What is IBM's core value proposition?
In the latest issue of Application Development Trends magazine, there's a column titled "Open Source Upsets The Apple Cart". The basic premise is as follows:
"Microsoft's recent quarterly SEC 10-Q report cited open source as a potential threat that could force dramatic price cuts. Pricing, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. Open source will also require vendors to demonstrate their core value propositions."
"Beyond all the spinning and positioning, open source is forcing vendors to revisit the question, "Where's the beef?" Traditionally, value is what the customer buys, and competitive edge represents the way a vendor uniquely delivers that value. It could come through pure technology advantage, domain expertise, delivery excelllence, or by virtue of a commanding market presence that implied that the product - and the support accompanying it - remains available.
"The software market is rife with contradictions as to what does and does not add value. The suscess of Linux proves that operating systems alone don't carry intrinsic value. Yet, Microsoft Windows illustrates the value of market dominance that draws all the third-party products and assurances of ongoing support."
With IBM's strong push into the open source and open standards area, the question is... What is IBM's core value proposition behind delivering the technologies that become commodities under open source?
As I move into the J2EE application server world (Websphere and Websphere Portal), I see in many ways that IBM has taken a very confusing technology and packaged it for ease of use and setup. They are not there yet. There are still far too many quirks in the process that can only be understood by those who are already up to speed with the application. Experience still counts for a lot here. But the direction that IBM is going with tools such as Express packaging for quick setup of Webspere Portal and the Domino Designer toolkit for Websphere Studio Application Developer shows me that IBM is committed to bringing this technology to a level where you don't have to be an IT guru to understand and use it.
Couple that with the approach of IBM's involvement on many of the open standards boards. Many of the technologies you see coming out of IBM are being pushed as the proposed standard for the rest of the industry. You could argue that this is no different than Microsoft's approach to making their own standards. But at least IBM is willing to open them to group acceptance instead of taking the "my way or the highway" approach.
So... Where do you feel IBM's core value lies, or do you feel that IBM is cutting their own throat by embracing open source? The comment link is open for business...