Thursday, May 8, 2008

"So, how do you make money?"

Of all the questions while I work our booth here at JavaOne [for Alfresco], the initial exchange typically looks like this:

"I see you guys are an Open Source CMS Alternative, cool... so, how do you make money?"

Sure, there were the subsequent functional questions, comparisons, tech topics, etc - but most people still don't have a baseline knowledge about pricing models in an open source world. Quite illuminating. I would have expected this to be the last question, or at least some rough analogies drawn by default to RedHat or MySQL (/Sun).

Open source may be disruptive on the technology front, but altering peoples' buying habits looks to take longer to sink in. Should be no surprise I suppose: behavioral change always takes the longest.

P.S. Alfresco uses a dual licensing model.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Speak softly and carry a big stick

Or better yet, let CMS Wire speak for you. Another great write-up on our latest release, Enterprise Edition 2.2 which contains
  • Web Application Preview and Test: provided users with the ability to preview in-context changes to any web application, including PHP, Ruby, JSF, Tiles, Struts, Groovy, and .NET
  • Web Farm Deployment Configuration: supports advanced deployment rules for scalable, 3-tier web application architectures with partitioned, replicated deployment
  • Site Templating and Branching: enable rapid creation of new sites from existing templates and the ability to baseline major site updates by branching existing site
  • Asset Reuse: allows updates and sharing of content across web projects
  • Email-based Collaboration: users can email directly into the repository and capture all discussions relating to a specific document
  • Email Archival: ability to automatically capture and archive all attached files and email messages
  • JMX-based Server Administration: JSR-160 support offers administrators access to Alfresco via a JMX console
More to come with 3.0 and beyond... take a look at the review, and as always download to try on your own!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Maudit tabernac mon ami... you left us way too early!

This week I lost a very dear friend, Jeff Millar. We worked side-by-side at Vignette for 7 years. He was more than just a coworker or friend... he was in all respects a kindred spirit. A local obituary can be found here.

It sounds cliché, I know, but there is a hole in my heart that's ached all week. I just can't get over the shock that he's gone. Only 40 years old, and gone.

Jeff cherished language as an art form. This one's for you:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

Time to mourn you now my friend. I'll miss you dearly.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Transparency - benefits and obligations

Whether in accounting, politics, or software - there's been an increasing amount of lip service paid to transparency. What a great word to fit into a sound bite. It conjures up images of light, and by slight extension, truth. Nobody wants to be in the "dark", so transparency must be good, right? In general, sure. But why - other than the feel good factor, why should anyone care about transparency?

Having personally observed this force at play in Open Source for the last year now, I see the key benefits of:
  • Holding people accountable - if all the facts are exposed, there's little to no wiggle room for any misunderstandings: intentional or not. Pass thru the data and minimize the "spin". Allow people to make decisions based on real data.

  • Fostering discussion - as a corollary to the above: examining data allows for questions, interactions, and analysis from several angles. Any results are more keenly understood, with less assumptions.
These are the true benefits, and more importantly obligations of transparency.

Specific to software, it's what RFPs and POCs have attempted to sift out for years. Nothing facilitates it better than Open Source. You have access to everything in the company, from the source code on up. Download the product, see it in action, read thru the docs -- and -- directly compare what it does to your key business requirements.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Alfresco Flying High

Who could ask for a better write-up on one's company than this one from CMS Wire? Is a solid IPO in Alfresco's future... we'll see.

All I can say as their Director of Solutions Engineering is this: we have significant traction with major accounts across key verticals, such as Government, Financial Services, and Media. In my 12 months on board, I've never been busier, more productive - or happier.

"Flying High" is very apropos.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Finally past year-end, looking to the year ahead with Alfresco

Just as I had established a good habit of regular blogging, our fiscal year-end occurred here at Alfresco... then AIIM... then User Group sessions. All of which were fantastic, but kept me quite busy doing "real" work!

2008 holds even more in store (guess I'll need to multi-task harder). We'll never be content with simply hitting functional par with the old ECM vendors, not by far.

