Last week at IT EXPO West I had the privilege of moderating an excellent session on open source, Leveraging Open Source for Contact Center ROI, with Steve Kaiser from OrecX, Corey McFadden of Infradapt, and Vijesh Mehta of CallFire.
In the discussion of why open source came one excellent benefit: security against the product being phased out and/or the supplier going out of business. With open source you have access to the software kernel--it isn't proprietary--so you can continue to support, adapt, and grow the application to meet your needs regardless of vendor.
The impending demise of Nortel's enterprise division--which it will be unless it is won at the ironically dated/located September 11 auction in New York City by a bidder that is willing to keep it as an independent corporate entity, and that appears unlikely---is a stark reminder of that open source virtue. Anyone who owns Nortel proprietary software, and hardware, will have to plan for end of life, and buying replacement products.
Does anyone really think that the purchaser, which in all likelihood will be a competitor, is going to commit to supporting Nortel's product lines any longer than it takes to migrate at full speed Nortel's customer base to its lines? Especially since they will have to not only eat the winning bid costs--which will be much higher than Avaya's stalking horse auction paddle of $475 million--and the huge costs involved with integrating the unit with theirs including supporting legacy namely TDM products?
While the enterprise piece did pull in $2 billion in revenues, the net profits are obviously less. And while the economy is beginning to recover and order books are starting to open, will that mean magically good times? Not when there are many other similarly good and native IP-based solutions out there from eager competitors.
Nortel's collapse serves also a reason why business communications and contact center applications should go software, not hardware, and ideally hosted. Who can afford to get stuck with infrastructure? The products are sufficiently the same across the suppliers so as far the organizations' customers are concerned--the people who truly matter-- it doesn't matter which outfit makes the routing as long as the contacts are routed promptly, with no drop outs, to the right people.
If Nortel had made their enterprise products software, fully open source, and hosted with CPE as the alternative then we could be seeing one of its competitors being dismembered instead of this once-proud company.