Subject: Re: HBS meets OS
From: Ben_Tilly@trepp.com
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 1999 16:24:00 -0500


> Here is my experience after having sat in for the first use of the Red
Hat
> case study at the Harvard Business School. Alan was kind enough to invite
> me. I could see the lights turning on --many could see the value but none
> could understand why developers would develop open source. No one saw
> themselves as an open source customer and I thought that was very very
> intersting -- as opposed to thinking OS is anti-business they thought it
> applied to very specific businesses and very specific layers.

Is it possible that we could get copies of the written materials provided?

> All in all I thought by the close of class the discussion was getting quite
> contested and you could tell the students were engaged.
>
:-)

> Several of them came very close to getting it. However, they still had a
> concentration on 'capture' that confused the dicussion sereral times. It is
> interesting how capture and serve have become synonyms in the closed
> software world.

That *is* interesting.  There is a focus in business on dominating a
market.  But there is value to consumers in not being dominated.  It is
interesting to see the clash.

> There was some division in the class as to if Red Hat should
> +  continue as a service model
> + develop proprietary apps
> + close their own version of Linux
> + develop open source apps to expand Linux users
> + get users to subscribe to their upgrade service for all Linux components
> + develop a palm-top version w/some apps and get subscriptions to that
> upgrade service
>
Bob Young gives a very eloquent talk about how when Red Hat was established
they made the concious decision that the business would be based on selling
the value to the customer that goes with full access to the source code,
and how that enabled them to succeed.  When I heard it he did a very good
comparison with the far better funded Caldera.  Does anyone know if that
talk is written down?  If it was, was it included in their reading
materials?

> Suggestions from those who apparently  did not even read the case  but
> spoke anyway
> + Red Hat should make Linux run on regular PC hardware
> + there has never been an open source app
> + develop an install GUI

*chuckle*

> And I laughed out loud at
> + left alone, Gates will release Office for Linux any day now since it
> means more money
> But I really did not mean to

I am amazed that you didn't at least giggle more.
>
> Words not used:
> trust
> reputation

?

> Words used many many times:
> reliability
> market cap (17B or something)
> total cost of computing

:-)

> ALOT of discussion of total cost of computing: support, upgrades, etc. Much
> argument that if Linux brings down _total cost_ then it will dominate the
> market -- this includes the training costs of users. There is a HBS case on
> total cost of Windows but not on total cost of Linux.

Note that the training cost is going to become much more important as Linux
moves to the desktop.  Lotus Notes has long demonstrated that people can
make money selling training for a product.  How is the market for selling
training for free software doing these days?

Cheers,
Ben