Friday, September 10, 2004

Yes people still pay for software

Here are my comments in regard to Bob Smith's blog today at:

Bob claims that if you are an open source fanatic like Richard Stallman then you might as well switch careers because writing all that free software gets you nothing in return.

Bob, take a look at the landscape of open source projects and you should notice that they mostly framework, library type projects. It's very rare to see a complete custom solution to an actual business need. The reason for this is the inherent complexity of writing some generic enough that can satisfy most organization's needs. So what you get instead is people writing class library type stuff or frameworks. Remember back in the 90's when you had software vendors like Rogue Wave who became successful writing libraries such as Math++, etc? Open source has killed that whole cottage industry because the requirements are easy to gather and it's generic enough that it will have broad use.

So take comfort in the fact that Open Source isn't going to force you to into a career change midway through your professional career.

It's the offshore labour that is going to put you out of a job. So yes, people still pay for software....they just pay alot less than before.


Anonymous said...

Not quite true.

Open source projects exist for almost all major areas in IT.

Database servers
Application servers
Office products (Word processors, spread sheets, etc...)
Operating systems (duh)
Point of sale systems (Pretty specialized right?)
Web portals
Imaging processing toolkits

Also, free software makes offshoring much more feasible because of the cheap startup cost. I'm not against free software entirely, but you also need to look at the facts. The landscape is changing fast. The stock of software developers is falling just as fast. Many are in fact coding themselves out of a job.

Out sourcing is a threat I agree, but Open Source is only speeding the rate at which cost effective outsourcing can be achieved.

Wayland Chan said...

Office suites, database servers, mail servers, web servers and all that crap are used within organizations and have all been done in OS but those are not the applications I'm talking about. Not many companies use straight off the shelf stuff, most require customizations (and I'm not talking about dipshit programs like winzip). While DB, appserver, web server and stuff are all evident within a company it's the 'applications' that use those that are not being covered in the open source world. Hardly any of the examples you cited have 'business logic' in them.

The desktop application that traders input trades into, the application the bank teller uses to manage your accounts, the system your travel agent uses to book your flight. They are all examples of applications that will have a long life and co-exist with OS. It's the possibility that this work is outsourced to developing countries that worries me.

Anonymous said...

Those types of applications can easily be outsourced to countries where labor is cheap and now so is software.

So the software most people have been willing to pay for over the years is now all free because of open source. I fail to see how you can find anything positive from that.