Commercial Open Source – Part 2

Dear Readers,

Well, I get some strange feedbacks about my last post, so I write a new update on this subject to clarify some ideas.

It is an evidence that commercial companies have an interest in making money, so an interest in beeing profitable. In the open source area, beeing profitable means either selling commercial licences and support, or beeing in position to perfom many training sessions and consulting.

The emergence of new Open Source companies was (and still is) a good news in order to shake the commercial software companies. Anyway, some Open Source companies have raise funds very quicly, which force them to change their structure. We can ask ourself why those companies raised money : answer may be “it was part of their strategy” or “in order to grow faster” … or anykind of valuable answer. But who cares of the consequences ? Venture capitalists want to make profit, so they want those companies to sell & sell, more & more. To achieve this objective, they just hired commercial tasks and build partner network. This is where I think strategy is not good.

If we entered the open Source landscape, this is definitly to behave differently. So, we have to find out new way of making money, to keep the company profitable. A pure commercial task force is expensive to deploy and to maintain. And ROI is never guaranty. It brings the companies to a place where it has to raise new funds, again & again. Or wait to be bought by another company. Both situation are always part of the company, even in the Open Source area. Who remembered the study of Goldman & Sachs that explained Cognos, BO and Hyperion were spending all their licence revenue in commercial & marketing activities (may 2006).Now, everyone knows how those companies end their activities, and how they left some customers & projects “in place”.

Partner network is something nice and pleasant to organise. But please, don’t expect your partners to make the deal for you. Open Source partners are there to use and promote the software, not to close deals. they want to use your product to make projects, and their main objective is their profitability, not yours ! Partner network is important, but an Open source editor will never make money with it. In order to help your local partner, I think editor should hire local technical task force, who can take in charge training projects.

One wrote me CIO want open Source companies to behave like commercial companies … well, I’d like to enter in contact with this kind of CIO, to get further explanations …I can understand that a CIO want to have a valuable company as partner, but I still don’t understand how & why a CIO want to spend his budget in commercial licences, when Open Source alternative are available and valuable.

It is true also that Open Source is not paradise ! But again, we are trying to make a different business, using internet facilities to reduce charges and timezone decalage. Most of profitable Open Source companies have built a business model without any commercial task force (Intalio & OpenERP are simple examples). Again, this doesn’t mean that those companies won’t raise funds (Intalio raised funds over the last past months), but this is the responsability of the company’s chairman or CEO to explain that this money has not to be invested in a commercial task force, but rather on making new version of the platform, building a technical network and providing some specific marketing activities to help local partners.

Have Fun !

Patrick

Open Source Licencing

Dear Readers,

Pentaho has just announced they will embrace GPLV2 licence type for their next release of the Pentaho Platform 1.7 GA. There are other well-known recent precedent of products changing their licence policy, such as EXT Framework or MyGWT library (for those we are currently using), bringing some confusion in the Open Source community

In those case, this simply means that if you didn’t take attention to those evolutions, you can embed a component with a licence type that has just became incompatible with your product’s licence type. In our case, we removed MyGWT from our set of embeded components (for exemple).

Pentaho GPLV2 is for the Pentaho platform (meaning : the core engine – xaction engine and some components, understanding all other projects such as Mondrian, JFree or Kettle will keep their own licence type). Along with going to GPL, Pentaho will release a Floss licence for customers and OEM partners … for simple people like me, understanding this change and how it apply is a little bit complicated in terms of “what does this exactly means and why Pentaho did this”, “how is it possible to change a licence type ‘like this'” and “how does this impact our development”, keeping in mind that Pentaho is a commercial Open Source company.

Having read carefully the announcement and how it applies, I think turning to GPL V2 is nice for the Pentaho platform, and it won’t have any impact on our business (correct me if I’m wrong, I understood it means you have to release your code if you perfom enhancement in the Pentaho Platform … things we already did many times in order to improve this Platform).