Bring it on!!!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Recession vs Dot Bomb

The linkage for supportive data is fairly loose on this recent article from Dana at ZDNet. Because banks are borrowing money and Microsoft made a bid for Yahoo, the sky is falling ala "Dot Bomb 2.0"? and worse, that Open Source is at the core?

I completely agree that business models utilizing open source are still evolving. Yes, the "open source" tag has some of the caché reminiscent of the old "e-commerce" one - but let's not confuse Marketing with Finance.

Only a few OS companies are as yet publicly traded. Anybody in the tech sector these days looking to IPO will go thru a lengthy process, and I sincerely doubt we'll see the triple digit first day closings that made the news in 1999 - 2000.

This is an overall recession, not the birth pangs of another dot bomb. NASDAQ is not laden with over-valued OS companies.

In fact, the inherent value of new pricing models brought about by open source companies may actually *benefit* from a mild recession if executed properly.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Democratic Party Superdelegates - Be Advised

With few exceptions, I have voted in every election since age 18. My first vote was cast from a booth in Upstate NY - in my own High School. I believed in the system, but over the years that belief changed.

The last several years in particular always resulted in choosing the "lesser of two evils". Campaigns and candidates generated such a negative, divisive environment - that it became less about who to vote for, and more about who to vote against. I hated what our democratic process had become, and more importantly, how it increasingly fractured the electorate. We compromised our principles instead of compromising to unify as Americans.

That cycle finally broke for me in 2008 with Barack Obama.

I know exactly where he stands on the issues, how his campaign is (and is not) funded, and can see not just the momentum - but the positive affect he will have for us. Finally, for my first time in 20 years, a candidate to cast a solid vote *for*. Don't take away this opportunity for me, for the Party, and for the Country.

Restore us to the core values on which this nation was founded. Listen to your electorate. Nominate Barack Obama for President of the United States.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Open Calais - semantic web's first serious analysis engine

Reuters top-down metadata generation Calais service is now open for anyone to use (commercial and non-commercial). According to their FAQ:
The Calais initiative seeks to help make all the worlds content more accessible, interoperable and valuable via the automated generation of rich semantic metadata, the incorporation of user defined metadata, the transportation of those metadata resources throughout the content ecosystem and the extension of it’s capabilities by user-contributed components.
However, this is about more than just tagging and sets the stage nicely for the first serious analysis engine ala Semantic Web. Plus, it complements the recent Google Social Graph efforts built on XFN / FOAF via “bottom-up” metadata transport features.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A Kodak moment for Microsoft

With all the noise around Microsoft / Yahoo, I can't help but think of parallels. Is this part of something truly transformative for the Redmond gang, or will they follow in the footsteps of Kodak? Defending your business is one thing -- always being on the defensive is another, and usually indicates disruptive innovation at work:

© 2008 DLTJ / Peter Murray
a. A disruptive innovation reaches the point where it can satisfy the least demanding customers; least demanding customers drop the established, higher performing option on the basis of other factors (cost, convenience, etc.).

b. The established product exceeds the needs of the most demanding customers; sustaining innovations now fuel “performance oversupply.”

c. The disruptive innovation meets the level of performance required by the most demanding customers; those customers drop the established option on the basis of other factors.
Forces such as Open Source and Social Networking are far more profound than a shiny new search engine and portal site. Google is clearly seen as a threat, but is Microsoft aiming at the right target?

Or will Redmond, WA transform into another Rochester, NY?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Transplanting the garden with Google's Social Graph API

Leave it to Brad Fitzpatrick and the gang at Google to finally come up with an API for this. His video is worth the 2 minute investment to get a sense of where they're taking things. According to the docs page:
The Social Graph API now makes information about the public connections between people on the Web, expressed by XFN and FOAF markup and other publicly declared connections, easily available and useful for developers.
Excellent start to externalizing the graph as well as keeping it fully decentralized. Kudos to all involved!

