Open World Consortia Says You Need an Attitude Adjustment on Enterprise Software

Dennis Byron

Another European-Union (EU)-based front group is out this week with the latest in a long string of EU-centric Open-World/Open-Standard/Open-Interface/Open-you-pick-it proposals that abuse the open source software culture and philosophy as part of a campaign to tilt IT market competition in favor of EU-based IT suppliers.

It's called the 2020 FLOSS Roadmap, FLOSS being a Europeanized acronym for open source software (OSS). The document (which the group calls a manifesto-no kidding) is an amalgam of overlapping recommendations about cloud computing, patent law, educational philosophy, IT lifecycle management, business processes, operating system technologies such as Linux -- you name it.

The document's recommendations/predictions can be divided roughly into two categories:

  • Activity/results that will/should happen in IT anyway between now and 2020 and really need no government intervention (even if you believe in government intervention, which I don't) and have no particular relationship to open source software
  • Activity/results that might have disturbing, unintended consequences between now and 2020 should enough governments around the world buy into the manifesto (which I doubt will happen)

The recommendations/predictions remind me of the 1930s when analysts similar to the academics who apparently wrote this document recommended/predicted the many ways that television would be an educational rather than entertainment phenomenon.

 

I rant about the investment-related implications of this over on my IT Investment Research Web site, but there are strong implications for IT management and staff as well if my opinion (i.e., that governments have more important things on their mind) is wrong. The reason the manifesto might matter to you over the next decade is because many of your favorite enterprise software suppliers are behind the front group. They include Bull, Google, IBM, Red Hat, Sun and others.

 

Here's just one example. The front group recommends governments:

"Establish the right to interoperability, including the right to reverse engineering, a definition of open standards and an obligation of non-commercial cooperation for interoperability for all software publishers."

That sounds nice, but an unintended consequence is that you might not be able to acquire products or services in cost-effective bundles, one of the proven methods of lowering IT costs (even if over the decades, IBM, Microsoft and now apparently Google have run afoul of the mishmash of inconsistent legalities related to bundling in some geographies). Like all good propaganda, the front group tries to turn reality around and says bundling raises the prices you pay. But we have decades of proof that this is not true (even most illegal bundling - whatever that meant in that jurisdiction that year - has rarely raised the cost of IT to you).

 

Another unintended consequence of the movement against bundling over the 1995-2005 decade is a slowing of research and development investment by major IT suppliers, replaced by the merger/acquisition mentality exhibited by IBM, Oracle and others.


 

And here's another of the dozens of the document's recommendations:

"Enterprises' attitudes towards FLOSS must change, from a pillage approach to a collaborative participation. Up to now, enterprises too often rely on FLOSS components without giving back to the communities. A change of attitude is necessary to set up a virtuous circle between code producers and users. The level of maturity of a company towards FLOSS should evolve from simple consumer to participant, contributor and finally sponsor. The ultimate level for a company will depend on their FLOSS governance and if it makes business sense to do so."

I would contend that the basic premise is not correct (i.e., that you are pillaging anything). But even if true, are you ready for the government to dictate an attitudinal adjustment to you so that you become more "virtuous?"

 

The manifesto is full of such recommendations to make you a better person.



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