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May 18, 2005

Religions of the IT world

Definition of religion is very relevant for what's going in the world of IT. Here is how Wikipeadia defines religion:

Religion—sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system— is commonly defined as belief concerning the supernatural, sacred, or divine, and the moral codes, practices and institutions associated with such belief. In its broadest sense some have defined it as the sum total of answers given to explain humankind's relationship with the universe. In the course of the development of religion, it has taken a huge number of forms in various cultures and individuals. However, religion today is dominated by a number of major world religions.

We have few entrenched religions in IT and few new ones are developing very fast.  Some of them are quite obvious:

IBM  religion
Microsoft religion
Apple ooh-so-cool religion
Unix religion
Open Source religion
Software-is-dead service religion

Most of these have their own Pope, their own belief system and their own codified rules of engagement. If you work for a software company in the marketing organization it will help you to get the basics of the history of religion.  Sects (market segments), sub-sects (vertical market strategy), evangelism (pitch doctor), codification (Gartnerization), sanctity (NIH), technology Pope (our CEO really gets it !)  coronations in one beta release are some of the secret tools you can learn from the world of religion. 

Religion on the other hand follows fashion world as well. It's cyclical and goes through it's popularity curve.  Some of them even die mysteriously.  What we are seeing around open source tells us how suddenly good religions (like Solaris)  run into bad patches.

Combining fashion with spiritual march generates a powerful force. This force is what open source is right now.  Naturally other religions are threatened by this formula. You can get fashion - like OpenSolaris - but it's very hard to get the spirit.  Getting spiritual high requires a good dose of irrationality which is hard to get on CDDL. 

History tells us that weak and vulnerable (this could be either financial or emotional vulnerability) religions get attacked by evangelicals.  It's not an accident that Africa sees so many  Christians and East Asia has so many Buddhists.

IBM and Redhat are as much open source pretenders as they are market share slaves. They see Unix market ready for the Linux conversion,  and not all the reasons for migration are  rational. The fact that this conversion is based on  irrational ground might work to its advantage.  Remember success of any religion needs two things -  fashion ( which also means timing) and spiritual energy.  It's obvious that Sun needs energy now that it has adopted the fashion.

I will continue to chew on this analogy, more to teach myself how world of religion can teach us few tips about software marketing.  Also  I want to add here why every religion needs to have it's own unique database and application server!

Religion  needs RDBMS.  That too free and of enterprise grade!

May 18, 2005 in Open source | Permalink


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