Open Source and ECM

I and my team do ECM implementations using tehnology from most of the guys in Gartner’s leaders quandrant. EMC, IBM (both) and MS (cough!).

I can’t say I’m particularly happy with the products they have, but in general those products get us quicker to meet the customer needs. Which needs are not always purely centered on “content” or pure BPM. Content might be just passing through the picture so the solution gets to be tagged “ecm”. The “E” being included because the customer is a big organization, not necessarily because the solution addressed the whole company.

We always strive to get the customer buy the whole ECM concept, since we would really like to to it in most cases. Sometimes we succeed (about 3-4 times a year)… sometimes we don’t… and we get to stick to the “departmental level app on top of a much more powerful platform”.

Every now and then we play with the idea “what if we would build our own ECM?”… Yeah… i know. That’s a subject for another entire blog and forum… hehehe

So we live a normal life inside this space.

We got used to take SharePoint into almost any discussions with a new customer… Anyway, I have used SP in some very nice solutions so… it’s absolutely fine.

These days something strange happened. A private company customer (not a public organization) told us it’s thinking of building its solution on open source. This is the first time I heard a CIO level of a large enteprise discussing the possibility of using Open Source for one of its platforms. I’ve heard this from public / state-owned organizations. But not from a Top100 private company.

I like the idea. The “techie” part in me is thrilled to it. But the “manager” & “real life solution provider” gnomes inside my head start to nod.

I know Alfresco and Nuxeo (just to name some) have nice products and probably a very successful installation base but I have rarely seen them in this area. Maybe the market I’m in is not into it… yet. Who knows.

I’m not judging the technical capabilities. On a lot of items I know already these vendors outperform the “traditional” ones.

I’m worried about the ecosystem around them. About the technical skills to manage installations. About roadmap predictability. About the needed culture change in IT in order to work with it.

And I’m not counting on enthusiasts who can make anything work. I’m thinking of the average IT Joe who needs to be a service manager for such a system. I blogged about difference between Windows and Unix administration tasks. I blogged about the decrease in IT quality. These things count on the “Enterprise” level. You can’t never have enough enthusiasts there (strangely enough, such enthusiasts exist more in the public sector).

At least this is my view, right now. After a beer and looking forward for some sleep.

And to end like in famous tv shows, with some questions:

How is Open Source used in Enterprise level (from the beneficiarry point of view)?

Is it different to sell and implement from the vendor / isv / var point of view?