Webinar: navigating the changing landscape of open source databases

When we published our 2008 report on the impact of open source on the database market the overall conclusion was that adoption had been widespread but shallow.

Since then we’ve seen increased adoption of open source software, as well as the acquisition of MySQL by Oracle. Perhaps the most significant shift in the market since early 2008 has been the explosion in the number of open source database and data management projects, including the various NoSQL data stores, and of course Hadoop and its associated projects.

On Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 11:00 am EST I’ll be joining Robin Schumacher, Director of Product Strategy from EnterpriseDB to present a webinar on navigating the changing landscape of open source databases.

Among the topics to be discussed are:

· the needs of organizations with hybrid mixed-workload environments

· how to choose the right tool for the job

· the involvement of user corporations (for better or for worse) in open source projects today.

You can find further details about the event and register here.

New report: Open to disruption — open source in content management

We have a new report entitled, “Open to Disruption: The Impact of Open Source in Content Management.”  Our purpose with this report is to look at the commercial implications of open source in content management. That is to say, our focus is on the vendors that have tied their business models to the availability of open source code and the customers that are willing to engage financially with these vendors.   The community-run projects (e.g., Drupal, Joomla et al) have a big impact on this market, but they are not the focus here.

I’ve been slogging away on this report for weeks and it has been really interesting to write. I have been covering the vendors making a go with business models tied to open source for several years now, but I never sat down before and tried to look at the market as a whole, to look across the vendors, across the different sectors in content management and across target markets.

Some of the things that struck me and are covered in much more detail in this report are:

  • There is growing acceptance of open source in content management and there are more commercial options for organizations that want (or need) to have a commercial license and/or entity behind the code. More than a dozen vendors are profiled in the report.
  • That said, we’re still in the early days of commercializing open source in content management.  While many of the open source projects in content management are well established, many of the vendors in this report have had fairly significant changes to business models and / or geographic expansion in the last two years.  Most are still fairly small (e.g., no more than $10m in revenue and less than 100 employees), though several are growing quite rapidly.
  • There is a good deal of variety in terms of platforms, market focus (e.g., SMB vs. enterprise) and sector (WCM vs. ECM), though open source has a much stronger showing (and much more accepted) in WCM than in other areas of ECM.
  • Many of the vendors in this sector are moving to or have moved to sales of commercial licenses (even if they don’t call it that) generally of “enterprise” products that extend an open source core.  This is the model that Alfresco follows, with some success, and it is being taken up by a number of other vendors here as well.
  • This isn’t true across the board though and there is certainly no shortage of controversy about this approach.   This report also profiles that are primarily selling support subscriptions for open source code, implementation services or add-on products / extensions.

The report goes into a good deal of depth on what is driving adoption of open source in content management, challenges to adoption that are specific to this sector, the overall vendor landscape and business models the various vendors are applying.  The report also profiles Acquia, Alfresco, Concrete CMS, Day Software, dotCMS, DotNetNuke, eZ Systems, Hippo, Jahia, KnowledgeTree, Liferay, Magnolia, Nuxeo, SilverStripe, Squiz and Umbraco.

Gilbane takeaways: Social merging with WCM, open source on the rise and portals never left us

Such a busy three days at Gilbane Boston this year, I hardly had time to even follow the tweet stream from the event.  I was involved in four sessions and best I can do at this point is to recap a few of the key highlights from each.

The open source session I presented with Seth Gottlieb got some good response and was apt I think given the much larger presence of open source at the show overall this year.  Someone told me (but I didn’t confirm) that last year there were two open source booths on the show floor and this year there were six (dotCMS, Hippo, Nuxeo, Magnolia and Plone were the ones I counted – who am I missing?).  Alfresco and Acquia were notably absent I thought, though were both were represented on a couple of panels.

Open source also came up in the panel I moderated on portals, as we had Chris Stavros from LEVEL Studios there and Chris has done a lot of work with the Liferay portal.  We also had Glenn Mannke, Director of Intranet Development at Starwood Hotels and Resorts, talking with us about how they use Oracle Portal and how embedded this is in their overall infrastructure.  Russ Edelman lent his SharePoint perspective as did John Petersen from Sutro Software who has worked with the Vignette (now Open Text) portal for a number of years.  I’ll sum up the key takeaways from this panel as:

  • Portals never went away, even though the marketing died down.  They were victims of the hype earlier in the decade.  Glenn in particular emphasized how portals are only becoming more important in his organization as the number of tools and apps they manage proliferate.
  • John and Chris likened portals to a new Web OS that delivers application and infrastructure services.
  • We spent some time talking about what those services are exactly and the panelists agreed that identity management and SSO are crucial.
  • There was also some interesting discussion about client-side vs. server-side portals.  Is an app that can aggregate little windows on a screen a portal?  The panelists gave a resounding “no” to this question, given the lack of infrastructure services noted above.
  • And portal standards (e.g., JSR 286) weren’t noted as being particularly important.

