In the enterprise open source space, a notable change came to light today affecting Compiere users and partners. Consona announced its acquisition of Compiere.
Compiere started back in 1999. One of its founders explained to me that the company’s business (circa 2004) largely came from support, migration, and priority requests from clients. An integral component of the delivery model was Compiere’s partners. So Compiere focused on providing second-level support to their network of local partners. These areas are where I’m most curious about Compiere’s move to the Consona fold.
These business characteristics are often associated with open source business models; over time such models have evolved to capture some other forms of revenue (noted as well in the Enterprise System Spectator blog post on the topic). It seems obvious looking at Compiere’s web site that it evolved toward trying to capture SaaS clients. This doesn’t change the open source fact of Compiere and one of the most important aspects of software available through open source licenses is the community. In a commercial situation, this community ought to be valuable to the vendor–helping to push the development direction and a potential source of innovation.
I find it interesting then that scanning Compiere’s forums over the last few months, if not longer, questions seemed to go unattended. Even recent questions about Compiere that might have led to business for the company appear to have been left unanswered. I can’t help but wonder why Compiere wasn’t addressing its community?
Additionally, Compiere’s community wiki and development initiatives page doesn’t appear to have been updated much either. Perhaps I missed something but from an outsider’s perspective, it seems like the company wasn’t extremely involved in fostering its community in recent months or years.
And so I wonder how this may or may not change with Compiere joining Consona. Consona operates under the more traditional proprietary software model. Will it rise to the occasion of managing the community it’s stepping into? Consona barely mentioned the open source aspects of Compiere in its press release. The PR really spends more time caring about the SaaS side of things.
In other words, I’m musing on the direction Consona will take here. As mentioned, open source is a fact of Compiere, and for all of the promise that might rest in the SaaS potential of the product, if the open source side isn’t supported, and the system is indeed still a going concern, I bet we’ll see some interesting forks take place (the ERP Graveyard blog has more in this direction).
Of course, historically Compiere’s ERP system has been more adapted toward distribution, retail, and professional services industries, while Consona offers some solutions with recognizable strengths in manufacturing. In that sense, this combination helps round things out a bit more (evaluate some of their versions on our site). Consona can certainly take this opportunity as more than a way to strengthen their various industry offerings, by recognizing some of the more powerful aspects of the open source model, and foster them.
If you’re a Compiere partner or user, please do share your informed take on this.
“I bet we’ll see some interesting forks take place”
Probably not, they took place years ago - see ADempiere and OpenBravo.
You might be interested in details and background: