The Balance of Power

44 thoughts
last posted Dec. 8, 2015, 3 a.m.

26 earlier thoughts


The other aspect is that I think both companies do amazing work, and have done a lot of good in supporting the open source community, and I want to be an unabashed fan of their efforts.

However, I can't be an unreserved advocate for any company that reserves the right to screw over its customers under the law, and that's exactly what proprietary software licensing is designed to do: it relies on the full coercive power of the government as an incentive for customers to keep paying their license fees if they want to continue using the software they already have installed. See Atlassian's EULA for an example of this - that's one of the most customer friendly proprietary EULAs you're going to find on the planet, but it still deliberately enforces a "single provider" model in order to inflate the switching costs for migration to any alternate solution.

By contrast, a customer that decides a Red Hat subscription isn't providing them with value for money will usually be able to keep using that software under the open source licensing terms, even after they decide to stop paying us. The fact we can't rely on prohibitive switching costs keeping our customers locked in to our software is one hell of an incentive for us to ensure our customers are happy with the ongoing services we're offering (and it's a credit to our sales, support and other service divisions, as well as the Red Hat Customer Portal developers, that so many of our customers do renew their subscriptions, and even increase them). We've made it incredibly easy for them to walk away from us, and they stay anyway.

17 later thoughts