All that glitters is not Social (Apps)

An article by Chris Williams on "facebook fatigue" references some interesting metrics supplied by comScore
The average length of time users spend on all of the top three sites is on the slide. Bebo, MySpace and Facebook all took double-digit percentage hits in the last months of 2007.
Seems that the glitter might be waning a bit more quickly than even I had thought. Time to get back to basics.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

FB - how does your garden grow?

There's no denying the critical mass swirling around Mark Zuckerberg's brainchild. But are they sensing a premature plateau on the horizon? If not, then why bother to open up their walled garden?

The answer is simple; they're not. According to Henry Blodget at
This move seems another smart step toward a hybrid strategy: Allow app makers (and Facebook) to extend social-graph functionality to the web, gather more app users, and recruit more members--but retain full control over the social graph itself.
This couldn't be any closer to the definition of "closed". Fortunately for us, there are alternatives. OpenID, while still somewhat nascent, sets the foundation for a truly open design.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Vignette - as viable as the Titanic

While the ride for this CMS vendor lasted longer than its nautical counterpart, I have to agree with Kas Thomas at CMS Watch. The iceberg's been struck:
* Total revenue for fiscal year 2007 was $191.8 million, down 3% from fiscal year 2006.
* Year-over-year license revenue: down 15.5%.
* Year-over-year services revenue: up 3.5%.
* R&D spending: down 8.9%.
And all of this on the heels of a Q3 alone that produced year-over-year license revenues which were down by 50% (yes, FIFTY).

Now watch everyone scatter for the lifeboats:

1/10/2008 - Leo Brunnick (Vignette Senior VP, Products and Marketing) announces intent to resign. His last day was the 25th

1/16/2008 - Vignette GM for EMEA is replaced

1/25/2008 - Graham Pullen, GM for APAC, resigns

Time to let this one go Kate Winslet style (sorry Leo [DiCaprio], er, Vignette).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Take another hit from your bong

A recent article by Bill Snyder makes reference to a new study from Research 2.0 (which I could not locate) and surmises:
The sea change in open source from pure-play provider to traditional vendor is not a symptom of discontent with the software itself... All of this is evidence that the days of the freewheeling open source movement are numbered.
One of us is living in their own reality as I certainly don't see the same thing. If you're gonna hit the bong that hard, at least pass it along with the article for the rest of us.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Economic stimulus - Rebate or Welfare?

While the President and Congress agree in principle on some form of a stimulus package, everyone also concedes that many details must be vetted -- and quickly. The centerpiece of the plan will be: the form of one-time rebates. But he [President Bush] did not say how much money Americans would get to keep or the amount of other tax incentives that could be in the package. Nor did Bush detail how the nation would pay for such a plan.
Does this seem to anyone else like "robbing Peter to pay Paul"? I get the concept, and this approach has precedent. However, I'm concerned that the only real impact will be in this week's headlines - and not on our economy.

Furthermore, when the Democrats have Charles Rangel (Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee) spouting off on national television this morning about how Republicans want to "exclude" 45 million people who didn't pay taxes from receiving a rebate, you really have to wonder what they're doing at both ends of Pennsylvania avenue. For all the supposed non-partisan-we're-working-hard-for-you-America tone, it sure feels like party politics are out weighing some pretty major domestic problems.

How can someone who never paid a cent in taxes be eligible for a tax rebate - excuse me Mr. Rangel, but if that's the goal for this package then let's call it what it is, welfare. I agree that many inequities still exist in America: jobs, wages, taxes - take your pick - but playing Robin Hood with funds from the IRS will not even that out... not by a long shot.

Perhaps if our legislative body would get down to actually doing some serious legislating, we might see an improvement in the Tax Code, Healthcare, and other crucial domestic issues. Whatever the approach, it will have to be more substantive than a soundbite on ABC.

Friday, January 18, 2008

TNBT - The Next Big Thing?

God help us all, with Web 2.0 still solidifying there's already (increased) talk of Web 3.0 - and 4.0. Now everything is versioned ad infinitum.

Whether it's dubbed the Killer App, Web 3.0, or just the Next Big Thing, it is looking to be a very cool application space.

Keep an eye on this in 2008!