I thought portals might also come up on the panel I hosted on social publishing.  This brought WCM vendors together with pure social software plays for a discussion about where these two market sectors are headed.  It was perhaps not quite as heated as I’d hoped, but there was a bit of controversy.  David Carter, CTO from Awareness and Adam Mertz, Product Marketer at Jive, admitted that their systems don’t do WCM and that many customers still need that function (I think particularly for external sites), but that social is important enough to warrant its own layer in the stack.  They argued that WCM systems aren’t architected to support the dynamic nature of social media.  Lars Trieloff from Day Software and Dmitri Tcherevik of FatWire definitely didn’t agreeBryan House of Acquia (Drupal) argued that open source does the best job blending the two.

In general though, I think the panelists agreed that social is becoming part of so many other things (there was some discussion of CRM + social as well).  That still leaves me scratching my head as to the future of the pure social software vendors (I asked if Jive might also get into WCM, but, not surprisingly, didn’t get a direct answer).

SharePoint came up in all of these sessions, as it also did on the analyst panel, not surprisingly as SharePoint has an impact in social, portals, WCM and just about every other aspect of ECM.  Microsoft had a big presence at Gilbane this year, a little surprising to me since Gilbane is generally a pretty WCM-focused show. I had the chance to sit down for about an hour with Ryan Duguid, a Microsoft product manager for ECM in the SharePoint group.  He insisted SharePoint plays in .com-type WCM scenarios and pointed me to this list, which I have seen before.  It’s just doesn’t seem to come up much though in talking with clients and vendors about WCM.  And I don’t see too much in the 2010 release that looks to change that.  Am I missing something?

Overall, a good lively show.  I heard attendance was up and the exhibit hall was full of vendors – there never seems to be a lull in the influx of new vendors to this space.  Lots of interesting conversations about social, open source and online marketing, which all bodes well for a continued vibrant market in 2010.

Open source, portals and social software at Gilbane

The annual Gilbane content management event is two weeks away, slated for December 1-3 here in Boston.   I’ve got a full dance card this year and am busily prepping for several sessions:

The Rise of Open Source in Content Management

Open source guru Seth Gottleib and I will present this session on what’s happening with open source content management.  I’m going to take a very market-focused look, updating some of the work I did in a report (sorry, 451 login required) earlier this year on the group of European (or otherwise international) open source players entering the US market.  I’ll also incorporate some preliminary data being gathered and analyzed now by 451’s CAOS (Commercial Adoption of Open Source) team on open source adoption drivers and benefits generally.  Seth will look at how open source affects both software procurement and selling processes and offer lots of good advice for those contemplating or already working with open source content management software.

Are Enterprise Portals Back?

This panel will no doubt take me back to the days (I hate to say 10 years ago) when I was an analyst dedicated wholly to the enterprise portal market.  Is there even any such thing anymore?  The users and consultants on this panel will discuss that, along with the role of portal (and other) standards, SharePoint and open source.  I’m keen to discuss whether or not portal adoption has ever really waned, even though all the marketing buzz around portals surely died down.  Are the drivers today any different than they were ten years ago?  Or does the rise of social software in fact make portals more useful than ever, as an aggregation technology for social content and functions?  Even if present-day social software vendors steer far clear of the portal lingo…

Social Publishing and WCM

On this panel, some senior folks from Acquia, Awareness, Day Software, FatWire Software and Jive Software will debate the intersection, overlap and potential convergence of social software and WCM.  As it features WCM vendors with a social software play, pure social software vendors and Acquia (Drupal probably comes closest to sitting somewhere in between), it is likely to be a lively discussion.  I hope to get the panelists talking about the difference between community sites and community features and how this distinction can affect product selection, particularly for different use cases.  Is there an ongoing play for social software products that can’t address content management needs?  Or is WCM likely to be overtaken by social alternatives (likely a hard sell to this content management audience)?  Is it really about integration?  Will the markets consolidate?  And where does SharePoint fit in all of this?

And finally, I’ll sit in on the annual analyst panel as well.  It will be a busy couple of days but please do drop me a note if you’ll be there.

