Doesn't Matt Asay want Open Source integrators to earn a living ?

Or, why the Inuits won't partner on selling Ice from Alfresco unless they change their strategy.

I usually agree with lot of the things Matt Asay writes but today in Closing an open-source deal trough your systems integrator , he thinks the way to work with partners in an opensource environment is to force them to sell the commercial solutions of your products.
He also thinks you should block them from starting an implementation before the end customer has signed a purchase order.

Whew.. this must be the most stupid idea he had since he started his opensource career. The sad part is that I haven't seen a commercially backer of an opensource project dealing correctly with its contributing partners. He isn't solving the problem , he is creating a bigger one :(

Integrators and consultants are often the bigger contributors to a project because they are integrating new features for their customers, You know, their local , we speak your language , customers. So now Matt wants to force them not to sell services around GPL software anymore but sell the commercial versions ?

As lots of commercial opensource versions do not allow you to make changes to the code if you don't want to loose support your hands are tied again. And yes I have been in this situation before multiple times, a situation where , a commercially backed opensource project, required a couple of small changes to fit with a customer, because of these changes the commercial vendor would drop support , so the customer decided not to buy the license. Should a local integrator capable of helping such customer loose that deal because of a partnership ? Off course not .. It's perfectly understandable that a software vendor can't support every different patch. Shouldn't an integrator have the freedom to assist a customer in making these choices, and give him valuable advise ?

Forcing the integrator to sell the commercial version brings them back to the proprietary software vendor situation , where they couldn't solve issues either.

Mind this is a Category "C" user ,(an organization that has more money than time), which should be an easy win for the commercial opensource vendors.

Then there is the issue of Paying twice where a customer both pays for the time the integrator spends on solving his issue and the support contract. I`m stil looking for a solution for this one.

In the past we invested in different partnerships , some requiring certification, with different Open source vendors before, never got a dime back from these investments.

While our shop was a small but specialist expert knowledge center most deals that those other vendors had in our area went to the incompetent boxmovers that did volume, often totally screwing up the actual implementation. Whether we had contributed to the project, or in the case of Linux distributions were probably equally skilled to support the environment as the vendor itself didn't matter.
We didn't sell enough boxes , so we never got any deals back. Our business is advising people on how to implement open source , implement it for them and support them. We are working with both type A,B and C customers. But the commercial opensource vendors want to force us to go back to the old proprietary boxmoving model, sell licenses, don't sell solutions, Oh and No you can't fix that .. you'll have to wait for the next commercial release or lose support.

So how many of the opensource benefits should the customer give up ?

No Matt, this time your idea stinks,

This way skilled consultants that care about open source and contribute to the community are being punished for doing so, whereas they should actually be getting business back from the vendors, so they can earn money and contribute more on your product you force them to waste more time on the sales side. While the people that just move boxes, don't care if its an open source application or a proprietary package gain more. For them its just business as usual .. selling boxen.

It just doesn't make sense

This concept is just bad for opensource in general, motivated people will stop contributing to products they implement, as they see that their efforts aren't appreciated by the vendors.


Matt Asay's picture

#1 Matt Asay : Of course I want integrators to make a living, Kris

...which is precisely what I was talking about. Our SIs make a grundle of money, as do those who choose not to work directly with us and instead deploy Alfresco Community. We have 25,000 active deployments of Alfresco Community, many of which were done by SIs. So, where is the money that the SIs aren't making? Oh, that's right: In their pockets, where it belongs.

I fail to see why this is even remotely controversial or even mildly interesting. It's just a way for us to establish a virtual cycle of trust with a select group of SIs, something that is absolutely critical for a software business to thrive.

It's good for open source (in general and in specific). It's good for SIs. It's good for vendors. In short, it's a good idea, which is precisely why those companies above are doing it.

Mikkel Høgh's picture

#2 Mikkel Høgh : Clueless reporting 2.0

I think this one really takes the cake:
"…think Basecamp (an application written to exploit 37Signals' Ruby)."

I think IT journalism has a lot of people who wanted to be in IT, but lacked the talent. Basically, there are those who do and those who blather endlessly about it…

Jay Pipes's picture

#3 Jay Pipes : Couldn't agree with you more...

unfortunately, this is *precisely* what MySQL is doing with their partners.

Kris Buytaert's picture

#4 Kris Buytaert : No names

Didn't name the companies in the post.. but as you took the hint. it's too sad that all of them are exactly doing that .. Suse (Novell) , RedHat , MySQL and also Xensource back in the days.

Add to that that RedHat thinks you sell more Suse and Suse thinks you sell too much RedHat.
So they try force you into working exclusively for them. While in realilty you are implementing Centos and Debian all over the place. But still you have with no doubt the best qualified tech staff to implement their products :(