Friday, March 27, 2009

2009 NBVP Future of Open Source results

The North Bridge Venture Partners 2009 Future of Open Source survey results have been published.

Fascinating for me is slide 13, which shows how the decision criteria for open source have changed from 2008 to 2009. Number one is lower TCO (unchanged). Access to code, which was #2 last year, has dropped to 5th rank in 2009. Now, "Superior Security" is ranked second, up from 7th place in 2008. Third rank is unchanged "Freedom from vendor lock-in" and new this year is 4th rank: "Better quality software".

So open source software is perceived as cheaper, better and more secure than proprietary alternatives. Sounds like a pretty good position to be in for any Open Source vendor.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The CMS Vendor meme - a.k.a. CMS vendor reality check

We have been challenged by Day to participate in the CMS Vendor Meme. To repeat:

The rules
  • A CMS vendor is challenged to honestly answer all items on the "Reality checklist for vendors" suggested by CMSWatch's Kas Thomas (aka the "we-get-it checklist for vendors").
  • If possible the vendor has supply screenshots, links or other means to make it easy to verify the answers.
  • The answers also need to be supplied in a short form of one to three stars (denoting "no", "sort-of", "yes").
  • Answering all questions on his blog allows the vendor tag some other WCMS vendors.
  • A tagged vendor should provide a link back to the blog that tagged him.
So here we go:
1. Our software comes with an installer program - Yes

Yes, download the EE trial and you can choose between various bundles meeting your needs, including an installer. All files are installed in a single folder, no additional software except Java is needed. To uninstall either use the uninstaller installed by the installer, or simply remove the folder.

2. Installing or uninstalling our software does not require a reboot of your machine - Yes

No restart required. Why are you asking?

3. You can choose your locale and language at install time, and never have to see English again after that - Yes

You can chose the installer language, but the default locale when you start up Magnolia is English. You can change that in the user preferences for each user separately, so if you have a globally distributed team speaking 15 different languages, no sweat.

4. Eval versions of the latest edition(s) of our software are always available for download from the company website - Yes

Not only eval versions, but even completely functional versions are available from Magnolia - a free trial of a complete Enterprise Edition or a completely free Open-Source Community Edition is available for immediate download.

5. Our WCM software comes with a fully templated "sample web site" and sample workflows, which work out-of-the-box - Yes

Oh yes. And not only is it a sample site, it is a a production-ready, search-engine-optimized, accessible site that works on any browser. CSS driven. XHTML. State of the art.

6. We ship a tutorial - Yes

We provide all documentation online, including a 300 page user manual. No registration required.

7. You can raise a support issue via a button, link, or menu command in our administrative interface - Yes

Yep, link to our issue-tracker is right in AdminCentral.

8. All help files and documentation for the product are laid down as part of the install - Sort of

All Magnolia documentation is online. Link is right in AdminCentral (see above). As a side-note, I don't think it is a great idea to deliver documentation directly with the product, because it bloats the download and is outdated before it is read.

9. We run our entire company website using the latest version of our own WCMproducts - Sort of

Nearly. Unlike Day, we did not have three years time to release our latest generation of software, and since we just released Magnolia 4.0 last week, I am afraid we did not have time to upgrade our site yet. We'll do it as soon as we have managed to call back all those prospects that inquire about us these days.

10. Our salespeople understand how our products work- Yes

Salespeople? That's a bit last century, no? But the people you talk to know how Magnolia works, because the people you talk to are the people who developed it.

11. Our software does what we say it does - Yes

Of course. We tend to say less and let the software speak for itself though.

12. We don't charge extra for our SDK - Yes

Of course not. We don't even charge for the software unless you want our supported Enterprise Edition.

13. Our licensing model is simple enough for a 5-year-old to understand - Yes

You can get one version for free. You get a better, supported version for 12k $ per server per year. Simple enough for a five year old.

14. We have one price sheet for all customers - Yes

Yes, and Magnolia prices are published on the web. We do give discounts to non-profits and educational clients, though.

15. Our top executives are on Skype, Twitter, or some similar channel, and: Feel free to contact them directly at any time - Yes

CEO Pascal Mangold: Twitter
CTO Boris Kraft: Twitter
... and we are always happy to talk to you on the phone or in person.

And we are tagging:

Jahia, Alfresco, OpenCMS, Hippo, EZ, Core Media, dotCMS

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Magnolia CMS 4.0 Screencast

With Magnolia CMS 4.0, managing the layout of one or multiple Web sites has become as simple and yet as sophisticated as managing content. Designers and programmers have full control over the look&feel of content input and output interfaces within the front- as well as back-end through the browser-based administration interface. They can quickly build custom Web site designs on top of the Magnolia Standard Templating Kit which provides production-ready templates.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Do you ever buy bottled water?

Mark de Visser recently posted about Open Source pricing, asking "Is there a formula for what open source software should cost?".

I don't think there is - or should be - a formula for what Open Source software should cost compared to proprietary software. Foremost, there is rarely an exact proprietary equivalent to an Open-Source offering. Even if there was, the product itself is only part of what you buy. And even within the proprietary world, prices often vary widely for similar products. (Did you ever buy bottled water?)

But I agree that pricing should be straightforward and transparent in general. At Magnolia we originally tried per-user pricing but it quickly turned out to be too complicated, too many questions asked ("what exactly counts as a user"). We have had a per server pricing for the last 2.5 years and we have always published our prices on the web, easy to locate. This way, we minimize our effort, which is a big part of what Open-Source distribution is all about. We focus on the product, not on sales.

Now, this cost reduction can either be propagated to our clients through lower prices or through better software. I don't think the purchase price should be the first reason why you should look at Open Source. If you pay 1000 USD for a car that can only turn left, would you consider that a good deal? Thought so. So the real driver should be value, and the value proposition of Open Source is rather different from the value proposition of closed-source, proprietary software.

The real value of Open-Source is in the its openness, which for true Open-Source products goes far beyond source code availability. Some ideas:

If your IT team is working with an Open-Source product, they will have more interesting and more satisfying work to do and they will learn things that are actually useful for many years to come, as Open-Source products tend to be based on standards. The result is not only cost savings down the road (because your in-house-team can and wants to do more themselves), but also a generally better implementation because you have a motivated team close to the client. Finally, your IT staff turnover is reduced, which further improves your ROI.

So if you pay 20% or 120% for Open-Source compared to a proprietary product has little to do with the value you get. In fact, I would argue that Open-Source provides more value, which is exactly why Magnolia is Open-Source software.