domain whereas most businesses still work in the information domain and at least one other (raw materials, finished goods, etc) domain. A development model where everyone who wants to work on the same thing just kind of shows up and does this and that??? How do we punish underperformers? How do we tell if a project is behind schedule? Until there is an MBA class called "Open Source and You: how to get geeks to work for free so you can profit" there will be, as you suggest, nothing but toe-dipping in open source.

"We have one that can see..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47612595)

Quoting the film "They LIVE" - & yes, you're right: Which is WHY I said what I did to CharlieMopps, here -> http://news.slashdot.org/comme... [slashdot.org]

(Yes - even though it "hurts me", well - not really, coding IS coding no matter how & where you do it, but it's truth & NOT just "theoretical" but also quite practical!)

APK

P.S.=> Nicest part is since the code's RIGHT THERE, it's more than easily doable & should allow needed change (be it patch or features addition) faster + easier - since there's no "greatest coder" (or greatest anything) - just guys that pore over a process & it's data, understand it thoroughly, & then maintenance it as needed... apk

Re: Still a hurtle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606969)

I think it's a "hurtle" for you figuring out how to use spell check.

Re:Still a hurtle (1)

dbc (135354) | about 3 months ago | (#47607037)

Cygnus approached that in part by being the party selling support on a contract basis. They came in wearing suits, asking for signatures on expensive contracts, and promised to fix the bugs and implement special requirements. You said it yourself, what the execs want is supported software, they really don't give a rat's butt where the software comes from, they just want to know that in the future they can get someone's undivided attention when it needs fixing, and that the party that will fix it has the resources to implement the fix. Cygnus sold attention.

Now, on the darker side, they were known to hold certain trivial ("two-line") patches in their back pocket rather than push them to the open source repository so that they could charge each of their customers $50K to apply the patch to each customer's version of the software. I'm aware of one case where they charged two different divisions of the same company (who clearly didn't talk very much) for the same fix. Cynus was good at the contract game, writing them, selling them, and strategic fulfillment of them.

Re:Still a hurtle (1)

Arker (91948) | about 3 months ago | (#47607087)

The unspoken assumption behind your comment (and much else on the page) is that it's important for 'open source' to be accepted by big business.

Why?

Re:Still a hurtle (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 3 months ago | (#47607947)

The unspoken assumption behind your comment (and much else on the page) is that it's important for 'open source' to be accepted by big business.

Why?

Because some things (for this thesis let's say it's a crypto algorithm) work much better when they are visible to all parties, and those with a vested interest commit themselves via development time instead of cash. If you need a good crypto algorithm and you pay a closed source company for it, either you or the company you paid had better employ an army of mathematicians in order to validate that the process is secure, otherwise it could have (probably does have) a flaw just waiting to be exploited. Your investment, as a business, can only go so far. With an open source solution, everyone can see the algorithm and offer their input on its efficacy.

Open Source is the ultimate economy of scale in the information business (driving cost per unit down while selling/utilizing more) so every business with even a modest investment in software should care. There are plenty of ways to innovate in closed ways (at least, ways proprietary to your company) while taking advantage of open source technologies. The problem (to expand on the original summary) is that most uninformed decision makers jump to the conclusion that if the software was developed for nothing, it's worth nothing and furthermore that anything they do with it will be worth nothing because their innovations will somehow get gobbled up by the open source monster, too. For someone who doesn't really add anything (companies trying to get by in niches, strongarming markets, exploiting cronyism, etc) there is plenty to fear. Meanwhile Google, Apple, Facebook, IBM, Cisco, etc would casually disagree (and gladly sell you some open source software).

Re:Still a hurtle (1)

Arker (91948) | about 3 months ago | (#47608837)

You're telling me why businesses need free software. That's not in question. The question is who needs these big corpos? If they prefer not to adapt then they can die, and why should I mourn them?

Re:Still a hurtle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47612027)

But outside of your fantastical world they *arent* dying, they *dont* need to adapt.

Re:Still a hurtle (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#47608155)

The unspoken assumption behind your comment (and much else on the page) is that it's important for 'open source' to be accepted by big business.

Why?

Because I'm employed by Big buisness and Big buisness would benifit greatly by open source software. Things are different today than they were in the 80s and 90s. Those big contracts with IBM, Sun, Oracle etc... meant something. Now they don't... not even with those same large companies (especially Oracle) what they promise and what they deliver are rarely the same. Alternative companies come and go with the wind. In open source, if someone drops the ball on an app you can pick it up yourself and continue on. Or hire someone to do it for you. I've lost track of the number of large software migrations I've done over the past 10yrs that all started with some vendor closing up shop, ending a product or switching direction.

Re:Still a hurtle (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 3 months ago | (#47607123)

They can get binding contracts that state the goals and future of commercial software.

No they can't at least not across the board. There are plenty of companies that smiply outright won't do that (e.g. Microsoft).

ut with open source, they fear everyone could just up and quit tomorrow leaving them hanging.

As opposed to companies which never go bust.

We've a lot of evidence that those contracts are rarely abided by, but at least you can sue someone and have a scapegoat when that happens.

Well, that's also pointless: very few companies would ever sign a contract which makes them liable for anything but direct costs. A big company with proper lawyers would never ever do that. A small company could probably be cajoled into it, but what's the point? They'd basically fold about 15 seconds after they've maxed out their insurance if sued by a large company.

I don't have a solution to that perception problem, but it's the single biggest problem I have in selling Open Source to executives.

