James Dixon’s Blog

James Dixon’s thoughts on commercial open source and open source business intelligence

Archive for September 2009

The acquisition and exit costs of open source are not ‘zero’

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Michael Tiemann on a blog at opensource.org wrote yesterday about his presentation at the upcoming Open Forum World in Paris.


In this post he talks about the acquisition and exit costs of public procurement processes. In parts he seems to be indicating that the acquisition and exit costs of open source are zero or close to. These statements falls into the ‘free as in beer’ trap.

The acquisition costs of open source software are often be perceived to be higher than with proprietary software. This is because proprietary software companies have squads of pre-sales engineers who they will deploy to provide ‘free’ support and services to a prospective customer. Of course these services are not really free because the pre-sales costs are built into the proprietary license fee. Government software procurement processes are particularly bad at perpetuating this situation because they expect a lot of vendor participation during the process.

The exit costs of open source systems are not zero either. It it true that it might sometimes be easier to get your data out of an open system but most proprietary vendors have migration tools to help move data into their system from a competitors – and of course pre-sales engineers to help out.

I agree that public procurement processes are not ideal. I have blogged about this in the past:

Changes to procurement processes definitely would be beneficial, but in order to achieve this we need to provide compelling evidence and arguments that are rational, balanced, and complete. Personally I feel that much of Michale’s post is written in a way that does not produce this effect.

p.s. if anyone are opensource.org is reading this, your commenting system is broken. When I tried to comment about this post I got a JSON string when I hit the submit button.


Written by James

September 29, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Posted in open source

Microstrategy and Panorama showing signs of stress from open source

with one comment

A while back Red Hat did a great video called ‘Truth Happens’ based on this Mohandas Gandhi quote

First they ignore you…

Then they laugh at you…

Then they fight you…

Then you win…

The video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjSDAUykkzQ


Earlier this year MicroStrategy released a ‘free’ reporting edition. At the time BI commentators such as Cindi Howson did not see this as a strategy against open source – despite the fact that in the database and middle-ware space Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle all used this ploy. Now, it seems, MicroStrategy is contacting community members and bloggers in the open source BI space to ‘push’ their free offering.


This indicates to me that their ‘free’ edition is, at least in part, an anti-open source gambit. This puts MicroStrategy in the ‘then they fight you…’ stage. Only one more stage to go MicroStrategy. We’re cheering for you…

Panorama Software

Further behind Microstrategy in the progression is Panorama. They seem to be moving from the ‘First they ignore you…’ to the ‘then they laugh at you…’ stage – judging from this post on their site:


I particularly like this quote:

Well, advocates for political correctness will be happy to hear that cloud is chasing open source out the window, especially in the BI space.

This is amusing because, to my knowledge, the only BI companies to go under this year have been, wait for it…, SaaS BI providers – not open source BI companies or on-premise BI companies. First Lucidera and, this week, Blink Logic. To quote Captain Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean:

Think you can outrun the world? You know the problem with being the last of anything, by and by there be none left at all.

So Panorama seems to be firmly in the second stage, with two more to go. Keep going Panorama, maybe you can catch up with MicroStrategy. We’re cheering for you…

Written by James

September 24, 2009 at 10:11 pm