The Big Mixup: Open Source and Cloud Content Management

Next month, I’ll be in San Francisco for the AIIM conference, invited by the brilliant Laurence Hart to participate in a panel with some fellow ECM practitioners  from more traditional ECM providers as well as from emerging cloud-based services.  Visit the AIIM website if you want to know more.  Of course I hope to see you there!

I look forward to this discussion, as the topic is interesting to me and comes right on time: Lately in our industry I have read a lot of things which tend to oppose  “cloud-based solutions” and “open source solutions” and describe them as exclusive. It first started with some business analysts.  Often these people want to put us software makers in  very limited boxes; which I understand – it’s their job. I never really understood why eZ Systems (where I worked before) and Nuxeo (where I work now) but also Acquia, Alfresco, Liferay, Hippo, whether it is about ECM or WCM, should be in an “Open Source” box, and not simply in an “Emerging vendor” box.  To me, it is for their features first that both eZ and Nuxeo should be considered (or not) for a project, not for their open source characteristic — features including those functional, technical and economical. So as much as I hardly understand the “open source” box now, I don’t really understand why we, “open source vendors”, are opposed to the folks in the very wide and undefined “cloud” box, as if both cloud and open source were mutually exclusive.

Hopefully the discussions will be about how cloud-based services and other solutions, originally more driven by individuals than organizations, might impact ECM solutions. I have my vision about it and to me, it is an interesting topic to discuss. But for now I won’t speak about this topic.  I will keep it for later and will stick to the “cloud vs. open source” topic.

I have just read John Newton’s blog post “Cloud vs Open Source? I don’t think so!” which came as a reply to Lubor Ptacek’s predictions for 2012 which I also read (Lubor will actually be part of the panel mentioned above). Will we speak less about open source in 2012? Well, maybe yes, as it’s becoming less of a buzzword, at least as a differentiator and more of an established model, but it certainly has nothing to do with cloud. Companies like Nuxeo and Alfresco are obviously (emerging) competition to big players like OpenText and they are growing, gaining marketshares, and becoming more and more important competitors.  Their solutions are, by the way, obviously more modern and thus naturally fit better in a cloud world (and no I won’t say here which one fits better in my opinion 😉 ). So no, nothing to do with cloud indeed!

I agree with John Newton on many points he raised and to me, there is no need for a deeper dive. I must also say, though, that I disagree with some other things raised by Newton.  No, the cloud doesn’t run on open source software only, as the article implies. Saying this means as much as Lubor’s generalization, actually. A good share of the cloud runs on open source technology and a good share doesn’t.  Let’s say, for instance, SFDC and, hard to ignore when talking about cloud.  Surely these solutions have little OSS pedigree even if there must be OSS components somewhere in the salesforce stack. And don’t take me to Azur…

Back to my rant… Why do we still need to explain what open source means? Please stop that, and step up the discussion!

Open source is not a business model.  Open source is a development model.  Are we still talking about that? It is known to make better software. It doesn’t guarantee it makes good software by itself, and through different open source projects, you might find good and bad solutions. Being a cloud solution has nothing to do with these development considerations. The cloud is about how to deliver software as a service at different levels, from very end users to developers and sysadmins. It is about distribution and business models. Ask a small company like Automattic with a not that small of a product and you’ll understand both are extremely compatible!

People in our industry opposing cloud and open source should stop doing so.  This makes no sense! I somehow understand Lubor’s perspective, because OpenText obviously is a bigger and more established player, and isn’t in the cloud or open source areas. But dear analysts, reporters, practitioners, and consultants: please understand we are not talking about the same thing here and even if it is tempting, please don’t fall in that trap of mixing up the two.  This is like if I would ask you “Do you prefer organic coffee or espresso?”  The first is about how the coffee is grown, the second how it is poured.

(And I didn’t say open source had anything to do with organic coffee, but both of them are certainly better for the environment…)

Back to content management.  Whether on-premise or on the cloud, open source technology will provide a range of benefits more or less interesting for you depending on the window from which you look.  In the enterprise world, I see the hybrid on-premise/cloud deployment model as probably THE scenario we will see a lot in 2012-15 for this industry. I must say I share this prediction with Lubor.  And in this case, definitely open source will help!

2 thoughts on “The Big Mixup: Open Source and Cloud Content Management


    Thank you for using time to publish “The Big Mixup: Open Source and Cloud Content Management | Roland’s job blog”. Thank you so much once more -Donnie


    “The Big Mixup: Open Source and Cloud Content Management |
    Roland’s job blog” Solar Shade was in fact a pretty pleasant posting, . Keep composing and I’m going to keep on reading through!
    Thanks for your effort ,Tania


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