doughnuts on a fish hook

Paul Morgan paul.morgan at
Thu Aug 28 22:07:17 UTC 2003

On Thu, 2003-08-28 at 15:35, William Hooper wrote:
> There are some flaws in your reasoning. well as in yours (and mine)...

> Howard Owen said:
> [snip]
> > My point might be
> > better stated
> > thus: "If you can possibly afford to do it, Red Hat, you might consider
> > offering
> > WS for zero dollars, and without support, just now. The strategic
> > situation is
> > such that a stable, low cost desktop platform upon which large support
> > organizations
> > can build very large scale deployments would do two things.
> Most corporations (right or wrong) view no cost as a disadvantage.  When
> asking companies for bids for a contract, it is common practice to throw
> out the highest and lowest, because the high one is trying to make to much
> money and the low one is either cutting corners or not understanding the
> job at hand.

A bid for contract will include multiple items, including some
combination of materials, support, time, and so forth. There may be no
material deliverables, but most companies like to get something
tangible. This could be a turn-key web/file/fill-in-the-blak
server/workstation or a box of software or whatever. In any event, no
bid is free, though it may have some items thrown in at no cost or
lumped together in one price bucket.

Pointedly, I have never seen a COO or CTO throw out a low bid based on
price alone. Competent managers generally include metrics in the
RFP/RFO/RFQ that can be used to qualify bids, and these metrics may even
be slanted so that the COO's preferred bidder has the best shot all the
while appearing and possibly even being reasonably objective. This
tactic effectively transfers the burden of success (i.e., selection) to
the bidders. This is just business and has no special bearing on
software that it doesn't have on any other aspect of the business.

> > First, it
> > would
> > accelerate adoption of Linux on the corporate desktop, a trend that is
> > real and
> > growing.
> Having no support at home isn't that big of a deal.  Having no support in
> a business, with my job on the line if something goes wrong is.  There is
> no way in Hell *I* would do a large scale roll out of an OS without
> support.

In many companies the IS/IT/DP department _is_ the support. These
companies typically pay for a certain amount of training and expect
their technical staff to fill in the blanks. Other companies don't have
in-house expertise and elect to pay somebody local for "normal" support.
Still others use a combination of the two. After all, there will always
be somebody smarter, more experienced, luckier, happier, better golf
player, etc., and that's where paid outside support comes in: it's
simply an avenue for escalating support knowledge. 

In other words, everybody pays for support. The question is, "who gets
what percentage of the pay?" If in-house technical staff is not capable
of accomplishing a large OS rollout on its own, it needs to outsource
this support to the software vendor or local tech service. This is what
the market generally sorts out on a macroscopic level, for better or
worse. Everybody likes choice. You may choose to pay the vendor; others,
the local person(s). 

Many successful vendors get successful by appearing to offer multiple
choices, each of which leads back to the vendor. Microsoft sells TechNet
and MSDN and certifications, all good choices which fill the M$ coffers.
Red Hat has its own excellent training programs, which further its
long-term success.

> > Second, it would ensure that _your_ platform is the most widely
> > adopted
> > Linux desktop OS. This would of course give you enormous opportunities
> > later,
> > and you wouldn't even have to act like Microsoft to realize them."
> As above, low cost doesn't mean widely adopted.  

Yet low cost is a significant factor in widespread adoption. Risk
usually translates in the minds of decision-makers (where a
decision-maker is the person whose management bonus depends on the
perceived "right" decision) into high cost, so the two go hand-in-hand.
Low cost means that more risk is acceptable to the business side of the
company (I'm sorry, I meant "to the manager's bonus prospects").

> You will find out in the
> Linux space, the distro that gets highest regards is the one the person
> administrating it is familiar with.  This can be changed if third party
> requirements exist (i.e. Oracle certs for the Enterprise line).

A more correct statement might be that distro's are regarded based on
the company they keep. A distro that is certified by Oracle, as you
point out, is much more acceptable to a company that needs Oracle. A
company using DB2 will look more favorably on a distro that is favored
by IBM (meaning that the IBM sales partner can make money, too). If a
distro appears in the Wall Street Journal, it gains (or loses depending
on the article) respect instantly. Likewise, if a friend of the CTO/COO
mentions a particular distro in idle conversation, the same effect takes
place. This is somewhat more significant than anything the sysadmin

Paul Morgan <paul.morgan at>

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