Open source is key and not all vendors or stds created equal

Story: Exit costs of lock-in: Anticipate or it's too late!Total Replies: 2
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Aug 11, 2010
5:17 PM EDT
Something to watch for is that many standards allow for official extensions. This is a widely used way to bring the lock-in back.

More subtle is that lock-in can be inserted within the data stream/payload of open standards without any need to invoke extensions.

With or without extensions, Microsoft found ways to thwart ODF interop when used on even simple data (look up Robert Weir's analysis for ODF spreadsheets).

Another potential problem with open standards is that when implemented with closed systems that hold a lot of market share, the misimplementation by that vendor (and the number of unintentional and intentional bugs and deviations, subtle or otherwise, from the standard might be quite high) is lock-in.

And buying into a vendor frequently means that fully non-open components come into play. This might be data that is held in related files.

Some standards are worse than others as they are more ambiguous, incomplete, and inconsistent. These problems ensure a lower degree of interop even by cooperating vendors and give cover to those creating lock-in. Some standards also fail to leverage existing standards or end up requiring key parts to depend on nonstandard components (XML is popularly abused in this way).

The lesson is that use and dependency on open source applications and platforms is an important way to keep open standards in check and avoid the many possible lock-in pitfalls. Also, among poisons, some vendors have a much greater determination of achieving lock-in of you data than do other vendors.

Aug 11, 2010
5:41 PM EDT
Jose makes an interesting point here. I've noticed a certain amount of lock in in some Open Source projects, There's a Open Source URL Rewriter that I've used on Windows, it can't (easily) be moved to another OS, because it uses Windows specific dependencies. Also there is an open source tool for generating Stored Procedures and Business classes etc, that is available for Windows, it too cannot be (easily) ported to another OS, due to Windows specific dependencies.

I call these Non Free Open Source Software.

Aug 12, 2010
6:10 AM EDT
ta, good points, but just need to point out that you'd likely not need the URL rewriter at all on non-Windows platforms anyway since apache comes with this functionality built in.

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