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Re: UserLinux white paper

On Tue, Dec 02, 2003 at 04:52:47PM -0800, Bruce Perens wrote:
> I don't deny that many businesses do have to come to their vendor on 
> bended knee to get support for a new platform. It's important, however, 
> to realize that this does indicate a problem in the customer's 
> relationship with the vendor. Either there's only one solution, or the 
> customer has allowed himself to enter a lock-in situation. The latter is 
> much more likely.

Most end-customers don't bother going to their vendor on bended knee
to get support for a new platform.  That assumes that most customers
want to run machines with a particular OS, and that's simply not true.
Customers do not purchase operating systems/distributions; they
purchase solutions.

So instead, businesses deside that they want to run SAP, or Oracle
Financials, or Ariba, or Peoplesoft, and then they decide which
hardware and OS they want to use that will support their desired
application of choice.  This is why traditionally computer vendors
have to go to ISV's on bended knee.  Once a customer has decided to
adopt Peoplesoft, or Ariba, if Debian or UserLinux or SuSE is not
supported, then those hardware/software/distribution platforms that do
not support the chosen business application will simply be out of

> Group 1 is a large and complicated industry. They are major customers 
> for a number of proprietary application providers. Their business is 
> complicated enough that it is not possible for them to purchase a 
> solution, they must integrate it under the direction of their IS 
> department, using both internal and external resources. They have the 
> economic power to compel their application providers to support the 
> platform of their choice, it is the application provider who must come 
> to them upon bended knee.

Why does Group 1 really care about running under Linux, as opposed to
some other OS?  Is it really about price sensitivity?  If so, it's
surprising because to the extent that they pay $50,000 for Oracle, or
$1,000,000+ for SAP R/3, why should they care about the cost of $1500
for the RedHat or SuSE enterprise version of the distro?  

> Group 2 are ISPs. They do not in general ask for much added value over 
> the Open Source contents of the system, and they are generally 
> self-supporting. They are more interested in quality and cost than ISV 
> support.

To the extent that they are self-supporting, they become economically
irrelevant to a commerical distribution or to a support provider of
UserLinux.  The best that you will get out of these customers are bug
reports, and maybe you can get some of them to become Debian
Developers and work on Debian packages on company time.  So why don't
they just use Debian instead?

I will also note that ISP's are generally not generally regarded as
"enterprise" customers.  So perhaps you are using a somewhat different
definition of "enterprise" than what is traditionally used.

> So, our problem is how to rebalance the vendor-customer relationship for 
> our purposes. Probably the most useful tool is the industry group 
> organization, where a number of similar businesses get together to steer 
> their participation in userlinux, and the group involves their vendors 
> from a position of strength, together, rather than one of weakness, 
> apart. Customer group 1 is confident that this will work for them.

Business who get together can also negotiate better discounts from
today's distribution vendors.  It's already the case that very few
people actually pay list price for commercial distributions....

					- Ted

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