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Letters to the editor

What an excellent article! (-:

From:  Leon Brooks <leon-AT-cyberknights.com.au>
To:  Fran Foo <fran.foo-AT-zdnet.com.au>
Subject:  What an excellent article! (-:
Date:  Wed, 21 Apr 2004 10:55:39 +0800
Cc:  Linux Weekly News letters <letters-AT-lwn.net>, Linux Australia <linux-aus-AT-linux.org.au>

From http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/software/0,2000061733,39145388,00.htm
> "The two things Microsoft does not want to hear are open source
> and Linux. Even if a customer isn't interested in investigating
> or deploying Microsoft alternatives, it's a great way to get
> some discounts," said one Sydney-based IT manager.   

OK... squinting between the lines a bit here... "It's harmless, and 
everybody's doing it".

There is no better time to get this message across, since it will incite 
some IT managers who would otherwise have not touched Open Source with 
a barge-pole to toy with it. Because of this some of them will start
seriously considering it for the first time ever, and the number of 
defections at end-of-contract will rise.

This must be terrifying to Microsoft, because Open Source is now 
becoming most popular in precisely those areas where they have the 
widest margins and greatest dominance. The one bastion remaining to 
them is the desktop, OpenOffice.org is making huge inroads there.

Their control has garnered enough cash to operate with zero income for 
about five years, and has also powered attempts to invade and dominate 
new markets. If the cash flow brought by their control dries up with 
that control, they'll be reduced to playing almost fairly with their 
competitors, which will pretty much kill their business model and leave 
them unable to force entry into markets which might have sustained them 
through changes in market conditions.

For now, they seem happy to spend enormous wads of cash to cut a few 
albatrosses off their corporate neck, and they've offered some pretty 
extreme discounts to large customers, so it seems like a good time to 
be demanding better terms of them yourself.

In order to obtain best results, wannabee discount recipients should be 
setting up a few machines with Linux on them (Mandrake Linux is one of 
the easiest to set up, and can be downloaded for no dollars to get 
started without paperwork), and if a conversation is to be held with a 
rep, hold it in the same room as the Linux machines, leave them running 
stuff, and demonstrate some familiarity with what's running on them. It 
will be like negotiating with a werewolf in front of a display of 
silverware. (-:

> "Right now, only very few leading-edge organisations are looking
> at open-source databases," said Barnes, vice president for Meta's
> technology research services in Asia-Pacific.   

I think Michael is fooling himself to some degree. For an obvious 
counterexample, Telstra is already adopting Open Source extensively, 
and they are hardly "leading edge" - they practically define 
conservativism in the IT world.

> For IT professionals, the trick is to cull the "right" information --
> fashion your arguments for IT budgets after solid statistics or case
> studies and not fatuous media reports.

This is sound advice, and Microsoft are your worst enemy here because in 
the absence of convincing studies which are truly independent, they are 
working very hard to blur the line between media reports and forensic 
comparisons. They have a whole area of their website carrying almost 
nothing but carefully orchestrated and paid-for studies of corner cases 
designed to make themselves look good, and the media frequently quote 
from or allude to these and similar studies as if they were fact.

I also enjoyed the irony of seeing "fatuous media reports" condemned in 
a media report. (-:

Cheers; Leon

-- 
http://cyberknights.com.au/     Modern tools; traditional dedication
http://plug.linux.org.au/       Vice President, Perth Linux User Group
http://slpwa.asn.au/            Committee Member, Linux Professionals WA
http://linux.org.au/            Past Committee Member, Linux Australia
http://osia.net.au/             Member, Open Source Industry Association

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