Sunday, November 4, 2007

Did I mention it was free?

The other day I went back to Las Vegas for the NICSA Technology Summit 2007. Man, I guess I was invited there to give some kind of speech about Information Technologies, or something like that. The thing is that I made a mistake and used the speech I had prepared for the CEC event, only for Sun Engineers, a few weeks before... so, once I had said that software was free about three or four times, I couldn't step back, and I had to go on with this.
Anyhow, I heard that Jonathan is quite happy to see that I finally adopted Sun's policies, and it seems that this is one of the most important things we are embracing. No, it is not creating valuable IP, or expensive software or hardware, but giving the software for free.

By the way, did I mention it was free?

Well, so, now that I said it is free, I asked Jonathan to help me defending such an statement, so he gave me some hints apart from the fact that we indemnify and protect our users against any legal action that may be issued by the fact they are using our open source technology (I don't know why are we doing this without charging our customers for that; in the automobile industry this things doesn't happen...).

So, the main reasons are:

1. Lowering the barriers to entry (well, this is obvious... but I cannot see the benefit in here; RedHat is somehow free, and they don't make even half of the revenue we have with our proprietary stuff...).

2. Open drives interoperability, as a greater community of developers will adopt our stuff and make it easier for interoperability (well, apparently our friend Jobso didn't heard about that, as they are not using Java in their iPhraud neither their new Leopold!! Well, as Jobso says, namaste).

3. Open lowers the cost of R&D (yep, it is true... or well, it makes sense, as long as you have a community developing software for free that you can sell later... but the thing is, how you make those frigtards to develop new and cute products for you for free? The answer is that finally you have to pay most of the "community programmers", so they can finally build a real community, 'cause otherwise they end up doing their own applications and not the Sun applications we want to sell to the customers. Not to mention the hardware stuff, that we also made free: not many mentally sane people are going to make improvements _for_free_ in our T1 chips. And then there is the quality assurance, as you cannot provide support nor sell a code that you are not sure that doesn't contain any IP belonging to other company or violating any patent. And then you have to freeze the versions to provide appropriate support, as to provide real support for a open source code you need to hire an army of programmers and the become IBM Global Services... well, maybe it is not so easy to see the lowering in costs so easily.. ).

4. Open is secure. And although this is a counterintuitive statement, nobody can think of a Java virus so far (I don't know if this statement makes sense, but Jonathan told me to say that. Did I mention it was free?).

5. Open lowers the barriers to exit. Wait, wait, wait: I'm not supposed to say that to customers... Well, I can tell them the usual story of "we are using standards so you can choose technology from other providers", but we know we don't really mean it, do we?

Well, the people at the conference were so shocked that they didn't make many questions at last. But Jonathan, you have to help me because next week we have our annual stockholder meeting, and I'm afraid they'll ask just one silly question: Sun is not a services company, as IBM, to make profit from open source products. So, how are we going to make money by giving all our staff (not only the old-fashioned products everybody can download because there are hundreds of similar clones that do the same job -example: Web Server vs. Apache- also the new very valuable products nobody has so far) for free???

And then I'll have to respond to all our sales people in the software branch asking for their bonuses... and for their jobs...

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