Craig Muzilla, Red Hat's newly minted vice president of Middleware, may be relatively new to the open-source game, but already he has picked up on its greatest strength. Yes, it is a winning development methodology. Yes, it can enable superior code.
But it's singular strength for a business guy like me is its unparalleled value for the customer and for the vendor in smacking around competitors. Craig notes in a Linux.com interview:
I think very certainly there's tech innovation, but I think there's also business innovation, which is trying to find a better way to create software, have more flexibility, and build a business that's both beneficial for the business that we're building as a vendor, and beneficial for the customers. People talk about tech disruption...
...but at the end of the day this is really business disruption and it's a model of business. I've been in the software industry over 20 years and what's cool for me is the business mode is so much radically different than what anyone has ever done. It has benefits for customers, benefits for us, it's very fascinating.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Open source is a "ground up" (to continue to employ Muzilla's words) sales phenomenon. It's a way of "leaking" into a company until the software is so pervasive that an enterprise CIO has no alternative but to buy. It's not too dissimilar from how Microsoft has long pushed its products into enterprises...
...except that it doesn't rely on monopoly, illegal tying, etc.
The rest of the interview is great, too. Muzilla talks about the JBoss strategy and how open source enables Red Hat's business. But for me, the most salient point of all is the recognition that open source is simply a better way to do business.