Why enterprise applications stink

Proprietary enterprise applications stink. Don't blame them. They can't help it.

Nick Carr points to an insightful blog post by Khoi Vinh, a developer at The New York Times, in which Vinh effectively argues for open-source enterprise applications, perhaps without knowing it:

This is partly because enterprise software rarely gets critiqued the way even a US$30 piece of shareware will. It doesn't benefit from the rigor of a wide and varied base of users, many of whom will freely offer merciless feedback, goading and demanding it to be better with each new release. Shielded away from the bright scrutiny of the consumer marketplace and beholden only to a relatively small coterie of information technology managers who are concerned primarily with stability, security and the continual justification of their jobs and staffs, enterprise software answers to few actual users. Given that hothouse environment, it's only natural that the result is often very strange.

Unless you make it open source, and then suddenly the possibility (though not the absolute actuality) of quality returns, because you get that rigor back. Yes, really.

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