Why open source software means 2500 layoffs
Open source software is not just morally superior in its transparency, it is also economically more efficient because it reduces marketing and development costs.
Sun Microsystems demonstrated the drop in marketing costs through its recent layoffs of 2500 employees. Losing a job is sad, and I wish that none of those 2,500 was fired, but this is one situation in which Sun is reducing headcount from a position of strength rather than because it has lost customers.
Open source software requires fewer marketing staff because much of its marketing is done by customers. Here is an amusing story recounted by Sun’s CEO on his blog of a marketing visit he did to a large client of Sun, shortly after Sun had bought MySQL. Jonathan Schwarz asked if Sun’s customer would like to hear the latest about MySQL:
The CIO responded categorically with “we don’t run MySQL, we run [name withheld to protect the proprietary].” The CISO said, “We can’t just let developers download software off the net, you know, we’ve got regulation and security to worry about.” The CTO smiled. Everyone else appeared to be sitting on their hands. I was going to leave it at that. Thanks for the business.
Until a (diplomatically) assertive Sun sales rep piped up, “Um… no, I connected with a buddy of mine over at MySQL, and had him check – you’ve downloaded MySQL more than 1,300 times in the last twelve months.”
To test out the quality of open source software download and run it. No big demonstration, no expensive marketing visits, no sales presentations that make claims that you only get to test out after you parted with your money.
Just test for yourself if it does what it claims to do. And when it works straight away, you get to work straight away. If the work is really important to you, ask your finance department to pay the open source software vendor for a support contract.
This is a step jump in productivity of the software sales process.