Sunday, September 17, 2006

Will companies support open source software themselves in the long run?

One other fact i forgot to mention yesterday is that Gartner and IDC agree on one front: customers are going direct to the community to get support and maintenance. IDC suggests that only 21% of the software developers purchased some sort of support or maintenance versus 55% who said no and Gartner confirms in their study that 43% of services required to support Open Source are delivered internally.

Is this going to last? At the beginning stage of a software revolution, whether it was PCs or client server, the traditional approach was "to do it yourself". However, over time, as the supply of services emerged, a shift occured from internally developed system to packaged approach. For instance, most companies had their own internally developed CRM before CRM software became available as a software package. But now, CRM Software delivered on premise or as a service has become the standard

I think we are seeing the same evolution at play here. As people are experimenting, they won't need any help to keep the cost of experimentation down but when it will get serious such as betting part of an infrastructure on an open source product, companies, understanding that support and maintain a software is not part of their core competencies and afraid of the risk of participating actively in a community, will find a partner to perform those functions for them.

Why does it matter? We are at the early days of the open source revolution and as such suppliers should be reasonably confident that the revenue line will grow but also very cautious about when and therefore limit their monthly cash flow spending.

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