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OSS by itself will never be a razor

By John | August 6, 2007

I was reading Matt Asay’s Thinking about the iPod as a razor, not a blade this morning and it reminded me of a conversation I had about two years ago with a friend of mine. 

When ever I get a great idea I bounce it off my four mentors (my wife, a sales guy, an eng vp, and a marketing guy).  The marketing guy is not an IT guy.  He is an Madison avenue marketing guy.  About two years ago I was looking at this OSS thing as the next big thing.  I told my marketing mentor about my idea and the first thing he asked was “what problem does it solve”.  I tried to explain how it solves the big over priced proprietary software problem.  Then he asked me if my customers were complaining about price.  No, but they should be I said.  What he convinced me was not to get into OSS just because it’s OSS.  However, if you find something in OSS that solves a specific customer problem then OSS may help your marketing efforts. If you find that something, and depending on how big a problem it is, price or any trend-marketing should not close the deal.  

The iPod is a razor because it solved a problem and not because it was just another device swirling around in a digital music tsunami. In my ESM space the question is, can OSS solve a problem that has been open for thirty years that still really hasn’t been solved.  Can ESM improve the bottom line?  In fact the only difference between my marketing friend and a VC’s is that my marketing friend says if you can create an ESM tool that works with only one button then you will get my attention.  The VC expects that you tell them you already have one.  Therefore the real question for all OSS startups is why are you here?  Are you here because you think you can make a cheaper version of a propriety solution or are you here because you have solved a problem no one else has been able to solve?

 

Topics: OSS, apple, caos, esm, groundwork, groundworkopensource, hp, hyperic, ibm, nagios, netcool, opennms, opensource, tivoli, zabbix, zenoss | No Comments »

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