[Linux-aus] Chilling effect?

Brent Wallis (IS) brent at wallis.id.au
Wed Feb 25 06:29:04 UTC 2004


Leon Brooks <leon at cyberknights.com.au> wrote ..
> Recently, a denizen of the PLUG mailing list asked the National 
> Australia Bank why they don't support Mozilla. NAB's reply amounted to
> "because it's Open Source" and they have so far refused to explain how
> this has any bearing on their policy.

Hell, I come accross this all the time...

I have found in the past that statements of "denial" about Open Source should be most often interpreted as:

- "My department have invested so much in something else that to admit I was wrong would be tantamount to slashing my wrists in front of the board."
- "Open what?"

One is ego getting in the road and the other is sheer ignorance.
> Yesterday, I had a discussion with a fellow FOSS advocate in which he 
> related to me that three of his customers (one Government department 
> and two over-$100M/a corporations) have recently said, point blank, 
> that they now have a policy of no Open Source at all, and that such 
> Open Source applications and/or operating systems as existed in the 
> company were to be promptly replaced.

This is where most of these fools will get caught... some sooner than later. The banks are a classic case in point. Whilst the NAB may be in denial, it is no secret around town that other banks are not. Despite the so called research out there, you and I know without doubt that FOSS provides a much lower TCO. This lower TCO is fact. Because of this plain truth, sooner or later a big four bank will jump to the fore, announcing to their shareholders that they will save big dollars with their FOSS rollout.

The other big 4 banks that have not done the hard yards when this sort of announcement happens will be stuck with a much higher set of fixed costs. In a competitive world like banking, those that do not do FOSS will be stuck on a much higher cost base. Shareholders will freak out, stocks will fall, the fool in denial gets sacked...etc etc etc.

Of course, if none of the big four do a FOSS rollout there would some excellent fodder for the press (think along the lines of anti competitive behavior)..... and major opportunity for banks at the next level down.

Truth and reality always wins, only sometimes it is a slow process, and sometimes, a few fools get in the road.

I for one am going to enjoy watching a few CIOs try getting out of "jail" in a couple of years when they are pushed by market forces to remove their IT monoculture. In a large organisation this is a very very hard task, but if they are closed up to it now....if they are not a least considering the possibilities, I would go as far as saying that there could be some spectacular corporate failures ahead.

> None of the three would explain why this was so, and said peer was not
> in a situation to press them on the issue (read: many tens of thousands
> of dollars' worth of work hanging in the balance in each case).

Most bank IT people (and those that do the work for them) are subject to some very heavy handed and quite breathtakingly ignorant and lazy managers. Whilst I hate this sort of wimpy behavior, it is a fact that THEY have to work with if they are going to keep their jobs. Not everyone is willing to give up their livelyhood to make a point about FOSS, most people are just following what they are told to do, and they have no opportunity to influence the decisions. Do not forget how different banks are these days. Branches are just sweat shops and if they could outsource em to Bangalore they would. I have been in a few "branches" the last few weeks around the country and the staff morale is horrible. They cop it from customers and suits at head office equally. I really feel for them...it's truly horrible out there in a bank branch.

> Have any of you run across this kind of behaviour (or more of it) just
> in the last month or two?

Yes, I have definitely seen an upward trend in this sort of attitude, but I also see lots of IT execs at MS "functions" in both Sydney and Melbourne...they have lunch together quite often I expect... it's called "Public Relations" in some circles. These CIOs will soon learn how erroneous a decision based on PR can be... :-)

But look no further than the Australian IT article yesterday about FOSS in he ATO... That's the forth week running that FOSS has featured very heavily in our countries most accessible IT publication. Sooner or later the naysayers will fall, sooner or later, they will force their IT departments to look at it more closely. 

I have dusted off my surfboard, paddled out and am waiting for the next wave... (the last one was a beauty..:-) let the ignorant fools eat their own words later.. I am too busy surfing the tide of ever increasing FOSS acceptance, reliability and success.... :-)


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