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2009.03.31

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The basis for the Opensource phenomenon is that services can actually drive more revenue than code. If you are the defacto source for the code then you can control the knowledge associate with the most profitable services. This is a smart strategy.

However, as you point out there also needs to be a the intent to help the greater good. Cheap beer is good if it is brewed well and doesn't have you running to the bathroom every ten minutes.

Such a true clear and concise observation.Brilliant post about building a stronger open source product.

@Ronny:
I am with you in that point. It´s about service and opportunity costs. What resources can be saved by using Alfresco Enterprise Level software version and/or service level subscribtion in comparison with community version usage.

But it is also a question of assurance and concept. What can be developed in better quality and at better costs within "Alfresco Headquarter" and what not. I believe in that kind of "dual business model" with high quality open source version and enterprise version with enterprise features. If large enterprises do not use enterprise version there is something wrong with consultancy or communication... :-)

In addition: ECM and Knowledge management needs such a lot of consultancy, process management and change management that there is enough to do for Alfresco integrators and ECM consultants.

Kind regards.

Open source allows to quickly reuse, develop and debug software by more than one company. However, what really matters, is getting a great product at a low cost. Open Source delivers on this, as it breaks the proprietary barriers of reusing and improving software.

But the question, John, is how you pass on that value to your customers? Your customers have the tendency not to pay for what you have done (putting together a great ECM, releasing it in open source, and thus forsaking the secrecy & exclusivity premium that you could collect), but for what you will do. What does Alfresco sell? A subscription to support, an insurance as you put it, i.e. your expertise. This is much better than the "right to use" (which is as closed source as proprietary can get). If your support is great, consultative, pro-active, your customer will repeatedly enjoy an on-demand expert, available within 4 hours, to solve a problem that would costs them days (of an engineer, out of production, etc..). This is sellable value. Your people, network (in or outside) and tools (that you do not have to share :-)) will drive companies to subscribe.

Paying Alfresco must be the cheapest option to your users (in any perspective: per user, per document, per search, per CPU, per incident): Any other competitor, including the internal staff (surfing on the waves of the 'community' edition), partners or plain "downtime", should be more expensive.

Maybe we can push innovation on support: preemptive, auto-diagnostic capabilities that can be offered in enterprise as a service in which every warning and error of Alfresco is sent to Alfresco (compliant with security rules), so YOU can fix before users harass the IT manager. In the end, he is paying for a good nights' rest :-).

It's not about free beer. It's about cheap beer, of a consistent quality, chilled, and available on demand. Like Trappist!

I take the macro view when I consider what's fair. The macro view says that globally the world spends $3.4T USD on information and communication technology, and that $1T USD is wasted on efforts that are abandoned before ever reaching production or on "bad software" that is late, functionally defective or deficient, or both. That $1T USD per year is a big waste, especially now that money actually matters again. (The full blog posting is here: http://opensource.org/node/384 )

I think what's fair is to be paid to deliver a solution that costs a nickel and saves a dollar of waste.

I believe that if a F10 or F50 company is using your software and not paying the terms that you ask, either they or you are not clear on where the true waste is in that F10 or F50 company and how you can help them clean it up right quick.

Having been at Red Hat for 10 years (and in open source for 20 years), I've seen 1000s of "transformations" where IT executives have realized that spending money on good open source technologies, people, and practices has a multiplier effect, not only on their own budgetary performance, but on what is possible for the company itself.

That is what is so exciting about open source! Companies who "buy" the "free as in beer" part of open source while dumping hundreds of millions of dollars on broken proprietary products are getting what's fair: degrading IT performance that leads to degraded company performance. Neither capitalism nor open source were designed to reward stupidity, nor ignorance.

But for those that are willing to spend that nickel and to retool from proprietary lock-in to open source software...great is their reward! And rapidly does it improve!!

I agree and understand that you have to have revenue to develop the software, but sometimes the cost of licensing the enterprise version of an open source software is too expensive.

I think the open source version and enterprise must always be the same source, and should be released at the same time. However, the enterprise version has the modules for "Enterprise" and the bugs fix by Alfresco, like you suggest.

So also will be easier to start a company with the open source version and then move to the enterprise version.

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