Is Open Source the right model in the Cloud Rush era?

I finally found the time to share the slides for the ApacheCon talk I gave a couple of weeks ago in Austin, Tx.

The topic is pretty ambitious and quite business oriented, although the most technical in my audience will still appreciate the details around how Open Source technologies are powering the Cloud world, and how the DevOps movement is entrenched in strong open source cultural roots.Кровля из металлочерепицы. Ее достоинства и недостатки.

I hope you’ll take the time to read the preso below and I’d love to hear your feedback below, since I imagine there would be some heated disagreement 🙂

But if you are too lazy even for checking the slides below, here’s the 3 key take-aways from that preso:

1. It’s not Open Source vs. Cloud, it’s Open Source + Cloud, in the way that there would not be Cloud without the economies of scale provided by Open Source and that most SaaS companies are increasingly seeing the value of Open Source contributions (Google, Linkedin, Facebook and the likes are by no chance the biggest contributors)

2. Open Source has won, and it’s no more a positive differentiation (positive incentive) but more like a de facto standard for writing code (especially at infrastructure level), so it’s a negative differentiation (negative incentive) not to be Open Source (e.g. Govmts around the world use increasingly open source first policies in their software provisioning processes). In a way, Open Source is a commodity.

3. There will not be another RedHat, i.e. a $1B company only based on support and services of pure Open Source software. Sure, Hortonworks and the likes can still make a few hundred millions, but the growing technical and market expertise (due to the commoditization) around Open Source will reduce their chances to do a pure open source services play. Furthermore, we see more and more examples of the winning pattern being running a SaaS service and contribute (at least most of) code to the Open Source: this allows you to scale in the cloud and leverage the profitable SaaS business model, while de-risking investments and creating de facto standards by contributing and  leveraging the Open Source ecosystem.

Confluence and Alfresco integration … am I seeing double? :)

Abstract:

Funny little story about open source business models and trends: this story goes about the long time discussed and awaited Alfresco Confluence integration, and goes back of almost one year. Confluence is the Enterprise wiki solution from Atlassian, while Alfresco…well I guess it does not need introductions on this blog 🙂

Short preamble:

This project started  in June 2009 hosted in Google code as joint open source initiative by Alfresco and an Alfresco pan-european partner,  Sourcesense: originally hosted on Google Code under the name “Confluence Alfresco Plugin“.  The project was originally meant to provide access to Alfresco documents from Confluence macros, and was based on the Alfresco proprietary webscripts ReST API. After a promising initial implementation was drafted, the project has not seen any commits as of Jun 2009: the reason behind this sudden stop was  that this implementation was based on very specific Alfresco APIs, and the rise of an Open Standard like CMIS would have made such an approach an early obsolete product.

Where one seem to stop, another rises from its ashes: as natural continuation of the Confluence Alfresco project, in the very same mid 2009 in Google Code a new project is opened under the, more generic, name of Confluence CMIS Plugin. As the name suggests, the scope of this set of Confluence macros was, not just to integrate Alfresco, but to provide Confluence a more generic support for any CMIS compliant repository: this open source & open standard approach was based on the initial versions of Apache Chemistry Java client, still under heavy development at that time, but already attracted some buzz in the Confluence community.

Present times:

Almost one year has passed since then, and I keep on receiving requests (almost on a weekly basis) from Alfresco partners and customers interested in an Enterprise solution for Alfresco Confluence integration.

What happened with Confluence Alfresco (and its successor Confluence CMIS plugin)?

Looking a bit deeper at the project’s mailing lists you can find some hint of what’s going on:

Sounds a bit like the ant vs grasshopper battle, doesn’t it?  🙂
My view:

First of all, I must say I really do hope the two efforts will soon be consolidated into one, both from an open source contributor and also Alfresco business perspective.  Still for now, we’ll have to stick and choose one.

Those who know me already might already be guessing this: at the moment, I quite like the approach of the Confluence CMIS plugin, and not only because you can actually check out the code from Google Code / get snapshot releases NOW and have macros in your Confluence to work against any CMIS repository.

Ah, and also not just because I’m a committer in the Apache project (Chemistry) developing OpenCMIS, which is now used by this plugin 🙂

The reason is instead that I really do prefer an open approach to ECM, especially about building integrations, and that comes out of the my very personal idea of software development.

IMHO, being software development a process, there’s more to it than just a good mix of high quality code and good sales/marketing skills: to build a successful (and scalable) solution, you need to have a sustainable and lean process backing up the development of your solution, a process where systems and people can interact on standards basis and clear information flows, like the ones a controlled open source process can offer.

Conclusions:

The Confluence Alfresco CMIS integration story, is just one example of how the very same solution can be approached in multiple ways: with no doubt, from my perspective, the CMIS based approach is bound to be superior in terms of longevity and maintainability (thus reliability of the business model).

Also, in order to achieve a much broader target, it might be beneficial to keep it in the open source arena: this way, it might get the resonance and the broader adoption that the Confluence community is waiting to actually start consolidating content in more advanced ECM platforms like Alfresco (or any other CMIS compliant server), based on top notch libraries like OpenCMIS (BTW, we’re working toward a first release out soon).

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not just a Stallmann style fundamentalist: it’s still perfectly possible to develop proprietary (and maybe enterprise specific) extensions which might use a different licensing and business model, and maybe Alfresco specific capabilities. I just believe that for core ECM functionalities and product integration, it’s just always better to stick to the standard (especially after all the work put into the CMIS process).

And that sounds especially reasonable,  if you think that both Alfresco (LGPL licensed) and Confluence (offering free hosting for Open Source projects) have important stakes in the Open Source community and potentially customer/prospects which value the extended benefits of an Open (source + standard) approach.

And if you not convinced yet, I have few more thoughts on what I mean by Open (source and standard) ECM

I just committed at Apache…now I can be a dad :)

Today is a shiny day in my humble open source geek existence: after about 9 months after having been awarded the Apache Chemistry committership, I finally did my first ASF code commit.
About the slowest ever…

When tweeting about it, I go this interesting consideration by my friend and ex-colleague Mario :

@mindthegabz Congratulations! 9 months for a commit is like a childbirth…

While I tend to agree on the quite same importance of  having a casino online kid and doing an Apache Commit :p ,
does this also imply I should start seriously thinking about a larger family? 🙂

Don’t see it mentioned anywhere in the New Committers guide, am I missing something ? 🙂