A bridge too far

I demolish my bridges behind me – then there is no choice but forward.”
Fridtjof Nansen

OSS are full of dilemmas aren’t they? We’ve spoken about many of them in the past haven’t we?

Today we look at an interesting one in terms of product upgrades.

For a vendor, their ideal situation is to have only one live version of their software in use at any point in time. They may have code branches, but that’s largely for administrative purposes. If every customer is on the same branch then it’s easier to support, upgrade, train, enhance, etc. That’s one of the attractions of a web delivery model for vendors.

Unfortunately, that often isn’t possible, largely because their customers can’t upgrade to the main branch because of the impacts to other interconnected systems. That is the integration tax at work.

The message of today’s story is for vendors to consider whether their proposed product releases are “a bridge too far” for customers to cross in knowledge, skill-sets, ability to change, but most importantly, their ability to re-integrate with their various other systems.

Being a dilemma, I’d love to hear your opinion on whether vendors should take their customers down a path of revolutionary or evolutionary change.

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2 Responses

  1. Again a very good question, I first would say there is no single right answer between revolution or evolution. As one who is engaged with customers facing this very issue in both OSS and BSS applications as I write. Revolution is almost impossible because of the commercial implications. And ongoing evolution is expensive due to re- integration with legacy systems. One observation is the growing complexity of an evolutionary based system, that as you evolve and reintegrate, you move further and further away from a revolutionary solution.

  2. True Laurence! Over time a solution tends to become stickier, but possibly also makes it riper for disruption by something that is truly revolutionary. A dilemma for the incumbent vendors to be wary of.

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