D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

ALT.NET - Microsoft V1 vs. Mature Open Source

Saturday, April 19, 2008 6:02 PM

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We had a great discussion in the first session of the day. Oren, Chad, Scott Gu, and Brad Abrams all chimed in as well as many others in the audience.

The biggest items that seemed to keep coming up is justifying using open source to the business, arguing against the perceived risk, and educating the masses on the tools available and what they help solve. All three of these, I think, are related.

Justifying open source, even the mature tools, can be difficult when coming up against Microsoft V1 offerings for the difference in name alone: business is more comfortable saying 'We use Microsoft' then saying 'We use Open Source'. This is probably because of sterotyping that has gone on in business, but it also can be tied to perceived risk and risk aversion.

Risk aversion was a huge paint point that many were coming up to. Even though many of the open source tools are definately at a 'mature' point in their lifecycle, that doesn't matter when incorporating the business's attitude on open source and the "perceived" risks involved. Risks could be:

'What if the group working on the open source code stops and we have no support?'

'What about legal issues with using or bundling outputs from open source within our product?'

'What if <insert risk aversion here>'

All these risks are discussable, arguable, and debatable...and I'm sure provable (or disprovable I guess). But no discussion, whether its around justifying open source and arguing stereotypes or identifying and mitigating risks, can happen until we have education.

Right now there's very much a sub-set of developers in the wild who are using open source tools. We need to make sure that we're getting out and interfacing with the community at large and educating them on what the tools can do, their benefits, and what problems they solve. It comes down to us evangelizing these tools to the masses...not just preaching to the choir all the time. Doing presentations at user groups or code camps, doing intro blog posts and web casts, etc. If we can educate, then we can ensure there's better influence.

D




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