When you're the 900 pound gorilla and realize you have to begin playing on the other guy’s battleground instead of your own, that’s when you know you’ve jumped the shark.
As everyone knows (even me, and I am — how to say this charitably — not very up on contemporary argot), the “jumping the shark” moment is when you hit your peak and begin the long spiral downward, although you don’t know it at the time. I propose that the following insignificant little item from the sys-con magazine web site (not even 200 words long) marks the approximate apogee of the proprietary software as we know it.
The title, “’There’s a Reason We Restored the ‘Open’ to OpenWorld,’ Says Oracle President Charles Phillips,” gives a hint to why I come out this way, but the following quote is what really nails it:
“We’ll give you both innovation and lifetime support at a measured pace,” Phillips said. “We have the scale to make this happen.”
“Innovation and lifetime support?” Where did that come from? Well, open source, of course. Isn’t that what open source is all about (oh yes, and security, among some other attractive features). And just when Oracle is taking over the world (or at least most of its competitors, anyway), too.
I probably wouldn’t be putting as much weight on such a small article if I hadn’t spent the last two weeks researching the September issue of the Consortium Standards Bulletin, which will focus on the uptake of open source by government in general, and the Massachusetts proposal to require use of the OpenDocument and formats for all document archiving after January 1, 2007.
In the course of that research, I’ve read reams of articles, studies and white papers dating back as far as 2000, and also interviewed Alan Yates of Microsoft, Peter Quinn, the Massachusetts CIO, and those responsible for the development of the OpenDocument standard, among others. Add to that scores of Google Alerts and press releases seven days a week on open source and open standards for the past year.
The inescapable impression all this leaves me with is that open source has passed the tipping point, and not only in the LAMP stack, but as a default option to be considered in more and more applications areas.
That’s where the Oracle quote fits in, even if Larry Ellison used a proxy to mouth it: “Lifetime Support” is proprietary-speak for “just as good as open source — really!”
When you’re the 900 pound gorilla and realize you have to begin playing on the other guy’s battleground instead of your own, that’s when you know you’ve jumped the shark.