Sunday, April 20, 2008

The future of open-source infrastructure is...applications?

It occurred to me today that open-source infrastructure providers (e.g., commercial providers of open-source operating systems, databases, application servers, etc.) may have much in common with telecommunications infrastructure providers (like cable, wireless, etc. providers).

Everyone uses their stuff, and generally at a rate that doesn't quite match the value of the benefits derived from it.

Early on we pay a premium for broadband Internet or support for still-buggy but cheaper open-source software. Over time it becomes commodified and our willingness to pay decreases.

What's a company to do?

In the wireless world, Sun is telling its telecommunications customers to look to applications to drive revenue growth. It's very possible that this same advice applies to open-source infrastructure providers.

Maybe Canonical will never make much money from Ubuntu. Perhaps Ubuntu becomes the cloud platform on which Canonical enables all sorts of value-added services?

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