Lucene Revolution and PLM Open Source Thoughts

Lucene Revolution and PLM Open Source Thoughts

Last week, I attended a conference Lucene Revolution. The show was organized by a company Lucid Imagination, an outfit focusing how to repeat a success Red Hat made with Linux. For those who don’t know Lucid, their business is around a significant piece of  open source Lucene and Solr. These products are all about search and enterprise search. Lucene is a text search engine library, and Solr is an open source enterprise search platform. To learn more about what Lucid is doing, navigate to their website.

Open Source Mojo

This is not a first time, I’m writing and thinking about Open Source. I think, Open Source represents some shifts in software development culture, which is absolutely important to understand. I’ve seen an excellent opportunity to learn about a community behind Lucene and Lucid business. The first I’ve seen is a community of coders. People actually were talking and coding and discussing what they code at the same time. So, here is a very important attribute of open source solution – community, comes into play. Second is customers and solution implementations are working together. Third, a business entity such as Lucid is thinking how to organize and expand this solution to make it more successful. You can see how all these three elements – community, customers and business entity interplay. It was an interesting experience to see working together.

PLM Open Source

Lucene Revolution made me think again about a current situation with Open Source PLM space. I’m aware about multiple Open Source initiatives happens now and, of course, Aras Innovator. I can see a certain interest in this field. However, in my view, all Open Source PLM projects are far from a maturity of libraries or products that can provide a valuable solution for customer. On the opposite side, Aras Innovator, represents a special type of solution that stands between community open source and freeware software. I can see some movement in Open Source PLM. There are few inhibitors – community, scale, and openness. The size of community is absolutely critical. The solution needs to be a viral and open to be adopted by a wide community of customers and supporter. Openness seems to be an obvious, but not simple.

What is my conclusion? There are two main questions I tried to answer: 1/what is the potential of FOSS models in enterprise and business software? 2/ what type of unique transformation needs to be done in Open Source to make it viable as a PLM solution for enterprise companies? My short answer on the first question is “licensing cost”. This is what, in my view, drives PLM Open Source now. I think, ROI of PLM solutions is a slow and “free license” is much more important word in PLM Open Source game now. The answer on a second question is more complicated. PLM industry needs to find something that answers the following criteria – mature solution, high level adoption rate and a community of coders that will be ready stand behind this solution. I’m not sure we have one answer this… yet. Just my thoughts.

Best, Oleg

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  • Hi oleg,
    ok you already know i’m not a big fan of the Open Source software concept, I prefer commercial well documented software with reasonnable royalty system for third party tool developpers. I was going on one of my favorite electronic website which is sparkfun.com where a lot of information is open (schematics, software and hardware sources…). Last month they organized the Open Hardware summit (http://www.openhardwaresummit.org/) in New York, NY. And step by step they are converging to a shared definition of what “Open” means for electronic.
    So ok electronic is a bit different as you’ll always have to buy components for each project.
    What i found very interesting is in this page : http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/news.php?id=456 they give a definition of both: Open Hardware and Open Source Hardware. And Open Hardware is just what I need. So I went back on google and typed “Open Software” and guess what! I can’t find anything else than just “Open Source Software”. I think we should concentrate on creating a definition of Open Software. What is the level of documentation and what are the rules you can’t use to block other developpers to connect to your solution? These kind of questions.

    Best,
    Yoann

  • beyondplm

    Yoann, thanks for brining the concept of Open Hardware into this discussion. I think it is an important and interesting initiative. I have to tell, that I like your definition of Open Software. However, I found it too broad. I can expect a significant disagreement between people from different companies claiming that they are “open”. Best, Oleg

  • Oleg,On the OSI website there are 67 Open Source license validated. I think you might have twice this number for licences that are self proclaimed as Open Source but are not really. So i think there are some disagreement. And do we have any history of people going to court for Open Source licence issue?I think for Open Software it shouldn’t be a license, there shouldn’t be any obligation in this concept. It should be an evaluation. Let’s use social media to create this evaluation or independent fundations in order to say how much Open a software is, based on the documentation, the API completeness, the level of abstraction of these APIs…
    And from my point of view regarding PLM, that’s where Aras works really well. So people can discuss the licence and every thing about Innovator or other software. I don’t really care about that. When i meet leads we talk about the software capabilities and what we can change in it and develop around it, not about the licence.
    Best,Yoann

  • beyondplm

    The question of licensing is a complicated one. Legal entity cannot dismiss legal topics from the table. Probably, the fact it is free, simplified the story and make it easier to proceed. It allows, as you mentioned, “talk about the software capabilities and what we can change in it and develop around it, not about the licence”. In Open Source, licenses play a role of police by defining rules about what you can do with this software. I think, concepts of Open Source and Free Software are still very early in the beginning, and it will take a lot time and experiments to find a right combination. The main question is a consumer’s perception about what we need to buy and what should be free. For example, we are paying for computer software. But, at the same time, we are not paying for TV-software (imagine, if tomorrow you’ll need to buy a software to run on your TV ;)). There are many other examples. Appliance selling is another try to sell software as TV-boxes. In the end, it is about what can be acceptable for customers.

  • Well Oleg, on that point I can’t disagree more with you 🙂 !!!
    “what should be free” ??? why do you think some stuff should be free??? I don’t get it. Regarding the TV. Of course you’re paying the software. It’s just not detailed on your invoice but trust me on the manufacturer side they know how much money you gave for the software. It’s financial controlling you need to affect every cost on every revenue. Something which has a cost can’t be free. In the case of free software, it’s free for the customer but cost to the programmer. The whole Open Source is different. The software is not free, it’s just getting paid a different way. If the programmers are not getting the money, they can’t live from their software and they can’t keep working on it.

    I just agree on the consumer perception, there are a lot of things you don’t want to pay for. As an example i would take the difference i’ve seen between the US and France. When you arrive in the US, it seems that you have to pay all the time. And when a foreigner comes in France he thinks he gets a lot of free stuff. but in fact we pay it in our taxes. So we pay the same things, but the user perception is different (socialism /capitalism :-)). But to come back on softwares, why should somebody think some software should be free? They think that because some people have made free softwares and made believe it could be free.

    I really don’t get why you’re so much into Free.
    I’m not using so many free softwares and for the ones I’m using i would have paid for these because it brings me value.

    Best,
    Yoann
    ps: I’m planning to come in massachussets some day soon. I think we should meet there.

  • beyondplm

    Yoann, I see “free” as a paradigm shift in a way you consume things. Like your example about France- you pay in your taxes. The same about TV- you pay when you buy TV. In my view, this is not about how to get things for “free”, but about how to build an alternative business model. I can give few examples – you can buy tires for your car and pay for milage, you can buy a computer with pre-installed software, you can get internet access as part of your municipal contract, etc. Each example contains an issue of price and fairness, and it translated into consumer experience. This issue is heavily missed in the enterprise software today. Most of the customers, assumes software companies charge high-prices for software licenses and then charge a maintenance fee for bug fixing. Just my thoughts… No conclusion yet. Best, Oleg. PS. Tell me when you are in Mass. I’d be glad to meet you.