Open Source vs Proprietary Software Co? Large Software Vendor vs. Small Software Vendor? Does It Matter?

In a recent post his blog, PLM Think Tank, Oleg Shilovitsky wrote about the PLM Open Source Tradeoff.  I shared my thoughts on the piece and I am wondering what you think.

Here’s what I think…

“I’m old enough to remember when the safest decision in computing was IBM, and it truly was the best decision. They had great technology, very loyal employees who provided excellent customer service, and IBM made long-term commitments to their customers that spanned decades.

I can also remember when new engineering graduates would start work at a company, and spend their entire (happy) careers at this one company.

Big vs Small GoldfishBut the situation has changed. Maybe it is because of the short-term pressures of the stock market, or the internet, or who-knows-what. Anyway, it’s kind of sad.

I think many positive attributes once associated with large companies, are just not true anymore: - Customer service has been outsourced to increase profits - Manufacturing has been outsourced and the cheapest possible materials used to increase profits - Design has been outsourced to increase profits - Long term job prospects and job satisfaction have been compromised by constant cost cutting

I think the discussion should not be about open source versus proprietary software company. This might be a large software vendor versus small software vendor discussion.

  • Which company is most innovative?
  • Which one will provide best customer support?
  • Which company’s employees are most committed to being and doing the best?
I believe these best attributes are now found in the smaller companies. Or maybe it’s the private companies versus public companies? What do you think?

I’ve spoken with many PLM users at conferences over the last decade, and there is a very clear message that they are disappointed in the PLM vendors.

Customers make expensive investments in specific products, and then those products or platforms are cancelled. They make expensive investments in consulting, but the implementation projects never get completed. Years later most end-users have barely got CAD file management working properly.

The vision of what PLM could be has never been realized. The vision wasn’t wrong, it just was poorly executed, by these same big software companies that are held up as the “safe” option.  So I clearly disagree that large vendors represent a “safer” or even “better” solution.

Is Open Source the answer? My bet is yes. A business relationship in which the customer only pays for success is bound to drive better results.”