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Re: [ossig] China's Linux disease

On 1/4/06, Dinesh Nair <dinesh@alphaque.com> wrote:
> On 01/04/06 12:29 BIGrat said the following:
> > this is sooooo applicable and parallels many instances of what is
> > happening here :(
> > dare we admit it?
> >
> > http://business.newsforge.com/business/05/11/04/1727259.shtml?tid=110
> i believe it is already endemic in malaysia, open source or no open source.
> today we're seeing many companies who're masters at Malaysian Rules
> Procurement touting linux and open source because that's what the
> government wants, leaving the true blue oss companies in the barren wastelands.

Bah, government procurement in every country I've gone to is a really
specialized business. You have to become a master of jumping through
bureaucratic hoops, and landing that precious first contract opens the
floodgates to many, many more. Whether it is FOSS or proprietary, this
situation exists everywhere. Why else do companies like Haliburton,
Lockheed-Martin, etc, keep landing government contracts in the US?
I've competed there before and the situation is exactly the same.

Gov't contracts, due to the nature of bureaucrats, are almost always
awarded to people that have a history of working with the gov't. No
bureaucrat wants to stick their head out and add a new, untried
vendor. The same is true of very large, bureaucratic private
corporations. I have a few horror stories of working with MNCs.

On the other hand, if you are willing to invest the time and effort in
becoming one of the regular suppliers to a gov't, it can be worth it.
Huge investment in time and effort, but usually a regular, stable
income stream later.

To me, the author does not understand this. It's the nature of
bureaucracies. For that matter, one of his examples is a bad one - Sun
Wah Linux is a Hong Kong company, a spin-off from yet another Hong
Kong company. The district he claims they currently control is not
part of Hong Kong (or bordering it), but deep in mainland China. Sun
Wah had to invest the time and effort to break into that market and
now are reaping the rewards of that investment. Likewise with
Microsoft, IBM and other big players in their areas.

It is foolish for small companies to expect that they can compete on a
level playing field with the big boys. Small == risk. Bureaucrats are
risk averse. Fact of life. Suck it up and live with it. Your offering
must be much better than the big boys. Oh, and don't try to compete on
price much. Gov'ts are not price sensitive, so the main competitive
advantage of small companies goes out the window.

On the other hand, FOSS is growing in usage here in China. One of the
advantages of reviewing resumes daily is that I see what the
candidates are doing in their current jobs. There is a lot of FOSS
usage going on here in the private sector and growing daily.


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