Warm and fuzzies
Anybody who recalls the old Holiday Inn ad campaign that "The best surprise is no surprise" reveals two things: One, they are probably older than the typical Java developer today; and two, they would rather not have to sweat unnecessary details -- especially when building large systems.
"Commodity" is a very charged word to IT vendors. Mention it around the likes of Oracle or SAP, and you conjure up visions of dwindling sales and profits due to products that have either saturated their primary markets or lost their uniqueness.
Mention the term commodity to a CIO or development team manager, and the first things that come to mind are "no surprise," followed by "investment protection." In commodity markets, users gain the upper hand because they have a wide choice of similar products. Not only are prices better, but users start to realize that their IT destinies are no longer tied to a single vendor. You might have a "buggy" version, lousy service or your vendor goes bust -- but don't worry, the investment is still safe.
Traditionally, that was the case with desktop PCs. Few gave a thought to replacing Compaqs with Dells, or adding a few IBM Thinkpads to the mix.
Tony Baer is principal with onStrategies, a New York-based consulting firm, and editor of Computer Finance, a monthly journal on IT economics. He can be reached via
e-mail at email@example.com.