Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The changing landscape of software services 

Oracle has recently done what would have been unthinkable even a year ago - provided a free version of their flagship database, and also *finally* released a free tool to replace the aging and decrepid SQLplus - called appropriately enough - "Raptor". I've been using the 2nd pre-release version of Raptor - and this is all good news. The SQLplus debugger alone is worth the "price" of downloading and installing it.

And that examples the new measure for software today - the initial ten minute test-drive factor. The cost of software is not the license charge - but how much burden does the software place on my computer and on my time to deliver meaningful results?

With RedHat making a half billion dollars last year - its pretty clear where the industry is now headed. People will pay for services and support in association with the software they are using, but not the software itself.

This is all being driven by the pervasive nature of computers - and clearly a per seat license when you have to deploy to 1,000's of systems rapidly becomes not only cost prohibitive but also complex to manage. Not only that - but also the interdependences of software - that now means that very little can be considered "standalone". Even games now require that you have some supporting components - such as video drivers, Flash or DirectX installed to be able to run.

All this means more weight to the notion of component software - and subscription based services and pricing models.

Certainly the big winners here in the database marketplace are consumers who for years have not had real choices or competition to speak of.

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