I had a funny conversation with a fellow presenter while at the conference. He and I got to talking and I shared with him my work with open source.
He then told me that his company (large financial services company) had been getting ready to create a large portal and did a bakeoff between IBM, Plumtree (BEA), a couple of other commercial portal products, and Liferay, a well-known open source portal (see a recent review of Liferay in InfoWorld).
He then said, “Our folks found Liferay to be easier to install, easier to configure and implement, and easier to run.”
Here’s the kicker — he then said “Of course, we would never use it.” (This was said more as an observation about the company’s practices rather than his personal choice).
The tone of his observation was one typically associated with matters of faith. It was clear that the corporate decision wasn’t a case of not enough facts to support going with Liferay; facts were irrelevant to the decision. Open source just wasn’t good enough for this organization, end of story.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of an analogous belief emanating from Detroit in the 70’s: “Americans will never drive Japanese cars. They’re too small and junky.”
History isn’t kind to organizations so certain about the way the world works that they don’t actively seek innovative solutions despite their lack of mainstream acceptance. The Japanese seem to have done pretty well in the auto biz; meanwhile Detroit is mired in endless restructurings, blameshifting to the US healthcare system, and an inability to consistently build cars that appeal to consumers.