Why Open Source

By Ivan Gevirtz

created: Thursday, October 06, 2005
updated: Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Below are thoughts as to why Clique should Open Source CVM and CVP.

Innovativ's (Clique's parent company) expertise is in providing unparalleled service and support, and custom integration and installation, around Sun Hardware sales.  This is precisely the kind of expertise and focus needed to make money off an Open Source product.  Offer the best service and support.  Look at http://www.sourcelabs.com as an example.  Similarly, when asked, "What are Clique's strengths?", I hear that we are good at integrating standards and existing products to build the best solution.  If it's built from standards, those components will go Open Source as soon as they are interesting, and thus our advantage of being the first to use it goes away.  However, our advantages grow: being the most knowledgeable, and thus most capable of service, support, integration, and custom development.

Clique VM and VP suffer from a classic chicken and egg problem.  The products are only valuable if other people are using them, but no one will use them if no one else is using them.  It's also a "Get Big Fast" problem, a network effect where the winner takes all.  Look at AIM and eBay.  They have all the users.  MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger have partnered to try to overcome this problem.  Amazon.com Auctions and Microsoft Auctions don't come close to eBay because eBay has the users.  And since they have the users, they will continue to have the users.  This is extreme lock-in.  If we try to sell CVP/CVM, or if users think they'll be at Clique's mercy, they won't adopt the product, even if it is best.  If it is Open Source, they may adopt it, and they'll also have a chance to build it into something they really want.  It gives the developer community opportunity to innovate.

Since Clique is the original developer of the product, we know the product the best and can do these things the best.  If someone tries to undercut us by also offering support, at that point we've already won!

The utility of our firewall traversal software is only realized if both clients have it.  So the more clients that have it, the better off Clique is, and it is a competitive advantage for Clique.  If we limit deployment, this technology becomes of limited value, and doesn't further Clique's bottom line.

Clique doesn't know how to make money, and the channel approach is not sufficient.  Why would Verizon be able to sell our product when we can't?  Why would they give us customer feedback?  How are they able to support our product?  Why would their sales force push a Clique product if it doesn't sell itself?  Wouldn't they just abandon trying, and then we're stuck without our own sales ability?  Once there is market demand, this makes sense.  And we can sell Verizon a custom UI/ custom client and monetize the relationship that way.

We can also sell CRUSH enabled guaranteed connectivity to corporate and other clients.  This is a competitive advantage which fits in line with Open Sourcing the clients.