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Culture

The bad old days of software

Software used to be about the vendor. It's increasingly about the customer.

The other day I was driving with my five-year old daughter, Greta. Out of the blue she asked me,

Dad, do you know what the olden days were like?

Surprised, I responded, "No," to which she replied,

Sadness.

She went on to suggest that the "olden days" were sad because everyone was poor, among other reasons. We talked about how life gets better when good laws and good markets are put in place.

It made me think about the software industry.

We are at the front end of a revolution in software, a revolution that is seeing control switch back to customers and away from vendors. Control over what they'll buy, and when. Control over how much they'll pay, and whom. Control over the software that increasingly shapes global businesses.

Control that makes them rich, and not rich at anyone else's expense. The only "loser" in this new open-source software world is the gluttonous vendor that has fed at the trough of proprietary licensing for far too long. One look at Red Hat's balance sheet should be enough to dispel the myth that open source makes everyone poor. Rather, it makes everyone rich, together.

We still have a long way to go, but we'll get there. We'll arrive at our destination faster if we stop handicapping ourselves with hybrid models that are weighted toward the vendor. The more customer value we create, the more money we'll make and the more benefits customers will derive.