Software competitiveness is particularly sensitive in Europe, given that only a rather insignificant percentage of EU vendors make it the global top league, while EU official agenda according to the 'Lisbon Agenda' is to lead the knowledge economy, Paul Everitt recently said during an exchange
"Forces in the EU are pushing their tenders and bids to give a preference to open software and this has now trickled down to the CMS level " he said.
Sounds interesting. Let's find out more....
Tell us a little about Zope Europe
Zope Europe Association is a different approach to open source business models. It is a non-profit business partner network of the companies helping build Zope. As such, our prime directive is to grow the companies that grow Zope, not to become an intermediary with its own shareholders.
We open source as a value chain, from users back to producers, and we want to push the reward as far back in the value chain as possible. For customers, this means two things: they get to work with the real experts, and they contribute to the long-term viability by supporting the producers. For the business partners, they see a way to band
together to win bigger projects and tackle bigger issues in the market.ZEA is an exciting and rewarding activity to be involved in.
It looks like the trend towards OS is here to stay. what are the most obvious facts that support that perception?
The EU commissioned a study a few years ago with MERIT called the FLOSS survey. They are updating their results this year. The survey shows the progress of open source from the early market to mainstream market in Europe. It still is nowhere near the late market, or even deep market penetration in the mainstream. But the numbers clearly
reinforce that it has crossed the chasm.
For open source in content management, it seems a sector that is behind others regarding the mainstream. But the situation is changing. 3 years ago when I left Zope Corporation to move to Europe, you couldn't get any CMS industry analysts to talk about open source. I remember participating in an analyst conference call. I submitted a question about open source and got no response. Now, though, several mainstream analyst firms are producing reports
dedicated to open source CMS.
With many potential buyers and so many OS CMS systems out there, competition must be increasing
Well, yes and no. I worry that the overpopulation is making ourselves collectively weaker against the true competition, the closed-source and half-closed CMS products. Mainstream buyers like well-structured markets with clear competitive grids and good analysis of strengths and weaknesses. The sheer number means the
buyer has to assemble this picture themselves, which is costly, and thus skipped.
At the same time, I feel there are some trends coming in what is currently known as content management, places where deep innovation could take off very quickly. The high number means that the lightning bolt of innovation could come out of the open source sector, creating a category killer pretty fast.
How are OS products differentiating?
Primarily by programming language and other platform choices. That's the most likely reason there are so many choices.
In the commercial sector, you can't get VC startup funding unless your business plan is compilable in Java. :^) However, on the real Internet, dynamic websites run on lots of other technologies. Thus, as long as there is no clear winner between Java, .NET, PHP, Perl, Python, etc., there will be lots of choices for web systems.
For many customers, their web team grew up organically, and usually used things like Apache and open source scripting languages. As the need for a CMS emerged, this group looked in horror at Very Large CMS architectures. If they had a choice that reinforced their existing skills and existing culture, that choice would be strongly endorsed.
That might not be the way buying decisions happen with 2M euro deployments. But there aren't as many of those in still in the market these days. The mid-market is where open source has its natural allies and those deal sizes look better to the SMEs in open source than the VCs in commercial CMS.
How is competition affecting the sense of 'community' among OS developers?
I don't sense much of a dangerous upswing within OSCOM of divisiveness. People enjoy what they are doing and respect others that also enjoy what they are doing. As long as the small companies behind these products can get the success they deserve, then we'll be ok.
Getting that success mostly means educating the mainstream market about open source CMS in general, and not a particular project. As such, none of us is big enough to succeed alone and we thus need each other and each other's success.
In your experience, are developers devoted to one, or more than one OSCMS? I mean, is developer's loyalty important in the OSCOM community? Is money important for 'Open Sourceres '?
Most developers are loyal to one at a time, though which one changes periodically. Money is certainly important. Moreso than other open source sectors, the CMS field is driven by small consulting companies.
Can you describe your views about the balance between 'open source principles' and 'business interest' and how is this balance being maintainted in your Oscom experience? - is it?
How open source hooks up with high-velocity entrepreneurship is an area that I really enjoy. Forget for a moment the traditional lifecycle of a software company: have an idea, get early-stage VC funding, get bigger funding fish, and start planning your exit through acquisition or IPO. That's more like high finance than market-driven free enterprise and entrepreneurship.
In the smaller scale that our companies exist in, the principles line up perfectly with business interest. Software is free, services are encouraged. It gives a relationship that is good for both customer and supplier. It won't lead to an IPO, but the culture in Europe isn't so geared towards, "If you aren't a millionaire by 30 you failed." It is ok to run a good business for a number of years without having an exit strategy.
There is an area, though, that I think we'll have to confront. The next group of adopters will need a better balance of no-rules on legal status to some-rules. We need to tackle some of the IPR issues and have a good enough answer, one that satisfies the worries about project longevity without any fundamental changes to the spirit of open source.
About Paul Everitt
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