Is Free really Free?

I just read Ed Brill’s blog and while amazed another company has done this I think it is a clear sign that business models are changing and companies like IBM and Microsoft need to adapt.

Ah yes, the pennywise-and-pound-foolish mentality. Here we have a customer who was still running software from 1996 and wondering why it didn’t do what they wanted in 2006. It’s like buying a perfectly good car and believing that one never has to do oil changes, tuneups, or even take it through a car wash occasionally. Oh, and no insurance either — they hadn’t bought a maintenance agreement at any point in that time.

I think Ed makes some valid points but I also think we are going to see companies moving more and more to Open Source and Out Sourced based applications and architectures. The reason is simple, the Open Source applications are slowly catching up to the ubiquitous functionality contained in the pay-for-use applications and outsourcing your IT infrastructure is way cheaper than paying a bunch of IT guys to run the show. So in general, if the candy and value-add contained in the pay-for-use applications is not justified by the cost difference then you will see companies opting for these free solutions. The same goes for IT outsourcing, as long as the results are the same, better or maybe slightly worse but acceptable it will most likely always remain cheaper.

While on the surface the company is being branded as “the penny wise-and-pound-foolish mentality” the company may also only use basic Email! So why pay for a Caddilac Application Architecture like Lotus Notes if you simply want mail? I do find it strange this company chose Web mail, they must have zero off-line requirements.

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