Let the customer choose where to buy lunch from !
Matt Asay is pushing his favorite Open Source model again. The model where the majority of developers of a project work for a company and that company is creating a business around the project. There's nothing wrong with that model, but he seems to forget the other models time over time :)
Matt is absolutely right with 2 of the 3 things he wants you to consider.
A SI in the middle of a $50 million dollar project involving Alfresco not talking to Alfresco is just wrong. An SI not offering a support contract is also just wrong. But an SI forcing his customer to buy the commercially supported version from a vendor ? Where's the customer choice ?
The customer should have the option to choose for a commercially supported version or the free version. And preferably that should be an educated option.
Matt seems to forget about situations where an Open Source project is not managed by one central organization , by one company that contributes most of the code. What companies are in charge of Apache, Linux (and don't reply RedHat here), Xen (No it's not Citrix anymore) , Samba , and lots of others.
If you were in Australia why wouldn't you get a MySQL support contract from Arjen Lenz ? Even if he didn't have MySQL Partner Certification ?
If you were in Germany , as a Centos or even RHEL user would you want to get your critical Samba Support from some support guy at RedHat or from some German guy at a local shop
If Michael Badger were in the SI business , would he be a good partner to support your Zenoss setup ?
3 totally different cases, the ex-employee, the developer not employed by a vendor, the guy who wrote the book.
Not all Open Source projects are backed by 1 clearly identifyable company, lots of open source developers work at SI's and they might be a better source for a specific project than a vendor that just integrated their product.
Worse even .. I've seen tons of traditional SI's jump on the Open Source wagon, by working only with the Commercially backed Open Source tools, as if they were proprietary software. Obviously the commercial Open Source vendors love these SI's they are the best resellers , and probably the worst integrators.
So Matt, please remember, there is more open source on this planet than your corporate backed open source, I haven't seen figures , but my bet would be that the corporate backed part is the smallest one.
In the end the most important thing is that the customer has got to have the educated choice between the locally supported opensource alternative , or the locally supported opensource alternative with commercial backing ..
But then again , it might be the European vs US vision however :)