Kingsley pointed me to this News.com story about Ernie Ball, the world’s leading maker of premium guitar strings, who made the switch from Microsoft to Linux after being pursued (and humiliated) by the anti-piracy alliance. They were finded USD 100,000 for non-compliance. Excerpts from an interview with their CEO, Sterling Ball:
I became an open-source guy because we’re a privately owned company, a family business that’s been around for 30 years, making products and being a good member of society. We’ve never been sued, never had any problems paying our bills. And one day I got a call that there were armed marshals at my door talking about software license compliance…I thought I was OK; I buy computers with licensed software. But my lawyer told me it could be pretty bad.
The BSA had a program back then called “Nail Your Boss,” where they encouraged disgruntled employees to report on their company…and that’s what happened to us. Anyways, they basically shut us down…We were out of compliance I figure by about 8 percent (out of 72 desktops).
I know I saved $80,000 right away by going to open source, and each time something like (Windows) XP comes along, I save even more money because I don’t have to buy new equipment to run the software. One of the great things is that we’re able to run a poor man’s thin client by using old computers we weren’t using before because it couldn’t handle Windows 2000. They work fine with the software we have now.
We’re using it for e-mail client/server, spreadsheets and word processing. It’s like working in Windows. One of the analysts said it costs $1,250 per person to change over to open source. It wasn’t anywhere near that for us. I’m reluctant to give actual numbers. I can give any number I want to support my position, and so can the other guy. But I’ll tell you, I’m not paying any per-seat license. I’m not buying any new computers. When we need something, we have white box systems we put together ourselves. It doesn’t need to be much of a system for most of what we do.
I’m not making calls to Red Hat; I don’t need to. I think that’s propaganda…What about the cost of dealing with a virus? We don’t have ’em. How about when we do have a problem, you don’t have to send some guy to a corner of the building to find out what’s going on–he never leaves his desk, because everything’s server-based. There’s no doubt that what I’m doing is cheaper to operate. The analyst guys can say whatever they want.
The other thing is that if you look at productivity. If you put a bunch of stuff on people’s desktops they don’t need to do their job, chances are they’re going to use it. I don’t have that problem. If all you need is word processing, that’s all you’re going to have on your desktop, a word processor. It’s not going to have Paint or PowerPoint. I tell you what, our hits to eBay went down greatly when not everybody had a Web browser. For somebody whose job is filling out forms all day, invoicing and exporting, why do they need a Web browser? The idea that if you have 2,000 terminals they all have to have a Web browser, that’s crazy. It just creates distractions.
Wish I could get such stories from India!