By the way, I spent again some times in the Open Source licence list : http://www.opensource.org/licenses/and I found it so difficult to really understand what is a good licence type. It reminds me to a discussion I had with an open source promoter when I told him that “too many licences type will kill the Open source licence approach”, and that majority of users only require only a product services. If you think as projects such as salesforce.com, you don’t care any more about salesforce licence, but only use it as a services. Konwn as “Software as Services”, this kind of architecture will simplify your life, as you don’t have to invest times any more to take care about the evolution of the different components of your internal architecture.

Have Fun !

Patrick

Next Level : FreeDashboard Embeded into LifeRay

Dear Readers,

We did it ! We have embeded a FreeDashboard document (both static and dynamic) into Liferay ! And its running well.

We are now in position to offer a Dashboard service that put together Pentaho xaction (basically reports and charts), FreeMetrics Alerts, FreeMetrics KPIs, FreeAnalysis Olap reports and any kind of label / picture / text into a consistent FreeDashboard document, with dynamic filter on top of it. This document can then be managed using Liferay document management services (PDF management, workflow of publication …)

All in one, you can now take benefit of the top features of each platform and provide any kind of layout to publish your results, then design high quality content to be published against your Liferay portail. Just think of this : for those of you who know Liferay ease of use and powerfull features, having a BI system embeded into Liferay, especially a Dashboard Management System, is the best things that could have happen to both world : BI and portails.

FreeDashboard document embeded into Liferay

Stay connected, this is just the beginning …

Have Fun !

Patrick

FreeDashBoard Milestone 2 available

Dear FreeDashBoard Fans !

We have workded hard to have Milestone 2 is available on time. Over the last 2 weeks, since Milestone 1 availability, we have received so many good messages talking about the interest of the product, and how easy it was to build a Pentaho Dashboard using our Designer. We are so happy to have provided this new component to the Pentaho community.

FreeDashboard Designer, our Studio to design Dashboard, is available in version 0.23, and contains many new features :

  • First important thing : we moved our download server … now, you should have more convenient download response time
  • Generated Dashboard are now Internet Explorer compliant
  • We have 2 separated packages : Pentaho Platform and FreeDashboard Designer, which will allow us to make fast update on Designer only
  • We provide an installer for the DashBoard Designer package
  • You can now set your own CSS on each Dashboard
  • We have enhanced the “BI Objects” Wizard whith many new features and components (see screen)

FreeDashbard BI Objects Wizard

To get information on how to download FreeDashboard, simply send a mail to : freedashboard@bpm-conseil.com

Now, its time for developers to take some holidays. But before this, we will release our first “General Availability” for FreeAnalysis Platform. As date of this writting, we are packaging, writting documentation … making the things easier for users !

January will be also very exciting, with the preview release of our FreeDashBoard Web interface … don’t miss i, it’s coming soon !

Have Fun !

Patrick

Pentaho Training in Hong Kong

Hello,

I’m about to leave HongKong, were I was in charge of the first Pentaho Training in Asia, on behalf of Pentaho, for a limited but motivated number of trainees (8 skillfull people). This training was organised by Brainchild, Pentaho partner for the Asia region. I want to thank Patrick Choi for the organisation of this event, and Tom Wix, from Pentaho, for having dedicated this training to me.

This training – ETL&Olap – was really cool ! Trainees have interesting – some high – experience of Open Source technologies, and were happily surprised by the quality and features available in the Pentaho Platform. As usual, leaving after the training is always a sad moment, because you have shared so many things with those people during 4 days, and you may never see them again. This is mostly the case when training is shared with “Open Source pioners” : so much pleasure training & meeting new people … and leaving. I’m certain new questions will come in the next coming days, and we will exchange some nice mails about Pentaho & others big Open Source players.

