More insightful analysis from Nicholas Carr; read the full post.
Are there economic or other barriers that prevent competitors from capitalizing on the investments of the open-source companies?
We're about to get a lot closer to an answer to that question, thanks to that great clarifying force in the technology business, Larry Ellison.
I also find it fascinating that Larry Ellison gets credit (in BusinessWeek) for a "ruthless and brilliant act of capitalism" while Microsoft executives, openly speculating about similar issues in the past, got attacked for comparing open source to communism. In any case: the theory, hype, and reality of enterprise open source are now being tested in new and interesting ways.
Recommended (albeit somewhat dated) reading in this context: The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison -- it's a book with a dumb title, but it's useful background/early history on Ellison and Oracle.