The Balance of Power

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

30 earlier thoughts


I ended up spending most of the evening working on this, instead of on my PyCon AU talk as I originally planned. When I notice a conflict between what I think I believe (previously free software needs free-as-in-freedom tools), and what I actually do (including using both GitHub's and Atlassian's free-as-in-beer proprietary services for my own hosting needs, backing the OpenShift team's decision to do the same for OpenShift Origin in order to lower the barrier to contribution for users, and acknowledging the use of various proprietary tools and services as a reasonable away to address various business requirements at Red Hat when the existing open source options are manifestly inadequate, and investing directly in improving them ourselves isn't a reasonable course of action, since we need the problems solved now, rather than at some point in the future when the open source version has caught up), it's hard for me to let the question go until I've figured out the source of the discrepancy.

A colleague made a comment to me recently along the lines of "The licensing fees for vendor product <x> are almost as much as it would cost us to hire a whole extra developer!". Hearing that kind of comment is why I think companies are right to be worried about people not understanding what "value for money" means in this context. Not only did a colleague make that comment to me, but it took me a couple of days to realise how precisely backwards it is.

Here's a different, and I think far more reasonable, way of looking at those licensing fees: "For less than the cost of even one developer, we get to benefit from the accumulated knowledge of a development team that spends their entire time thinking about these issues, whereas for us, it's merely a distraction from our main goal of helping the rest of Red Hat deliver high quality software to our subscribers".

13 later thoughts