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Archive for April 6th, 2010

Nuxeo: Open Core or Not?

with 14 comments

One of the participants in the latest round of open core bashing was Eric Barroca, CEO of Nuxeo. He chimed in with over 2000 words on why the open core model is ‘fundamentally flawed’ (his words). You can read his post if you click here.

In this post I am not trying to attack him or his company. But I think his post highlights how confusing and subjective this issue is.

Here are a few quotes from his post:

I’m deeply convinced that “open core” is fundamentally flawed

I would add that a subscription-based model (where subscription is for maintenance and support services) is superior (to an open core model)

I believe in clear business models. Successful companies use clear business models because that’s what enable trust from customers. Open core is not one of them: there is no clear line between open source / proprietary, neither serious justification for the customer.

That’s why we – at Nuxeo - won’t use the open core model even if it could increase short term revenue.

So Eric is fairly clear and outspoken about his view of the open core model. The following are snippets from the comments on the blog post

  • James Dixon – Maybe I have this wrong, but doesn’t Nuxeo Connect include ‘Premium Tools’?
  • Eric Barroca – Nuxeo Connect include SaaS. Not tools / code / additional features to apply on the open source software. Pretty much like RedHat for its OS or for JBoss. So, no, we’re not an open core company.
  • Rahul Sundaram – So let’s keep this simple: Is any part of Nuxeo that you sell proprietary code is it all 100% free and open source? Otherwise, the comparison to Red Hat model is invalid.
  • Eric Barroca – 100% of the code we sell / you install and run is LGPL. Period. So I think the comparison is very valid. :-)
Things get cloudy when you read Nuxeo’s marketing materials:
Nuxeo Studio, a newly released configuration and customization environment for Nuxeo open source ECM, is available as a value-added component of the Nuxeo Connect subscription service.
Customers subscribing to Nuxeo Connect are assured of service level agreements for problem resolution, access to certified patches, value-added design, configuration, monitoring and management tools, as well as product updates in accordance with our product lifecycle policy.

When Eric says ‘100% of the code we sell / you install and run is LGPL’, I guess that’s true. But it seems there is code they sell (via SaaS), that is not installed, and is not open.

So compare these two statements:
  • Customers of Nuxeo have access to value-added design, configuration, monitoring and management tools. These features are not open source, they are proprietary, and only available to customers. These features are available via a SaaS offering.
  • Customers of Pentaho have access to value-added design, configuration, monitoring and management tools. These features are not open source, they are proprietary, and only available to customers. These features are available on-premise.

As I understand it, having proprietary extensions to open source software – no matter how many extensions, or how many customers use them, or how they are delivered – makes you an open core company. As far as I see it the only difference between Nuxeo’s model and Pentaho’s model is that Nuxeo’s proprietary extensions are only available as SaaS, whereas Pentaho’s are available on premise.

If Pentaho stopped offering on-premise installations, and only offered SaaS, would Pentaho suddenly no longer be open core?

Do Nuxeo and Pentaho have different models, one open core, one not? If so, how come?

If Nuxeo and Pentaho have the same model, what model is it? Open core or what?

Who’s more confused, me or Eric?

Your thoughts?

Written by James

April 6, 2010 at 4:06 pm

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