Services, The Open Source Hedge Against the Cloud

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how the traditional vendors are being disrupted and are going to face an increasing number of challenges from the new cloud vendors. I want to take a minute to talk about why the Open Source vendors, like Alfresco and Nuxeo, are likely to not be disrupted.

Don’t get me wrong, the question of usability that hurt the likes of EMC, IBM, and Oracle still applies to the Open Source vendors. The key difference is that usability is the open door, not the actual disruption.

Service, not Platform

When people talk about how the traditional vendors will be okay, they typically say that the easy file-sharing and cloud platform are things that those vendors can develop and deploy. It is true, but isn’t what the cloud is about.

It is about Services.

It isn’t enough to provide software from a cloud platform, a true Service is paid by use. This is where the Open Source community has an edge.

The subscriptions that people pay Open Source vendors is a service. People are paying for usage of the software on a subscription basis. Those vendors have already have a financial model that accommodates the Services Model.

That is HUGE because that impacts compensation and motivation throughout the company. That type of change is what really kills traditional vendors in any disruptive market. It isn’t enough to adopt a new technology, they need to adopt the new business model that goes with it.

Responsive Development

The other advantage the Open Source vendors have is code. Open Source vendors are generally younger than the other Content Management vendors, which leaves them with a lot less legacy code and clients. Changes needed to move to pure Services may not be as large from a technical perspective.

The other advantage is the fact that they are Open Source. When big changes are needed, successful projects can pull on external resources to make the transition. While this may have minimal impact in the grand scheme of things, if they can even pull one solic developer in to help out that is more than the traditional vendors can manage.

Constant evolution, constant feedback, constant fresh perspectives….that is something that can serve Open Source very well in this shifting environment.

There is no guarantee that the Open Source vendors will fair any better than the traditional vendors but they are definitely in a better starting place.

3 thoughts on “Services, The Open Source Hedge Against the Cloud

  1. Not so sure … By the time you get a major Open Source deployment far enough along (e.g.: SAP using Alfresco) it’s going to be seen in the same light as any other ECM deployment.

    Add to that that it’s really expensive and tough to move from one platform to another, even if the move is from platform to SaaS. Just look at what’s gone on in the past, and is still happening, with license swaps.

    To use a couple phases I really, really hate …

    If what the users use (systems of engagement) are delivered via a SaaS model and integrated with the corporate systems (systems of record), I can see the SaaS providers (Box, Dropbox, GDrive, etc) gaining a huge foothold AND enterprise blessing. The reality is that the command and control and RM and governance stuff is still necessary. It’s sometimes evil and it often sucks, but it’s what we have right now.

    When you speak about services … are you referring to implementation / consulting type services or SaaS. As has been so often proven in the past, vendors traditionally do not do services well. Big winners if it plays out well will be the SI’s/Partners and the users. Fingers are crossed.


    • Referring to the Services model that separates cloud systems from simple hosting…Software as a Service and so forth. You pay as you go and that financial model is one that the Open Source vendors already have to a large extent and the traditional vendors don’t.

      Also not saying the Open Source vendors don’t have challenges, be it scale, ability to heavily invest, or perception. They just aren’t going to suffer from many of the same issues that are makes the traditional vendors challenged to respond to the disruption.


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