If Open Source Support Is Your Business...

Lora Bentley

You probably need to check out the latest research from The 451 Group's open source practice. The study found the theory that customers want a "single throat to choke" when it comes to open source support is not supported by the evidence. That makes us wonder if it's hype promulgated by those who earn their keep by offering such support.

Only a minority of customers are really interested in a single support provider, according to Raven Zachary, who heads the analyst firm's open source practice. The 451 Group predicts that customers will increasingly look to their operating system vendors or application providers for that support. They may be on to something, since big players like IBM and HP are intent on increasing their open source support offerings.

Further, the study also found that large enterprises will move toward hiring their own open source experts and handling support efforts internally rather than looking to an outside vendor.

Maybe the success of companies like SpikeSource is more short-lived than we thought.

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Aug 24, 2006 5:43 AM Raven Zachary Raven Zachary  says:
Hi Lora - thanks for posting this article. Just to clarify, I do not believe (nor does the report state) that "single throat to choke" is hype promulgated by those who earn their keep by offering such support."Single throat to choke" is often a major issue from companies with little to no experience implementing open source. They want accountability, and having a single vendor to provide this is a convenient concept. However, when you dig deeper, the issue really comes down to support, and if a company can build an excellent support infrastructure by mixing and matching a variety of approaches - vendor relationships, internal champions, and external experts, this approach works in most cases. Where you see "single throat to choke" being of greatest value is within specific verticals, such as IT organizations with strong levels of IT governance. When you look at the business model shifts of the core stack providers, such as SpikeSource, OpenLogic, and SourceLabs, you'll see that they are refining their customer focus based on where they see the greatest demand for their products and services. Reply
Aug 25, 2006 3:18 AM Raven Zachary Raven Zachary  says:
Lora - many thanks for your prompt reply! Reply
Aug 25, 2006 8:19 AM Lora Bentley Lora Bentley  says:
Thanks for the clarification.� Reply
Sep 8, 2006 12:46 PM Shonge Shonge  says:
As a small business owner, the support issues I am faced with are not just the type that a "spikesource" offers regarding certified software. I need support for my open source applications that include their hosting, configuration, integration, backups, patches, monitoring, etc. All the things that my network guy is either too busy to do or does not know how to do. There are companies like Appitas (www.appitas.com) that are stepping up to provide the support delivered by a Spikesource or Akibia plus the IT stuff I mentioned above. Oh, and I want the applications to be opensource (not SaaS) so if I want to bring the app in-house, I can. This type of service is not new - other companies have been offering them for years around closed-source. However now with opensource the economics finally make sense.  Reply

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