Subject: Re: Returns to service professionals (was Re: New ESR paper: The Magic Cauldron)
From: Keith Bostic <bostic@abyssinian.sleepycat.com>
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1999 12:49:16 -0400 (EDT)

> From: "Tim O'Reilly" <tim@oreilly.com>
>
> What bothers me is that because these companies don't distribute
> software, but instead provide services, they don't think about
> how to keep the ecosystem healthy, and how dependent they are on
> the open source community for the platform they've built on.
>
> After all, Yahoo, Amazon, and even AOL (which I believe runs a
> much-hacked version of sendmail somewhere down deep) have
> critical parts of their infrastructure on Open Source.  Yahoo is
> very largely open source; Amazon has told me about 70% of the
> software they use is OS.
>
> So one of the challenges is to get these people to participate
> more in the OSS community.
>
> Unfortunately, this doesn't just mean "give some patches back to
> Apache or Perl", it really means "open source some of your
> applications."  Where is the  Open Source e-commerce shopping
> cart, or affiliates program?
>
> I fear that these companies consider their applications as their
> competitive advantage.

We approached a very large company that uses Berkeley DB for
lots of things, asking them not for money, but just to use
them as a reference.  Here's what they told us:

    We certainly appreciate all the work you guys have put into your
    Berkeley DB software, and we do indeed use it internally in quite
    a number of areas.  I think we'd be open to talking to you about
    how we use it in general, but only in the context of giving you
    some product feedback and perhaps guiding your future development.
    We are extremely tight-lipped about which technologies/software
    we use and how we use them, due to the fact that we'd rather not
    "enable" our competitors and give them a blueprint for building
    successful e-commerce platforms.

--keith