Open Sourcing Enabling Technologies as Business

Locally born IT companies here in Singapore generally does System-Integrator (SI) jobs.. hire programmers, hire sales, pitch for (govt?) projects, get clients to sign-off, do projects, haggle over signed specs, finish up the project and put them up as trophy to pitch for another project…. Some better ones build their product line at the same time too…

Its my suspicion that this trend is born out of tradition.. familiarity, rather than long run benefits. "Its been done before, it works and our company is surviving"… "Everyone does it this way, I’m even doing it cheaper/faster/better (pick any 2)"…

I’ll not look at yet-another-non-descript SI small shops with no real software asset (read: product) and basically sweeps any project there is in market.. I’ll want to talk about local companies with products, a (humbly speaking: potentially) good one that is. Furthermore, a product that targets developers - a platform - an enabling technology that helps developers develop better.

I’m a technie and I’ll continue to see business models from my ignorant, utopian point of view until convinced otherwise.

Why open source a company’s core product? Doing SI jobs with our own product helps our product to grow (with real-world deployments and user/developer feedback) and gets it deployed in major (given the clients are big names) businesses as well. Doing SI jobs gives us money back to do more SI and have more improvements.

Correct. But why not do it faster?

Open sourcing the product spreads the concept behind the product far, and wide (to what extend, depends on effort and open source PR). Giving it away empowers other people to do their applications faster (its an enabling technology), better (the product is well thought out and robust) and now… cheaper (its free!). Developers can tinker, develop with the product.. developers or companies can use it to develop their product and in turn, sell it to their clients.. So, not only does the number of people doing SI jobs with the product grow exponentially, the sales team selling the product capability grows with it too..

What’s in it for us? More hands. Working with the product and using it. More potential fixes,.. but to me the most exciting part is more features, platforms and language support!

Show me the money!! - how does our sales close future SI projects? Won’t clients run off with other SI using -cough- our own product?? MySQL seem to have that reconciled pretty well with dual licensing.. and I won’t go into debate on how that’ll not work for our asian market here, argue with Mr Goh, since he told us to think ourselves as global citizens..

Question, do you believe what your product is good? good enough? will ever be good enough? good enough in time? in time for what? in time before somebody else, with more resources than you, think that your product is good… so good that they’d want to do a better alternative and sell too. What then? Won’t clients run off with other SI using -cough- this other better product??

Not a taking a swipe at MS here, but what’s there to stop them or anyone else from throwing resources at a good idea and flooding the market with 99cents product, again? Think BizTalk, IE and MS Word. If you believe humbly its too flattering to assume anyone else will see your product as attractive enough to do so.. then i’ll despise you even more for selling stuffs you don’t even believe in (read: snake-oil).

[This one is for the humble asians] But its not good enough to be seen by the world yet.. Hey, checkout Linux when it was born. For that matter, check yourself out.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose - Jim Elliot