[linux-elitists] What's some marketing buzzwords for what we do?

Michael Bacarella mbac@netgraft.com
Tue Dec 31 06:54:48 PST 2002

> > From Michael's earlier comments, he was talking about a small business with
> > more than one location, inventory, resale, and maybe a mail-order or
> > Internet component.  That's bigger than Quickbooks.  Also, he felt that
> > there were good shrink-wrapped software products out there for the small
> > business.  I took that to mean Quickbooks, and I don't think he disagreed.

I agreed in that a business with a single storefront and thus single
computer could easily find shrink-wrapped software to meet their needs. 
They do not have a complex information system, and they can probably set
up Quickbooks by themselves after buying a computer from Dell/local PC

> > And yes, that business could easily be less than 25 people.  When VA was
> > about 6 people and doing about 100 units/month we ran on a mix of scripts on
> > Linux and accounting on Quickbooks.  We sure could have used something like
> > Accware.  We definitely would have paid for something decent.  The trouble
> > was that there was nothing in the middle.  Either it was too little
> > (Quickbooks) or overkill (Oracle, SAP, etc.).
> I would certainly like to understand what exact shrink wrap Michael is 

> > So I definitely think there is a demand for good business automation
> > software for the 25 person and under small to medium business market.

> > Microsoft sees that as well.  That's exactly their target market, and it's
> > why they bought Great Plains.

Accounting is part of it.

To pull together multiple locations reliably they'd (IMO) want to put
forth the effort to build some kind of information infrastructure
(ie, a network) linking all of their locales. I see this as a difficult
problem for most companies, who must hire an expert to set it up. And
I'm convinced that a Linux hacker can do it most affordably yet provide
something more powerful than any of their competitors.

Once this is complete, in addition to better accounting, they also
have internal corporate email. They have automatic off-site backups.

Each location's resources are immediately available to the entire
operation. Stores that were keeping separate inventories can now easily
browse what the other stores have, or what the warehouse has without

Each employee is now instantly reachable by any other employee.

Proprietary software offerings may do all of these individually,
but can any small business set that up without a specialist? Would
it be any good?

And the list goes on. Each business is different. There's endless
levels of customization that can be done.  One company I met was
annoyed that they had to keep checking their email to receive invoices
from one of their suppliers. It blew their minds when I suggested that
the invoice could be automatically printed out by their printer when
it arrived. It's a simple 10 minute hack but it saves the company
a lot, and they didn't even know it was possible.

In another business, the manager's job at each store location was to
print out and then fax reports back to corporate HQ every morning.
Even if it takes the Linux hacker $1000 to find a solution, it's well
worth it because over a year that's thousands in employee wages.

> > I would disagree that there's an enormous expenditure on Microsoft
> > licensing.

That would be correct. The licensing fees are mostly insignificant.

> > So now they've got after Linux with cold, hard, cost studies. They have
> > this new IDC study that shows Linux is more costly to support than Windows.

Ahh, but the costs, that is, the CONSEQUENCES, will be higher than
any Linux borne solution.  Linux hackers should be making the
liabilities of proprietary software very clear in their sales
pitches (which we're all familar with):

    It is restricted. The hood is welded shut. Customization is not
        an option. You mean to tell me a shrink-wrap software vendor
        appealing to some kind of mass market somehow produced a product
        that matched the nuances of every individual small business?

    Proprietary software has limited life. It is in their vendor's best
        interest to build obsolescence into their software so the user
        must keep upgrading. The new versions themselves cost money, but
        also time to perform, and doubly so if there are incompatibilities
        or some staff must be retrained because the software changed too
        much. Even moving menu options costs staff their time.

    Proprietary software can die even if there's significant interest in
        keeping it alive. The company retaining the IP folds. The buyers
        are fucked. No one else can provide support. They need to pray that
        someone comes along and buys their IP or eventually have to

    Managing licenses is an administrative burden, and the BSA has no
        problems kicking down your door and demanding that you prove

    Proprietary software is not developed to achieve technical superiority.
        Compatibility and standards are ignored as there are many
        business advantages for the vendor to do this.

        * Proprietary UNIX vendors, once they licensed the source, started
          making plenty of incompatible changes and rushed to introduce
          proprietary features. The end result of course is that a Sun
          sys admin cannot leave the Sun platform without being retrained
          for another platform. Software vendors have to spend more time
          porting their software, etc.

        * Cisco IOS is its own unique animal. They could have easily made
          something familar, but it's not. Non-Cisco routers use operating
          systems that are similarly unique. Some router vendors with sense
          have started bundling BSD.

        * Was it Sybase that had a deliberate vendor installed backdoor
          in it for years? IIS had one as well. When they exist in open
          source software they may last for a week at most, and commonly a day.

        * Everything that Microsoft has ever done to compromise standards,
          comptability, and snoop on their users goes here.

Hiring a competent Linux hacker over a proprietary software reseller
may cost a little more (I don't think it has to be), but the Linux hacker
will use open source technologies that have zero the liabilities of
proprietary software, will develop a more robust solution, and will
be cheaper to maintain over time.

Linux is easily customized, understood, automated and remotely managed.
It is possible to build a strong, compatible, secure system that is
unhampered by intellectual property restrictions, vendor squabbling,
vendor sabotage, vendor survival, etc.

I think that's a market.

Michael Bacarella  | Netgraft Corp
                   | 545 Eighth Ave #401
 Systems Analysis  | New York, NY 10018
Technical Support  | 212 946-1038 | 646 641-8662
 Managed Services  | http://netgraft.com/

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