Subject: Re: Wal-mart drives software industry
From: Tom Lord <>
Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 13:26:42 -0800 (PST)


       The point of the article, which I highlighted in my introduction, is
       that you _don't need_ such a "common forum of discourse".  Wal-mart
       alone is a driver; get them to move in a direction favourable to you,
       and the rest must follow.

Purchasing decisions by Walmart are a major market driver (to the
extent the quoted article is correct) -- but what drives those
purchasing decisions?

Sure, they're made with certain business goals but at anything beyond
a simple tactical level those decisions are harder than chess and lots
of input from related perspectives is a good way to approach them.  As
a Walmart, if you're making a strategic software-related decision,
you'd like to have some confidence that your decision is being noted
and complemented by other strategic decisions at, for example,
software suppliers.

In the case of big IT, these days, the relevant perspectives are from
all over the map -- hence my (somewhat iconic) list of companies and
suggestion for a forum of discourse.  (Surely such forums already
exist in forms such as low circulation publications, elite trade
conferences, rolodexes, periodic sales visits, etc. -- the question is
can we put together one that isn't owned by a particular FSB and
that's focussed on the contributions that can be made by Free Software
and open source processes.).

	A "dialogue" is the wrong place to start.  It's like the OSI
	protocols.  Big business runs more like the IETF (rough
	consensus and running code).  And yes, with politics and
	fashion too, of course.

	Wal-mart is hard for a small FSB.  As I said, only IBM and Red
	Hat are likely to have any entré (which is not the same as
	success, only a necessary precondition).

I like the analogy.  Don't omit the working group and formal document
track aspects of IETF.  It isn't just a bunch of geeks standing around
counting how many people nod their heads vs. how many shake them side
to side.

I am increasingly of the opinion that a lot of open source planning
and development should be guided by a IETF-like process involving
engineers, FSBs, and customers and the companies you mention are two
out of a very short list of organizations in a good position to get
the ball rolling.