Ernie Ball Inc. Still Rockin’ 11+ Years Without Microsoft

I found this article so intriguing that I just had to pass it on, with a few comments of course. What if folks just begin to feel too bothered by all of the requirements for managing software licensing? What if companies just start using open source software, or other alternatives to reduce their headaches? There is a business impact either way. Which one is greater?

After all the recent BSA raids I’ve been thinking about this issue for a while but didn’t think it was too practical to ditch the software publishing “big boys”. In essence, Ernie Ball is an 11+ year case study. Don’t get me wrong, if software is being used the publisher should be compensated. It seems that Sterling Ball has that value as well. We need to be able to strike a balance in regards to disruptions for customers and auditing by publishers. This recent article is a Q&A with Sterling Ball, owner and president of Ernie Ball Inc., maker of premium guitar strings and accessories. Since going open source in 2000, the company has tripled in size and flourished in other ways as well.

Article Takeaway:

  • I’ve never been a big of the idea but it is possible for organizations to use open source software to do business. Ernie Ball did it when (2000) far less options were available on the market. Others could effectively do the same by using alternatives such as open source, freeware or software from less aggressive publishers. Even a mix of these options could work.
  • Software consumers have, at times, been abused by large publishers for many years and they are getting tired of it.
  • Organizations often have more software titles installed than they actually use, opening themselves to liability and wasted spending.  They could reduce their risk and licensing management overhead by cleaning house and implementing key Software Asset Management (SAM) processes.

Aticle Excerpts:

On a quiet Friday morning in 2000, the headquarters of Ernie Ball Inc., a popular guitar string manufacturer in Coachella, Calif., was suddenly raided by armed U.S. Marshals.

The agents seized the company’s computers, shutting the business down. Sterling Ball, the company’s owner and president, later learned the federal agents were acting on behalf of the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which received an anonymous tip that Ernie Ball Inc. was using pirated software inside the company.

“I would have liked for some other things I accomplished to be on my headstone,” he said. “It still bothers me to this day. But after we went open source, life’s been just wonderful.”

Here’s the article, link: After Software Piracy Raid, Ernie Ball Rocks On Without Microsoft . Article was originally written by Rob Wright and posted at CRN. By the way, Ernie Ball  and Sterling Ball are legends in the music world.

More Information:

More about how Ernie Ball Inc. went “open source” written in 2003

Ernie Ball Inc. Company history


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