Today I sat with Julius B., a SQL guru with Microsoft, and discussed the implications of the OpenSource movement with him. This is an interesting conversation to have with a Microsoft goon, but a good one nonetheless. His take on OpenSource was familiar; that without corporate backing and support, there can be no consistency in scope and support. I will grant him that those are true of being hurdles to the movement, but not necessarily deficiencies. I explained to him that I believe that the OpenSource movement has less to do with the contributing masses having a part in the process, and more to do with a solution-driven approach rather than a capitalistic one. He liked this idea, but did not see any way for OpenSource to be profitable to companies. That, of course, was precisely my point. If money drives your product, then so does competition and market. We all know that the market can make some pretty crazy demands of software and competition is just doing what everyone else is doing. Those two components cannot be the key to creating solutions.
Think of basketball. How silly would it be if the NBA players just glitzed around for the audience and mimicked everything that everyone else was doing…er…basketball is a bad example. But we did lose at the Olympics for this misguided showmanship.
With this change in dynamics for software products, there leaves only a more esoteric field for those people that actually want to make money. Services. Everything in America is based on services now. What’s more, services are contractually granted via subscriptions. How ridiculous is it that you contract yourself to subscriptions for which service could abrubtly cease, however unlikely. You would pay no matter the risk, wouldn’t you?!? So, companies would have to pick up the ball in the services department to intermingle OpenSource software solutions. It would be big business to be an expert in a handful of OpenSource solutions and their underlying architecture and infrastructure. If you want to make money in the future, you’ll need to be innovative and experienced in a breadth of tightly integrated products and technologies. Consultants will once again rule the world!