"Open"ing up IDs

Finally, someone who's serious about OpenID - a great first step:
Yahoo!'s initial OpenID service, which will be available in public beta on January 30, enables a seamless and transparent web experience by allowing users to use their custom OpenID identifier on or to simply type in "" or "" on any site that supports OpenID 2.0. Alternatively, web sites that accept OpenID 2.0 will be able to add a simple "Sign-in with Your Yahoo! ID" button to their login pages that will make it even easier for their users.
Now if we can just find ways to splice in the social graph and access the same data consistently across sites.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Déjà Vu - All Over Again

It seems like everyone wants to crack the secret code on how to make money with Open Source. Michael Grove provides a solid reality-check:
To be a commercial success it is critical to understand and drive towards meeting the needs of your sweet spot, pragmatic customer who is looking for results, a dependable relationship and low risk.
Open Source will not magically sell any easier because there's something special about it per se, but rather because it helps properly align a software company with Michael's points above.

Having worked in the software industry for 18 years, I've seen numerous instances where a company effectively taps into a need at first... only to trip under their own momentum. The single, biggest contributing factor?

They lost touch with their customers.

Open Source may facilitate such alignment, but all the same marketing, pricing model, strategy, and execution discussions remain. And once you have that nailed, don't ever, EVER, forget who got you there -- your customers, not OSS.

Think of it as a tool, a construct: and a great one at that. However, OSS is not a business model. Keep focus on your customers and competitors, and use open source as a differentiator -- not vice versa.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Perfect Storm brewing in 2008?

I recently wrote about Software Darwinism -- why too much government control of the industry would backfire, and how OSS made for a much more (pardon the pun) natural selection process. Brian Proffitt's excellent post on Consumer Darwinism and the Rise of FOSS takes an even broader view. He asserts that with the rise of the PC:
If no one knows what computers can be used for, they decided, then we will tell the customer what they can do with them. And so they did. With operating systems, office suites, accounting programs, these software companies essentially invented the desktop PC paradigm from the ground up. And now, here we are, over 20 years later, using essentially the same paradigm to judge the worthiness of all other software.
Now, with the maturity of Linux as well as the overall open source distribution / business model... coupled with a generation of users who have grown-up with computers
"The desktop" as a paradigm is changing, to be replaced by whatever this consumer-driven market decides it wants. For too long, consumers have been told what they could do with technology. Now they are telling software vendors what they want, and are not so quick to buy into what the vendors have sold them in the past.
We've seen this happen in markets before, and nothing stands more ready to weather (and incur) such disruption than open source... Sound too much like a geek pipe-dream? Still wondering about actual market viability? Don't. Fortune provides several reasons why.

2008 may just be the year of the Perfect Storm for OSS.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

OLPC - slipping to the Dark Side?

From a purely technical perspective, the news that OLPC is in talks with Microsoft "to develop a dual-boot system to put both Linux and Windows on laptops aimed at kids in developing countries" has to be the most retarded thing I've heard in a long time.

Why would anyone create such a beautiful thing as XO, only to crap on it by jamming in any version of a Microsoft OS? Very disappointing - even with a dual boot approach. Why bother?

Stranger still is Negroponte's rationale that
Microsoft has embraced the open-source community over the past few years in a very different way than before.
The best response to which came from a comment on another blog:
Microsoft embraces the open-source community like a dog embraces a leg.
Nothing a good neutering can't correct.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Your online DNA, does Facebook hold the patent?

If I can ingest contact info from Outlook to LinkedIn, and from Gmail to Facebook... why is it "wrong" for me to carry my social graph data from Facebook to Plaxo, or anywhere else for that matter?

It's not about privacy: every user can control what data does / does not show to others, including their email addresses:

And it's not about protecting Facebook's servers. I'm sure they could accommodate the minimal load involved.

It's about revenue and nothing else. They're afraid that if it's easy for us all to switch to another site, then it can only be bad for them. How sad, and myopic. Facebook provides a lot more value than just the data they want to lock-up.

It seems that ever-prevalent-paranoid-mentality from Redmond has quickly crept into the halls at FB.