Because 20+ data warehousing vendors is never enough

In our recent report on the data warehousing market we speculated that there would soon be a change in the number of vendors operating in what is a crowded market. We were anticipating that the number of vendors would go down, rather than up, but – in the short term at least – we have been proved wrong, as two new open source analytical databases emerged this week.

First came the formation of Dynamo Business Intelligence Corp, (aka Dynamo BI), a new commercially supported distribution, and sponsor, of LucidDB. Then came the launch of InfiniDB Community Edition, a new open source analytic database based on MySQL from Calpont.

We actually included Calpont in our report but its product plans at that time looked precarious to say the least as the company found that its plans to launch a data warehousing platform based on MySQL were overshadowed by Oracle’s acquisition of Sun.

We were somewhat sceptical about whether Calpont – which has had a couple of false starts in the past – would find a way to bring something to market and we are impressed that the company has reached a licensing agreement with Sun that supports its open source and commercial aims.

Specifically the company has arranged an OEM agreement with Sun for the MySQL Community Server version that enables it to be used with both Calpont’s open source and commercially licensed products. The first of those is InfiniDB Community Edition, a column-oriented, multi-threaded data warehouse platform which acts as a storage engine for MySQL.

The GPLv2 Community Edition will only be available for deployment on a single-server and without any formal support from Calpont and is primarily aimed at raising interest among MySQL developers. A fully certified and supported commercial version will follow, although Calpont is reticent about providing details on that at the moment other than that it will make use of Calpont’s massively parallel processing capabilities and modular architecture to scale out as well as up.

Calpont faces some competition in the MySQL segment from Kickfire and Infobright, particularly the latter given their similar open source software strategies (Kickfire is a MySQL appliance). Infobright has has grown rapidly since going open source and now boasts more than 100 customers, although Calpont maintains that leaves plenty of opportunities amongst MySQL users.

We would agree with that, and also with the company’s claim to offer something different from Infobright technologically. Infobright also offers column-based storage but not massively parallel processing (although it is working on a shared-everything, peer-to-peer architecture). We should note that InfiniDB Community Edition is also restricted to a single server but this is the result of a strategic decision, rather than a technical limitation. The commercial version will be fully MPP.

We recently noted that LucidDB is another open source database that is often overlooked since the LucidDB code is not commercially supported.

Any concern over the future of LucidDB following the demise of LucidEra should be put to bed by the formation of Dynamo BI with the intention to provide a commercially supported distribution of LucidDB.

As LucidDB project lead John Sichi wrote:

“This is an offering which has been completely missing up until now, and which I and others such as Julian Hyde believe to be essential for accelerating adoption of LucidDB. LucidEra provided much of the critical development effort, but never offered commercial support on LucidDB since that was not part of its software-as-a-service business model. Eigenbase provides community infrastructure and development coordination, but a commercial offering is not part of its non-profit charter. So in the past, when individuals and companies have asked me whom they should talk to in order to purchase support for LucidDB, I have never had a good answer. “

Meanwhile Nicholas Goodman revealed that the company has acquired the commercial rights to LucidDB and plans to offer DynamoDB as a prepackaged, assembled distribution. It will also be fully open source and all new features will be contributed to LucidDB.

It is very early days for Dynamo BI, which doesn’t even have a website as yet, so it’s difficult to judge the company’s plans, but with some of the lead LucidDB developers involved and a solid starting project – “the best database no one ever told you about” – it has every chance. We’ll be looking to catch up with the company just as soon as it gets up and running.

The data warehousing sector is extremely crowded and we continue to believe that there will be a shakeout in the near future, but there are opportunities for companies that are able to differentiate themselves from the pack. Starting a data warehousing company is generally not something that we would recommend right now, but both Calpont and Dynamo BI have opportunities to establish themselves.

Lowering barriers to data warehousing adoption with open source

Since the start of this year I’ve been covering data warehousing as part of The 451 Group’s information management practice, adding to my ongoing coverage of  databases, data caching, and CEP, and contributing to the CAOS research practice.

I’ve covered data warehousing before but taking a fresh look at this space in recent months it’s been fascinating to see the variety of technologies and strategies that vendors are applying to the data warehousing problem. It’s also been interesting to compare the role that open source has played in the data warehousing market, compared to the database market.

I’m preparing a major report on the data warehousing sector, for publication in the next couple of months. In preparartion for that I’ve published a rough outline of the role open source has played in the sector over on our CAOS Theory blog. Any comments or corrections much appreciated.

