Monday, March 27, 2006

Being vanilla ice cream

I was driving along highway 280 here in the bay area today thinking about a number of comments I've gotten about Vyatta over the past month. For the most part, we've gotten some very encouraging words from a large group of potential users and supporters - and our collective psyche thanks you all!

At the same time, we've also gotten some harsh criticism from folks on our mission to bring open source software to the world of networking. Mostly, this criticism comes from folks that either: 1) are entrenched in the world of closed-source networking products, 2) don't believe in the open source model for any software or 3) believe that we're entering an established market that can't be entered successfully. Truthfully, some of all of these issues lurk in the back of my mind almost continually....

At the same time, I realized that we can't be liked by everyone. We can't be vanilla ice cream. Who does not like vanilla ice cream at least some of the time in some form? Personally, I like it plain, in a hot fudge sundae, a banana split and even in a cream puff as part of a profiterole. I'm not sure I've ever met someone who does not like vanilla ice cream in some fashion, although I am sure that they do exist.

Back on point and away from my dessert, we're a start up and we're breaking new ground in a market where change has not been prevalent in many years. The networking market is not expecting revolutions but small evolutions. Revolutions were back in the 1980s and early 1990s - we're no longer fighting Ethernet vs Token Ring, the great Frame/ATM slugfest is over, and IP won over Novell/IPX, Banyan Vines, Xerox XNS, Appletalk and about 20 other proprietary protocols that I have plastered on t-shirts from the early 1990s.

So, when we come out with a revolutionary business model for networking, we have to expect that some folks won't like it, understand it or bother to support it. Not everyone will appreciate the way we're building our business and we have to expect that. It's okay - we can't be vanilla ice cream. We'll have folks that love our community, get actively involved, submit bugs and deploy our products. We'll have critics that will say that we'll never amount to much and scoff when they hear our name. To be successful, we need to stay focused, to work on building our community and to make sure our software continually evolves.

Someday, we hope to enjoy a hot fudge sundae with our harshest critics. Even if they don't appreciate Vyatta software and support, I can almost bet that they'll enjoy the vanilla ice cream.


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