Disrupting Dinosaurs? Horizontal Scaling & Open Source are the answers
Why is it that a 5 people startup can bring an industry on its knees? There are many answers but open source and horizontal scaling are good answers. Traditionally companies have made solutions that were proprietary and optimised for deployments on a small number of expensive servers. It toke traditional IT departments quite some time to integrate those solutions and they would not touch them for multiple years. The result is that software companies would add a long list of features because customers wanted to be sure the future would be assured. These solutions would be “featureware”. The market leader would have a long list of features and could solve any problem given enough time and money. The more the better.
There is no better example than the telecom industry. Telecom solutions are overloaded with features, hard to use & integrate and as a result very expensive.
If you see this pattern as a disruptor or challenger then you should be extremely pleased. It means that brains can beat the dinosaurs.
Make your solution open source and make it horizontally scalable. Why? Traditional software vendors optimised for specific expensive hardware. Their thinking is that to grow you need a bigger box. Their licences are expensive per socket so customers would be buying the biggest and most expensive servers possible.
If your solution however installs on any public or private cloud, scales horizontally and it is open source then customers that want to save costs (almost everybody in almost all industries!!!), will have their R&D departments try your solution. The temptation is just too big. Make your software easy to use by using the latest web technologies and by focusing on more is less, and you will be a winner.
Let me give you an example. Metaswitch is by all means a traditional telecom solution provider that has been playing according to the rules. One day however they decided that they wanted to be different. They made a open source ims solution (something all telecoms use to handle calls) and used the latest dotcom solutions like memcached and Cassandra. The result is that any telecom R&D department is now testing Clearwater. Via working with Canonical and their award winning open source product Juju, Clearwater will be able to deployed, integrated and scaled in minutes everywhere. So what traditional vendors do in 12 months for many millions you can now do for free in minutes. However nobody will put their solution in production hence customers will pay for a commercially supported version.
Does this only apply to telecom? No! In industrial domains, banking, retail, media, etc. there are many similar potential examples that are coming. Brains will win from Dinosaurs. So if you are willing to be a challenger and convert a billion dollar market into many millions but flowing to only one company, it has never been a better time to become a blue ocean strategist…