Ingres launches project for in-memory, columnar, vectorized database engine

Interesting news from Ingres today that it is teaming up with VectorWise, a database engine spin-off from Amsterdam’s Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) scientific research establishment, to collaborate on a new database kernel project.

The Ingres VectorWise project will create a new open source storage engine for the Ingres Database that will better enable it to be positioned as a platform for data warehouse and analytic workloads, although Ingres does not have detailed plans for the productization of the technology at this stage. The starting point for the project is the theory that modern multi-core parallel processors now look like, and behave like, symmetrical multi processing (SMP) servers, and that on-chip memory is taking the place of RAM, but that database software has not been updated to take advantage of process developments.

In order to do so Ingres and VectorWise will be collaborating on vectorized execution, which sees multiple instructions processed simultaneously, and in-cache processing, through which the execution occurs within the CPU cache and main memory is effectively treated like disk. The result, according to Ingres, is to reduce the I/O bottleneck for query processing. Additionally, the VectorWise engine enables on the fly decompression and operation handling in memory and includes a compressed column store.

It is claimed that the Ingres VectorWise project will deliver 10x performance increases over the current Ingres database.

VectorWise span off from CWI in 2008 to commercialize the the X100 system previously created by its database architecture research group. Development of X100, now also known as VectorWise, has been led by respected research scientists Peter Boncz and Marcin Zukowski.

Ingres maintains that by working with the CWI research scientists it has proven that their theories are technically feasible in a commercial product. Bringing such a commercial product to general availability is the next step, and history has proven that can be easier said than done. With that caveat we are impressed with the vision and ambition that Ingres is demonstrating.

Open source social web content management questions

I want to revisit a few of the relevant questions that came via the webinar I did last week with Bryan House from Acquia on open source social publishing.  We got to some of these on the call, but not all, and some of the more market-level questions seem worthy of sharing.

The webinar focused on both the coming together of social software and WCM, and on open source content management; these questions do too.

Q: Why is open source a disruptive force in the social web CMS space?

I started out my part of the preso talking a little bit about The 451 Group and our focus on disruption and innovation in IT.  I mentioned this includes disruptive technologies, business models or larger market changes.  Open source certainly fits into the disruptive business model category (though, I know, open source is not a business model).   Open source can impact how technology in a particular sector is developed, distributed, procured, priced and supported.  This isn’t new in content management; open source projects like Drupal have been around for quite some time.

But as more vendors are making a go of businesses tied to open source code in content management, the dynamic is changing.  Open source is becoming more of a viable option in content management for even the largest of organizations and that is something that is only going to get more pronounced.   And some of the open source projects (like Drupal and WordPress) seem to do a particularly noteworthy job of tying CMS and social software capabilities (of varying types) together.  An interesting fact, I think, as it shows that when a community drives software development in this area, it combines these two areas together, an indication of what the larger market may want.

Q: Tools like Interwoven or Vignette are often described as more “enterprise-ready” than open source alternatives?  How big is the delta?  How should I evaluate whether particular differences are important?

In general, Interwoven, Vignette et al. have had more of a focus on online marketing capabilities the last couple of years and so have more in the way of content targeting, analytics, multivariate testing and so forth to offer.  But I don’t think this is what people usually mean when they say a CMS is “enterprise ready” — I think that’s more to do with things like LDAP/AD support, migration and upgrade tools, platform/commercial database support and so on.  The reality is that a lot of commercial open source content management vendors do offer these capabilities but often only in an “enterprise” edition of the code that may only be available under a commercial license. The key is just to ensure that a particular distribution meets your requirements under a license that works for your project.

Q: What questions should I ask a vendor to understand how tightly integrated their social software and web content management capabilities are?

There are several models here.  Some vendors have built some social capabilities directly into their WCM products, basically with the idea that most of this as it relates to content sites isn’t too much more than defining a content type (e.g., blog, comment, profile) and its attributes.  Some mostly support plugging in third-party blogs, forums etc.  Others have separate social software modules.  In some cases these have come via acquisitions and others have been built from scratch and so integration levels vary.  Some share a content repository and some don’t.  So there’s quite a bit of variety and, as usual, it’s mostly just important to make sure however a vendor has done it works for your project.  If you just want to add support for comments to an existing content-heavy site, using the integrated features from a WCM vendor probably works fine. If it’s a full-blown, forum-heavy customer support site, more of a stand-alone product (whether from a WCM or social software vendor) might work best.

Q: How will the recent transactions (Vignette & Interwoven) impact this market?

