6 responses to “Plug and Play Open Source Business Applications In the Cloud”

  1. Krish


    I completely disagree with your point #1

    “No innovation. Most open source software for end-users are created from the goal of offering a free and open alternative to established proprietary software.”

    Let us take the case of browser. It was in an abysmal state till Firefox came along and changed it from a tool that helps you click a link and go to a bland page into a platform that helps you live in the clouds. In fact, I could use the same arguments against proprietary software too.

    Innovation doesn’t lie in eye candy. It lies in functionality. I would prefer to have a not so glittery Android phone that allows me to customize the way I want over iPhone that doesn’t even allow me to change the ringtone for Email notifications unless I jailbreak it.

    Proprietary software might be useful in a monolithic world where all users are trained to just do things in one way. But world is diverse and there is no way proprietary software can live up to this diversity.

    Secondly, Open Source stack is the one that drives cloud based services today. It is not necessary for open source software to have eye candy glittery stuff that satisfies the fantasies of ordinary users. It goes much beyond that in a deeper manner to provide great innovation. Open Source software is more like Science and Proprietary software is more like everyday products we use. When scientists first made the equivalent of toothpaste in the lab, I am pretty sure ordinary users would have never thought of putting it in their mouth. But it got perfected in the laboratories and polished in the factories of Colgate and others and entered into the life of users. It doesn’t mean science is useless and the factories of Colgate are the nerve center of innovation.

    Open Source software is not competing with proprietary software at all. It is just doing what is right for people. ie., giving the power to them instead of handful of executives in the corporate politburo.

    I hope I explained it properly here. If not, buzz me. I will try to put it in a more coherent fashion.

  2. Krishnan Subramanian

    Also, SugarCRM and vtiger are two CRM products that are opensource. They also offer hosted versions of the software. There are open source versions of software like Basecamp too. I have seen some open source accounting software but not sure about hosted version.

    Also, you can use Amazon EC2 and install pre-packaged AMIs of may open source software. Else, you can use one of those service providers like CohesiveFT or Jumpbox to install these open source software in the cloud with few clicks.

    Talking of innovation on Cloud front, we cannot deny the fact that Wikis have transformed the lives of individuals to enterprises. It has open source roots and open philosophy. There are plenty of open source innovations and it might even outnumber proprietary ones. They are just not glittery. In fact, they need not be.

  3. Espen Antonsen

    Firefox is a great example of open source software that does it right. Unfortunately it is one few. SugarCRM is also one of the better ones. But again; that is not the case for most open source business software.

    Firefox has not really brought that much innovation to the browser. I think for example Opera (tabs, mouse gestures, speed) has done more than Firefox in that manner.

    I am a big believer in open source software and I think that in the future that most successful and innovative applications will be open source. But currently that is clearly not the case IMHO.

    “Open Source software is not competing with proprietary software at all” Not entirely sure what you mean by that but open source software compete with proprietary software. For me as a users I don’t care if it is open source, all I want is the best tool for the job. If there are two tools that are pretty much the same except one is open source, then I would however choose the latter. However one advantage with open source is that it can gain a community based on customization, extensions, and with frequent contributions to the software. That by itself can lead to an advantage of proprietary software.

  4. Krishnan Subramanian

    Hi Espen,

    Your comparison with Opera again talks about glitter than some hardcore functionality. For example, Firefox changed browser from being just a browser to being a platform. Thatz what matters most when it comes to innovation than stuff like tabs. Even IE could do tabs. What I was talking about is the transformative innovation brought forward by open source projects like Firefox. As I told in my first comment comparing Open Source with Science, stuff like tabs, bells and whistles can be done by anyone and everyone. The real innovation lies in bringing about paradigm shifts in the way we use software and Open Source is doing great in this area. This is the point you highlighted in the last part of your comment and, in fact, thatz what matters. Empowering users to have it like they want it. Making a shiny toy is no big deal. A company employing slave laborers can do it with ease. Innovation is different from shiny toys and Open Source has done really great in this area.

    When I said open source is not competing with proprietary software, I meant in terms of marketshare. Some people in the Open Source world might talk about it but thatz not the reason developers do Open Source. They do it to rub their own itch than making an ego statement with a proprietary vendor.

  5. Krishnan Subramanian

    BTW, Espen. Thanks for waking me up. I was planning to start the Open Source and Cloud Computing series for a long time. Today’s discussion with you finally forced me to start it 🙂