This training was also an opportunity for me to discover Hong-Kong. So fascinating town, I really had a “coup de coeur” for this town, as never before in any other foreign town. Thanks to Patrick Choi, I have discovered Korean and Chineese restaurants … and I did survived (I was scared having some digest problems … but all was really ok).

Soon back in Europe, I will go on pushing Open Source BI and platforms, waiting for the next opportunity to come back and visit another Asian country

Have Fun,

Patrick

Landscape of Freedom

Dear readers,

It appears that Matt Casters and its crasy super Kettle ETL software reached out an important step in their development cycle. Kettle 3.00 is about to be released, (please read Matt’s blog for additional information), and it will be the first major upgrade for Kettle since its broad adoption by the open source comunity. We are all very excited about this final release, especially since Matt’s presentation in Lyon last week. Second release candidat is already usable, and contains so many interesting new features and performance enhancements. OK, it took me some times to understand the power and interest of lazy conversion, but I’m now sold to this strategy when dealing with large number of records !

3.00 … well, it sounds like “300”, the title of the movie that tells the story of Sparte, a Greece region, engaged in a final war against Persia. 300 motivated soldiers fighting during days for their freedom against thousand of regular, not so motivated soldiers. Message behind the story is welknowned : liberty has a price, in this case the death of many warriors, and freedom can’t be achieved for free. Other message could be that motivation and personal investment can change the world !

Some centuries after this war (and unfortunatly so many others !), Open Source developers are also claiming to defend the Freedom of Software against commercial software. We can have long discussion on this subject, the concept of “liberty”, which should be included in a global package that include “respect for project, product and roadmap”, “respect for customer”, “respect for contributor” …

Is liberty the right for the creator of an Open Source project to froze his development because he has temporary no more time or interest in his project when comunity and customers are waiting for new features, enhancement and bug fixing ? For some customers, liberty is to select commercial products, simply because they can have more choice when selecting an integrator (this is the last thing to improve in our Open Source BI area : having more resources available for integration and development projects … but every day we are converting developers to our open source platform) … liberty, respect, freedom … not only words …

Price is something Open Source developers are paying every day : investment in those projects (because its definitly not a part time job) along with some financial limitation (because I know many Open Source developers who could have better job condition and higher salaries) compare to commercial software developers. But being part of some Open Source projects is more important for them than extra money … and again, Open Source software is not a synonym of free support, free training and free requests development …

In “300”, Greece recovered its liberty when other regions joined Sparte to form a more important army, just when those other regions understood that “winning against Persia was possible”. In our daily devotion to Open Source promotion, situation is the same : freedom is a concept close to knwoledge, and one of our first task is to be certain that potential customers have the knowledge that Open Source products can be a reliable answer in their IT research of a better global low cost solution.

Situation is the same for the FreeAnalysis project : Release Candidate 3 is now available, and training material will be soon available. We are always forecasting to have version 1.0 GA available for the end of november, and one of our hot subject will be now to promote the platform so that customers know that a reliable Open Source Olap alternative is now available, always the knowledge/liberty concepts !

Have Fun !

Patrick

Olivia’s arrival

Good news today !

So many things happened since we’ve started our Open Source adventure, both good things and bad things, and we always tried to make the good things even better, and to work hard to have the bad things becoming “bad old souvenir”

But the best of the best is always the birth of a new baby, so I’m please to announce the birth of Olivia, first daughter of Cédric Claidière, one of our leader in Pentaho and FreeAnalysis implementation. Olivia and Emilie are OK .. they are now starting a new life, from 2 to 3. Cédric has recently started his own blog (only declare is URL : http://claidiere.wordpress.com/) … but didn’t get time enough to post any news. We are now all expecting that Cédric will post some good picture of his baby ! We all send our best wishes to Cédric, his wife Emilie and their baby Olivia.

Sometimes, we post news about “virtual baby”, such as new version of some packages … but let’s come down to earth : this is nothing compare to a real baby !

Have Fun !

Patrick