The Problem With Proprietary

I have seen the view expressed that open source and/or free software isn’t really relevant to enterprise systems. The reasoning (and this is coming from an IBM i perspective, I can’t speak to the experience on other platforms) is that, while the programs we have are proprietary we do have access to the source, can find out what is going on in the database and are able to either extend the software or build interfaces around it depending on requirements.

It’s true that none of these enhancements can be shared but no logistics company (to take an example) is going to get into the business of distributing software, so this restriction exists in theory rather than in practice.

Then Oracle comes along and provides the counter argument: Oracle smacks JD Edwards help site with cease and desist order

A JD Edwards technical reference and help site has been forced to close after being sent a cease-and-desist letter from Oracle.

The JDEREF.com site’s UK-based webmaster recently revealed that a legal representative from Oracle, which acquired JD Edwards’ owner PeopleSoft in 2005, sent the cease-and-desist letter requesting the closure of the site due to perceived IP infringement.

The Oracle legal letter argued that by providing information about JD Edwards’ software schemas, the site was infringing on Oracle as a rights holder. The letter requested that the site admin “remove or disable access to this material.”

Let’s be quite clear here. The only people who are going to be interested in JD Edwards schemas are the people working for companies that have bought the JD Edwards software. These people will be capable of obtaining or building the schema information for themselves but, without an external reference, this information will be fragmented across multiple customers and left to become obsolete and increasingly accurate.

By thinking in entirely in terms of copyright protection, all that Oracle has achieved is to close down a site that gave businesses a reason to continue doing business with Oracle.

Before I finish this post, I would like to clarify that the point of this post is not to bash Oracle. Obviously, the focus is on Oracle and JD Edwards because the site that was shut down was JDEREF.com. The operator of this site was slapped down for trying to help his professional community and (indirectly) add to his supplier’s bottom line. Most people working on this sort of software simply wouldn’t bother, and this is both a result of using proprietary software and an unnecessary expense for the businesses that buy it.

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