Software Plumber?

Okay, both of you who read this blog know that I believe that the software industry will be transformed at some point to a model similar to that of the manufacturing industry. That is, fewer companies will build software and most people in IT will make their living installing and supporting that software (and training others how to install and support software). One of my colleagues, Shawn McKinney (a Paragon of Security knowledge, keeper of the sacred keys), brought up a good point in this thread at IBM’s My Developer Works, on the Java Enterprise Open Source Application Architecture Group. Here’s my reply:

I think the whole software sales model is a good one. The problem is that the companies that sell the software are the same ones who support it. Who better to support the software than the people who wrote it, right? Well, that argument works for anyone who hasn’t called a software support help desk. There the problems begin.

See, companies that are good at writing software aren’t always good at doing support. So, that do they do? They hire people making $10/hour (or less), reading from a script, that have no idea how to solve your problem, because by the time the help desk people have enough experience to be helpful, they get hired away to another company (etc.).
It seems like nobody has figured this out, and I think the reason is that the people who write the checks for software licenses (and support agreements) aren’t the ones who actually have to call the help desk when the app is in the ditch. I think the industry figured this out with manufacturing and up sprang a whole group of people who are great at supporting the manufactured-thing when it breaks.

For better or worse (or lower revenues), I believe the services-model is inevitable. It’s a game of musical chairs, my friend, fewer companies will be building widgets and more people will be putting them together. The question is, where do you want to be when the music stops?

Interested in joining IBM My DeveloperWorks? Click here to register, and as soon as you register, click here to join the Java Enterprise Open Source Application Architecture Group.

Carry on.


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