How To Profit From Free/Open Source Software (FOSS)

This writting is inspired by [RANT] that being pointed out by [ANTA]

To begin with, the meaning of profit is not money (though in the ends it counts). Profit is a net gain that you have after doing something painful. In better term, profit is something that you achieve after you sacrifice. No pain, no gain!

Many IT guys/girls out there sprouting bad about FOSS and its gain in the term of competition. They would argue that it lack of common sense and it even have so many choices that it scares people away by having a deep thought of what should be implemented. Yes, the "all I want is to do the job done" argument making FOSS looks like a geek toys than a silver bullet. The only real reason why people would want to move to FOSS is because of legal aspect. They're forced to have a steep learning curve.

But, hey, what if there is other reason that you could have when deciding to move into FOSS solution?

First, we begin with the misconception of asking:

What is your Business Process?

If this is the main question of choosing solution for you, then FOSS lacks behind its proprietary counter. Many proprietary solutions have been tailored to the way of doing common business these days. Furthermore, they have the ability to demonstrate feasible ways of fitting its system with client's business process. So, FOSS would be a screw decision, isn't? To have a system that has no "real" benefactor is scary.

Let's take the question further and make it into the right concept of business (you do want your business sustainable, don't you?):

How far can you change your Business Process?

Or, how can you rationalizing your business process? Can you evolve?

Many didn't know that a software is part of your business process. Yes, let me get it clear for you: software you are using is your business process. Many finds that a particular software can lead to cut down in some of business process to achieve gain. But, what if it also a way to lock down your business into a single business process. Worst, it made you, client/user/buyer, as the slave of a certain vendor?

Let say that you are completely fine with a spreadsheet tool to overcome your needs to do the right thing. In case that you have study recent technology update or new technique of management, you find out that you can study your past to gain certain trend and able to follow. IT persons called that Business Intelligence stuff. How would you move on to the technology? Well, hire another vendor or tell current vendor to upgrade your infrastructure and let them bill you with a rollercoaster.

In fact, many of those documents are archived and never looked back. Even with the same vendor, there would be a compability issue that a vendor would not support an issue long enough.

But, what if you have the FOSS solution to begin with and you have open standarding your documents? There would be someone in the planet that would produce a converter that suits your need. Even if you can't find it, you can find that many software will happily convert open standards into new one. Why? Because everyone can have a verbatim copy of that standard (hey, that's why they are called open)

The way of business change often reflect on how the software doing. Some vendor would not go far for you not because they are arogant or lazy, but just they simply can't do it. Proprietary vendor would lock their software that it can't be devised for other purposes. The political reason to it is about intellectual property, but often it is because the original developer(s) left the band.

Many proprietary softwares also have the difficulty of changing their API (programming methods/procedures) simply because it would break their architecture, protocols, and even ruining a perfect system. Time constraint in development making some of the software are heavily patched. They wouldn't mind for that, it may be a great feature for them, as the term for it is "obfuscating the code/protocol".

Classical example of FOSS apologetic is the scenario when the vendor running out of business. You can't sue a non existence vendor, or can you? But what can they do? What can you do?

So, my dear reader, as the world is progressing to strive FOSS solutions as sane solutions. I will sum this writing to you so you would not bored (I know some country men are lacking to read and research):

  • How often you evaluate your business?
  • In what degree that you would change all/some of your working flow?
  • How do you prospect the future?
  • How valuable your data are?

In those questions, I will assure you that FOSS kick *ss! And for the reason why FOSS can do that is left as an excercise to the reader. (or maybe later if I have the RAJIN meter up again)





  1. there is a single point that you might forget in your analysis: "money value of business".

    It so easy to say and to think that we, as part of an organization, need to evaluate our business process, especially those that need to align with IT. However in corporate culture, and it still being done this way, changing needs a thorough value analysis (in other word: can we monetized our business process, costs and its outcomes?)

    This issue is somewhat I found still difficult to be performed with FOSS. So, if there are readers who eventually also management expert, please help FOSS with this issue so that. Hey, in the end its all about money and value :p

  2. In my experience, they were looking for "guarantee" and "support". And we are not talking only about OS but every software they need.

    For example, a former client (hey.. I am unemployed now :P) prefer Bea Weblogic instead of Tomcat because they can contact Bea people in Singapore. When they hardly got support from Bea, they flirted with IBM.

    I knew IBM had WAS Community Edition but they offered non-open source one. Although, an IBM person said the Community Edition is supported in informal discussion, I never heard the product mentioned in formal meeting. Either IBM was not interested on offering Community Edition or the client wasn't sure about Community Edition, I don't know which one was happened.

    I think, a prospect client need someone to be blamed if something goes wrong.

  3. That's also true what Kunderemp said.
    And trying to find someone to 'blame' is also connected also with investment, you have monetized all of the component.
    Basic idea is, if you cannot quantify what you want to do, its difficult to get support from top management.

  4. whoa...
    i don't think about profit... yet



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