More OSBC Coverage

So far the OSBC has been interesting. It’s definitely much different than most shows I’ve attended. A much more business focus, with the number of people literally wearing suits at > 40%. For a while, I thought I was probably one of the only “community” type people here. So what were the odds when Jonathan Corbet, LWN executive editor, sat at the same table as me during lunch :)

A few takeaways from the sessions I attended:

Downloads to Dollars: Building a Revenue Stream from Free Product Traction

* People in proprietary companies are very surprised at how much less revenue per commissioned sales rep Open Source companies need. Since leads are pre-qualified in a much better manner (…at near zero cost) and people can actually get your software into production without you, when they do call it’s much easier to convert them to a paid customer. “Cold calls are a thing of the past”
* As Open Source crosses the chasm in a particular industry, being “Open Source” can be less of an advantage in that industry. At that point, being Open Source isn’t enough. You need to compete on features, scalability, ROI and all the other traditional competition points.
* Downloads is not the best statistic for commercial Open Source, but what the “right” statistic is realistically varies widely.
* Finding out how much information to gather and how to segment is absolutely critical, but also very dynamic.

Open Source in the Channel
* Your industry and role (VAR, ISV, vendor,partner, etc.) has a huge impact on your perspective on Open Source.
* Open Source puts much more importance on creating value for your clients. Building relationships becomes critical as up front revenue is not the same as in other models. The subscription model comes into play here.
* The only people that seem to care about patents are lawyers and the press. It’s not something business units seem to care about and none of the Open Source vendors on the panel had lost a major deal because of it. They did indicate that the main driver here was proprietary companies, whose business they were potentially taking, spreading FUD.
* Microsoft is really in a defensive mode. At one point in the panel, Sam Ramji (Microsoft Director of Platform Strategy) interjected from the crowd. While I thought he took the moderators comment out of context, I guess it’s possible that if you weren’t familiar with the facts you may have been confused (she was referring to SCO and not Microsoft), so clarification may well have been called for. The tone, wording and way it was done is what was interesting to me.

More to come later…

–jeremy

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