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Lighting the Fuse for an Enterprise FOSS Explosion

Lighting the Fuse for an Enterprise FOSS Explosion

The role of open source for enterprise and service providers has never been more powerful. Whether it's in terms of virtualization, cloud computing or mobile, the rise in interest and mainstream acceptance of open source is clear. One outfit actively pursuing the growing opportunities in the open source world is FuseSource, a company that recently gained a new degree of independence from owner Progress Software.

The FUSE family of software is now under the FuseSource name and has gained new autonomy from Progress Software with its own corporate identity.

Part of the IONA Technologies acquisition by Progress Software in 2008, FuseSource has now become its own company, owned by Progress, but now more independent, to aggressively pursue its open source business model and to leverage the community development process strengths.

In anticipation of the news, our discussion here targets the rapid growth, increased relevance, and new market direction for major open source middleware and integration software under the Apache license.

We'll also look at where FuseSource projects are headed in the near future. [NOTE: Larry Alston also recently joined FuseSource as president.]

Even as the IT mega vendors are consolidating more elements of IT infrastructure, and in some cases buying up open source projects and companies, the role and power of open source for enterprise and service providers alike has never been more popular or successful. Virtualization, cloud computing, mobile computing, and services orientation are all supporting more interest and increased mainstream use of open source infrastructure.

Here now to discuss how FuseSource is therefore evolving, we're joined by Debbie Moynihan, director of marketing for FuseSource; and Rob Davies, director of engineering for FuseSource. The discussion is moderated by BriefingsDirect's Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.


Listen to the podcast (31:11 minutes).

Here are some excerpts:

Debbie Moynihan: Over the past couple of years, there has been a lot of focus on cost reduction, and that resulted in a lot of people looking at open source who maybe wouldn't have looked at it in the past.

The other thing that's really happened with open source is that some of the early adopters who started out with a single project have now standardized on FuseSource products across the entire organization. So there are many more proof-points of large global organizations rolling out open source in mission-critical production environments. Those two factors have driven a lot of people to think about open source and to start adopting open source.

Then, the whole cloud trend came along. When you think about scaling in the cloud, open source is perfect for that. You don't have to think about the licensing cost as you scale up. So there are a lot of trends that have been happening and that have really been really helpful. We're very happy about them helping push open source into the mainstream.

From a FuseSource perspective, we've been seeing over 100 percent growth each year in our business, and that's part of the reason for some of the things we're going to talk about today.

Rob Davies: We've been around in this space for a while, but the earlier adopters who were just trying out in distinct groups are now rolling this out into broader production. Because of that, there is this snowball effect. People see that larger organizations are actually using open source for their infrastructure and their integration. That gives them more confidence to do the same.

I recently spoke to a large customer of ours in the telco space. They had this remit. Any open source that came in, they wouldn't put into mission-critical situations until they kicked the tires for a good while -- at least a couple of years.

But because there has been this push for more open source projects following open standards, people are now more willing to have a go using open source software.

In fact, if you look at the numbers of some of our larger customers, they are using Apache ServiceMix and Apache ActiveMQ to support many thousands of business transactions, and this is business-critical stuff. That alone is enough to give people more confidence that open source is the right way to go. ...

When you look at cloud, there are different issues you have to overcome. There is the issue about deploying into the cloud. How do you do that? If you're using a public cloud, there are different mechanisms for deploying stuff. And there are open source projects already in existence to make that easier to do.

This is something we have found internally as well. We deploy a lot of internal software, when we are doing our big scale testing. We make choices about which particular vendors we're going to use. So, we have to abstract the way we are doing things. We did that as an open source project, which we have been using internally.

When you get to the point of deploying, it's how do you actually interface with these things? There is always going to be this continuing trend towards standards for integration. How are you going to integrate? Are you going to use SOAP? Are you going to use RESTful services? Would you like to use messaging, for example, to actually interface into an integration structure?

You have to have choice. You can't really dictate to use it this way or the other way. You've got to have a whole menu of different options for connecting. This is what we try to provide in our software.

We always try to be agnostic to the technology, as much as how you connect to the infrastructure that we provide. But we also tend to be as open as we can about the different ways of hooking these disparate systems together. That's the only way you can really be successful in providing something like integration as a service and a cloud-like environment. You have to be completely open.

Moynihan: Progress is launching a new company called "FuseSource" that will be completely focused on the open source business model. We're really excited as a team. The FuseSource team has been an independent business unit, since IONA was acquired by Progress Software. We have been fairly independent within the company, but separated as our own company we'll be able to be completely independent in terms of how we do our marketing, sales, support, services and engineering.

When you're part of a large organization, there are certain processes that everyone is supposed to follow. Within Progress, we are doing things slightly differently -- or very differently depending on the area -- because the needs of the open source market are different. So being our own company we'll have that independence to do everything that makes sense for the open-source users, and I'm pretty excited about that.

From a practical perspective, the business model is very different. In traditional enterprise software sales, there is a license fee which is typically a large upfront license cost relative to the entire cost over the lifetime of that software. Then, you have your annual maintenance charges and your services, training, and things like that.

From an open source perspective, typically upfront, there is no license cost. Our model is that there is no license cost. It's a subscription support model, where there is a monthly fee, but the way that it is accounted for and the way that it works with the customer is very different. That's one of the reasons we split out our business. The way that we work with the customers and the way they consume the software are very different. It's a month-to-month subscription support charge, but no license charge.

That's also the reason people like cloud. You pay as you go. You scale as you go. And you don't have that upfront capital expenditure cost. For new projects, it can be really hard to get money right now. All these benefits are why we're seeing so much growth in FuseSource.

While we do have some level of product management for open source, a lot of it is based around packaging, delivery, licensing and these types of things, because our engineers are hearing directly from customers on a moment-by-moment basis. They're seeing the feedback in the community, getting out there, and partnering with our customers. So from an economic perspective, the model is different.

Now, being backed by Progress Software provides us the benefit that customers can have that assurance that we're backed by a large organization. But having FuseSource as standalone company, as you said, gives us that independence around decision making and really being like a startup.

We'll be able to have our own processes in any functional area that we need to best meet the needs of the open source users.

Davies: From a technical perspective, it's really good for us. The shackles are off. There's a lot of suddenly reinvigorating that seems to move forward. We've got a lot of really good ideas that we want to push out and roll out over the coming year, particularly enhancing of the products we already have, but also moving onto new areas.

There's a big excitement, like you would expect when you have got a startup. It just feels like a startup mentality. People are very passionate about what they're doing inside FuseSource.

It's even more so, now that we have become autonomous of Progress. Not that working inside Progress was a bad thing, but we were constrained by some of the rigors and procedures that you have to go through when you are part of a larger organization. Because those shackles have been taken away, it means that we can actually start innovating more in the direction we really want to drive our software too. It's really good.

Moynihan: From a customer perspective, this change will have a small but significant impact. We are continuing to do everything that we have been doing, but we will be able to have even more independence in the way that we do things. So it will all be beneficial to customers.

We have also launched a new community site at FuseSource.com, which we're pretty excited about. We were planning to do that and we've been working on that for several months. That just provides some additional usability and ability to find things on the site.

Overall, it will be really good for our customers. We've talked with them, and they're pretty excited about it.


Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, which tracks trends, delivers forecasts and interprets the competitive landscape of enterprise applications and software infrastructure markets for clients. He also produces BriefingsDirect sponsored podcasts. Follow Dana Gardner on Twitter. Disclosure: FuseSource sponsored this podcast.


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