The consolidation at the high end of the market has a number of vendors scrambling to get some advantage.  Competitor FatWire Software has a formal “rescue” program and others are certainly having similar discussions with customers.  Customers looking to migrate or to evaluate a wider field of WCM options may well look at open source, as the broader availability of products from commercial vendors makes this a more viable option.

Upcoming social software & open source events

In the midst of a busy month, working through some really intriguing stuff as part of our upcoming  Special Report on Information Governance, but I’ll also be part of some interesting upcoming events.

On June 17th, I’ll be in NYC taking part in an event being put on by open source CMS provider Squiz, as part of its US launch.   I’ll be presenting on trends in the WCM market with a specific focus on the growth of commercial open source content management.  This ties in somewhat with a report I did earlier in the year (for 451 Group clients), “Open source content management: It’s coming to America.”  This looked mostly at the trend of European open source CMS providers moving to the US market.  Squiz started out in lovely Sydney, Australia but is part of the same trend nonetheless.

Also in the open source realm, on June 18th, I’ll be taking part in a webinar hosted by Acquia, the commercial entity looking to put a commercial support and services for Drupal on the map.  Here we’ll be discussing open source surely but also the increasing overlap between WCM and social software.   This will reprise to some degree the talk I gave on this topic at the AIIM event in Philly earlier this year.

Then of course there is the Enterprise 2.0 show here in Boston, June 23-25.  I have limited time at the conference this year unfortunately (my information governance work beckons), but if you’ll be there drop me a line.

AIIM perspectives

Is there anything new under the ECM sun? I heard lots of folks commenting this week at the annual AIIMExpo that there doesn’t appear to be.  I found some interesting nuggets though; here’s a sampling:

Open source – maybe I seek these ones out but I think the presence of open source at these content management shows is obviously growing – I’ve commented on this before.  I met with Alfresco, KnowledgeTree and Nuxeo (briefly).

I expected to hear a good deal of talk about information governance. I didn’t really, though there were certainly lots of sessions on the agenda in this vein that I missed. Instead I seemed to hear more about “nuts-and-bolts” ECM – customers, this year in particular, seem to be looking to solve specific process problems with specific apps and are less interested in talking about the “E” in content management. Not sure what that means as far as information governance goes, other than there’s an obvious need to tie governance strategies directly to content apps.

SaaS – I met with SpringCM, which has added more partners building apps on its SaaS ECM platform. Hyland Software also notes decent growth for its OnBase OnLine product.

The ECM heavyweights continue to duke it out. No major changes on this front, though Oracle appears to be more of a disruptive force than it was a year ago, as it ties UCM more aggressively (both technically and from a licensing perspective) to its various apps. I met with some Oracle folks that claim a “triple-digit” growth rate for Oracle’s UCM group in Oracle’s FY08 over the revenue previously generated separately by Stellent and Oracle’s ContentDB product.

SharePoint, SharePoint, SharePoint – this pervasiveness is not news really. I didn’t go to any sessions specifically intended to be about SharePoint but still I heard about technologies to ensure disposition policies on SharePoint content, manage enterprise meta data structures tied to SharePoint, extend SharePoint’s ECM functions and so on. I also met with several vendors that basically compete with SharePoint from various angles and such discussions aren’t complete without analysis those competitive strategies.

In general, AIIM seemed quiet to me this year and those manning booths also commented that foot traffic seemed light. Some of that is no doubt simply because travel is being restricted all around, but like others, I wonder a bit about the relevancy of AIIMExpo going forward.  I don’t necessarily think that folks are going to stop going to tradeshows, but perhaps they want events that are more tailored to a particular vertical and/or technology.  AIIMExpo is a bit hard to pin down, covering content technologies at such a high level as it does. There’s a strong focus on apps that include capture and imaging to be sure, but other than that, it’s a bit of a mish-mash. FatWire Software was the only major independent WCM vendor I saw, despite a full WCM track.  And I didn’t see any social software vendors, even though Tony Byrne gave what I heard was a lively session on the topic.

As for my session on WCM + social software, it was somewhat lightly attended, though it was pitted against 9 other sessions (!), so that’s not exactly surprising. But the audience was engaged and we had some good discussion about adding social components to an existing site versus building a community site that sits as something of a separate arm off the main site.

There were lots of heads nodding when I talked about a move to consolidate social tools – for those orgs that have put up a WordPress blog over here and a wiki over there or maybe a discussion forum for customer support, and now wondering how to pull these together for better profile management, content re-use and overall consistency.  This could bode well for WCM vendors already running the main .com site for such a customer, but most WCM vendors still have a ways to go on the social software front.  Something for discussion at the next content management show, I’m sure…