Tell them commercial software has exactly the same problems, because in truth, it does.

If they mention the teenager in the basement thing, ask them if IBM is a teenager in its parent's basement.

Re:Still a hurtle (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 3 months ago | (#47611495)

The real point is this isn't a question of open source vs closed source, plenty of big corps already use open source and they aren't likely to invest in a product of dubious origins regardless of whether that product is open or closed.

Re:Still a hurtle (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 3 months ago | (#47607213)

They can get binding contracts that state the goals and future of commercial software.

Who, pray tell, are those? Anything I've seen of forward looking statements come with at least a full page of legalese saying that anything you see here of roadmaps, features, demos and whatnot may be the lucid ravings of a madman that may or may not be implemented at some undetermined point in the future regardless of any other statements about what, how or when they "think" or "plan" or "intend" to do anything. You can get guarantees of non-specific support and/or development for X years but in practice those promises are so hollow they can outsource it to the lowest bidder on a skeleton crew and still claim to be complying with the letter, if not the spirit of the contract.

Re:Still a hurtle (1)

Parker Lewis (999165) | about 3 months ago | (#47608701)

But your managers already heard of someone that filled a bug in any MS product and get it fixed? But a real case with link to it, not the urban legend "I have a friend that found a bug on IIS and MS fixed it. Who will fix a bug on Apache?".

And, in the other side, your company can, for sure, make contracts with big Open Source guys, like Red Hat and Canonical.

Re:Still a hurtle (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 3 months ago | (#47611301)

I've gotten a few small tools and such approved. But getting executives to "bet" on large, enterprise applications that could sink the company if they go south? Not going to happen yet.

Like what for example? Many large companies use open source products like Linux, Apache webserver, Android devices and there are a lot of studios that use Blender. It isn't a question of open source, it is - like proprietary software - a question of the reputation of the developer(s) and the product.

What you NEED is this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47612581)

I hate to say it actually (since I'm a fan of MS' stuff & it's made me a living), but it's truth, so here goes: Open SORES is just that - the code's there, so, if your tightwad mgt. would just maintain a regular coder or coding staff in-house, you could just alter ANY Open SORES code to your needs!

(Yes, that includes bug fixes, which like *ANY* issue with a staff of competent programmers that've studied the code end-to-end SHOULD be able to solve, since for Pete's sake, the code's RIGHT THERE to do it from - shouldn't take longer than say, waiting out a patch from ANY major vendor of any commercial software actually since it's the SAME PROCESS occurring on BOTH ends... only technically, it *should* be FASTER on your end locally).

* Think about that Charlie...

APK

P.S.=> I'm the last guy that ought to be pointing that out since as I stated @ the outset here that I am a fan of MS' stuff & it's kept me making a living, but that which I just finished stating above? Hey - it's practical + it's doable, NOT JUST THEORETICALLY, & again/yes, truth... apk

Take advice from Tiemann?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606915)

>"Tiemann offers an historical perspective on what makes open source businesses successful, and shares how he dealt with the open source movement's early skeptic"

Cygnus lasted only for 11 years and was not a huge success. We shouldn't take advice from small business owners that didn't do very well. Sure Cygnus survived, but eventually sold out to Red Hat.

Now if you're the guys who originally came up with Android (pre-Google acquisition, as Google didn't create it), I'm listening.

Take advice from Tiemann?? (1)

Stax (13864) | about 3 months ago | (#47607097)

>"Tiemann offers an historical perspective on what makes open source businesses successful, and shares how he dealt with the open source movement's early skeptic"

Cygnus lasted only for 11 years and was not a huge success. We shouldn't take advice from small business owners that didn't do very well. Sure Cygnus survived, but eventually sold out to Red Hat.

Now if you're the guys who originally came up with Android (pre-Google acquisition, as Google didn't create it), I'm listening.

Cygnus developers gave Red Hat talent, insight and control over what was the most important part of the ecosystem for the burgeoning operating system company - the toolchain. GCC was critical in the ability to provide 10 years of API/ABI compatibility and support for enterprise legitimacy.

Without Cygnus, Red Hat Linux would have had a hard time remaking itself into Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Re:Take advice from Tiemann?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47608575)

Isn't getting bought out a success these days?

Re:Take advice from Tiemann?? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 3 months ago | (#47608755)

Cygnus lasted only for 11 years and was not a huge success.

It was acquired for $674 million. That is "huge" compared to my bank account. Cygnus's technical achievements were also enormous: the Gnu C++ compiler, big improvements to the gcc optimizer, porting the gcc/gas/gdb toolchain to dozens of architectures, and thousands of improvements to other open source utilities. They also had a huge influence on the FLOSS movement, providing the first example of a thriving profitable company based on open source principles.

Tiemann = Messiah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47607173)

Reading the article was like reading an essay by a Christian about Jesus. Only, it was about a guy who started a business based on Open Source principals. And I love how quotes and analogies with Plato are thrown in there throughout, like I'm supposed to imagine Plato as a member of the open source community who gazes lovingly upon Tiemann.

I should have stopped when I saw where the article was coming from and realized I was about the be proselytized to.

Re:Tiemann = Messiah (1)

Chalnoth (1334923) | about 3 months ago | (#47609987)

Indeed. The tone of the article was seriously grating. Open source is, I think, good for the industry as a whole. It's also good for consumers. But it is not unambiguously good for every individual software company.

I'd really like it if we could get some government regulation to promote more open source software, but saying, "This one guy I know was really really successful using open source!" in no way means that every business will be similarly successful.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?