Open Source & Open Standards: Not just Hot Buzzwords

Antenna MastI recently had the phone antenna from my car stolen. This was the second incidence of the exact same part getting stolen from my car!! This piddly little part with very simple looking construction, cost me close to $180 to replace the first time around. Given that I don’t even use a built-in phone in my car, I had to fork this money pretty much for cosmetic reasons (there was a gaping hole at a prominent location on the roof of the car) and to plug-in the hole to prevent rain water from seeping in.

I was hoping to find a more cost-effective solution this time around, but couldn’t. Auto shops basically told me that the part was very specific to the manufacturer of the car. There were no specifications available, and the only solution was to buy the original proprietary part. To make things worse, I couldn’t buy the specific part that I had lost, I had to buy an assembly which had few other things included in it (which resulted in the high $$$). I can see why there is a secondary market for these parts, which makes them an attractive theft target.

IT managers who use a lot of proprietary IT software in their environment, can probably already see the analogies. In many scenarios, managers are forced to pay top dollars for software components that they won’t even deploy in their environment. Just like auto manufacturers, future profitability of proprietary software vendors depends on locking the customers in their proprietary formats and components. E.g. if you use Veritas backup products to write to a tape, the only way to recover from that tape would be to use the corresponding (in most cases, the exact version) product. If you were restoring from the tape seven years from now - you better have the specific version of the product lying around with a valid license or be ready to pay premium price to recover your own data.

While products based on Open Source and Open Standards, almost always come with lower initial cost of acquisition, the greater benefit is achieved over the life cycle of the deployment. Inherent freedom provided by such products enables IT managers to significantly lower the cost of on-going maintenance.

After driving around my car with duct tape pasted on the roof for a few weeks and not finding any cost-effective solution, I forked the $180 again to get a replacement antenna (and all the other parts that I didn’t need). I got the car mechanic to loctite the antenna this time around though.

2 Responses to “Open Source & Open Standards: Not just Hot Buzzwords”

  1. Ken Joy says:

    Linux was lack of marketing, good documentation, the user need a professional product.

  2. jitendra says:

    Great story…and an interesting blog…Looking forward to more interesting stuff from you guys.

    -Jitendra