Cost saving is the wrong argument, but it may work

Scott Mc Nealy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, has been asked by the new Obama administration to prepare a paper about ‘open source’. From what I read on the BBC report, though, he is using a tired losing proposition:

The secret to a more secure and cost effective government is through open source technologies and products.

To me statements like these look too much like a “worn-out dogma” that open source is gratis, costs less, is more secure.’  These arguments have been demolished by plenty of evidence in real life and by academic research. They can easily sink under the fires of the Microsoft, Adobe, IBM and Oracle of the world.

Probably there is a remote chance that the winds of change blowing in Obama’s sails will make Mc Nealy’s and OSI’s arguments float. What do you think?

via BBC NEWS | Technology | Calls for open source government.




  1. Cost saving could (and should) be only one “weapon”. More solid arguments, IMHO, are: (1) reduced vendor lock-in, (2) roadmap visibility, (3) usage of local SME/Enterprises, (4) possibility to integrate with other software…

  2. Carlo: IMO, cost advantage of “open source” is simply a lost argument. If 10 years ago it could be accepted to get the ball rolling, nowadays there is simply too much evidence that FLOSS has no cost advantage. Any argument related to cost can be subverted easily by any professional lobbyist. Local enterprises in the US won’t be a good argument, either, since Oracle and Microsoft are local there πŸ™‚ Integration is not an exclusive of open source, neither is the visible roadmap. That leaves vendor lock-in, which goes hand in hand with open standards.

    But the best argument is the ethical argument of freedom:

    to run: no discrimination of the people,
    to study: better education is a big chunk of Obama’s plan,
    to copy: no barrier to access to information and to technology
    to modify: to better serve the society

    This is a difficult argument to convey to people, it’s not a message for the mass, yet. Work must be done to make freedom in software the next mass concern, like ‘environment’ and ‘green’.