The March of Open Source

  • September 29, 2010
  • Scott

This article from Todd Barr, of Alfresco, made me think again about how open-source software might impact BPM. The point of the article is that VMWare is rumored to be acquiring SUSE Linux from Novell – and that this is evidence of the march of open source into commercial software companies.

I agree.

I think the key issue is one of complements and substitutes.  If you are selling software, you want the complements to your product(s) to be cheaper or free, because those complements *increase* the value of your product.  If you’re selling peanut-butter, you sure would like the price of bread to go down… even to zero.  A better treatment of this subject than Chris Dixon’s blog post about Twitter and Twitter Apps cannot be found.

The only question in BPM is… what are the substitutes… and what are the complements? It depends entirely upon what your primary business is built around.  If you’ve built your business around selling BPM software, then the complements are templates, databases, application servers, development tools, web services… all the other enterprise applications on the market.

If you’re selling one of those other applications or stack elements – then you want BPM to be cheap or free (a complement), because it enhances the value of your offering.

The next few years in BPM are going to be interesting.

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