Comments on: Burgers As A Service Linux. GNU. Freedom. Wed, 13 Jun 2018 20:15:45 +0000 hourly 1 By: Aaron Toponce Tue, 29 Nov 2011 07:08:08 +0000 @Nicolai Hähnle- I'm not understanding how a burger shop does or does not lock in its visitors, nor with Facebook. I left Facebook rather easily. I was tired of the service. I can just as easily switch burger shops too. Unless you're referring to federation, which is beyond the scope of this post.

@Bryan Quigley- Yes, you can study the burger all you want, but the "secret sauce" in the burger, dipping sauce, and milkshakes will keep you at bay, unless you're exceptionally good at reverse engineering ingredients.

@Roger- Switching from a proprietary SaaS provider isn't expensive at all. It was actually quite trivial for me to get my contacts out of Facebook, and into Google, because when adding them on my phone, I linked them to a Google Contact. After leaving Facebook, all of their contact information was already in the cloud. For many SaaS providers, there are a number of tools for migrating data from one provider to the other. Leaving Google, despite their many proprietary SaaS products, is quite easy with their data liberation goals.

By: Roger Mon, 28 Nov 2011 18:02:55 +0000 The problem is switching costs. If the burger joint starts doing something that is not in your interests (eg posting pictures and video of every customer) then you can drive a block further and go somewhere else to eat. The costs for you to switch are zero or perhaps less than zero.

Switching away from a proprietary SaaS provider is far more expensive and virtually impossible. Look at what it would take to move your life from Google to Facebook or vice versa. What it also shows is that standards matter. You can use virtually any car and US currency with human body 1.0 to eat anywhere in town. Facebook, Google, Amazon etc do not share a common open standard interface which makes switching even more expensive since you also have to change how you talk to each one. If you had to change your car, money and mouth to use a different eating place you'd also be a lot more concerned about how they work.

By: Bryan Quigley Mon, 28 Nov 2011 17:05:27 +0000 The burger joint gives me the freedom (or doesn't even think of restricting it) to:
use the burger for any purpose I want
study the burger, and add or change things how I want them

It does lose the ability to copy the burger, and to improve it and share it. The analogy also breaks done somewhat....

I am making a 1 time transaction. I don't have to eat their ever again. They win me back on just their food and service. And I do now how the food affected me (somewhat), if it made me sick, I won't be going back.

They are also required to give me nutrition information. They are regulated, they have to meet certain standards that we as a society have created for restaurants. They undergo inspections to make sure everything is safe.

We don't have many standards for SaaS yet. That makes the discussion all the more important.

By: Nicolai Hähnle Mon, 28 Nov 2011 16:44:31 +0000 The analogy is a good one initially. And I agree that there is nothing immoral about trade secrets in software as a service from the outset.

I think the problem is not so much one of openness of the software in this case, but openness of the system.

The burger join does not lock in its visitors. Facebook *does* lock in its visitors, by means of network effects.

Imagine for a moment a world in which all software behind Facebook was in fact open source or free software, but the system itself was run by a cabal of committers, and you personally (but not necessarily the majority of the population) have a disagreement with that cabal. You would like to see certain modifications done to the code base, and the cabal disagrees.

The fact that the source code behind the system is open/free does not help you very much. Sure, you could start your own fork, but good luck convincing everybody you know to switch over to it.

When you look at it from that perspective, it becomes obvious that the *real* problem isn't so much that the code behind Facebook is closed. The *real* problem is that for you to have a connection with someone, you must either both use Facebook or both *not* use Facebook. There is no possibility to mix and match.

By: Tim Mon, 28 Nov 2011 16:04:47 +0000 Good analogy Aaron. I've often had a hard time explaining to people why I'm OK working for a SaaS company while also being an advocate for FOSS. I'll now be able to point them at your blog. 🙂