"Count what is countable. Measure what is measureable. What is not measureable, make measureable." -- Galileo

Monday, November 30, 2009

Open Source as Pawns?

Ashlee Vance in today's NY Times writes about the hypothesis of OSS being manipulated by dominant technology companies. 
In some cases, dominant technology companies have used open-source projects as pawns. Google, for example, has needled Microsoft by providing financial support to the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, which oversees of the development of Firefox. I.B.M. has been a major backer of Linux, helping to raise it as a competitor to Microsoft’s Windows and other proprietary operating systems.
Many of the top open-source developers are anything but volunteers tinkering in their spare time. Companies like I.B.M., Google, Oracle and Intel pay these developers top salaries to work on open-source projects and further the companies’ strategic objectives.
The MySQL-Sun-Oracle story is worrisome in this regard.  With SharePoint 2010 getting rolled out to great fanfare, one has to wonder if Michael Olson's statement has merit:  
“A lot of open-source firms are one-product companies, and it’s hard to build a long-term, successful business that way.”
That said, there's a lot of activity in the CMS market these days for "one-trick ponies."  Drupal (1.48%), vBulletin (0.83%), ExpressionEngine (0.38%), and Ektron (0.33%) make up 80% of the 3.79% of all websites surveyed by BuiltWith that have an identifiable CMS. 

And 3.79% of all websites is a huge number--CMS's are definitely here to stay, although I'm stunned that people are still individually handcrafting webpages these days.  (Writing HTML now makes me feel like a monk manually illuminating a single page of a book.)

Plone manages to stay in the top 10, although the BuiltWith data doesn't yet reflect any boost from the recent Packt Awards (there is a slight bump up in the Nov. 15 data).  Likewise Plone is number 6 on CMS Matrix when the lists are sorted by either number of views or compares. 

Running Drupal, ExpressionEngine and Ektron (sorry, no vBulletin info available) through CMS Matrix against Plone, reveals some interesting bits.  Drupal is missing (or limited) in 30 listed features when compared side-by-side with Plone.  Ektron lacks 22 features present (or positively scored) in Plone.  ExpressionEngine is short 66 features that are present in Plone.  Converted to percentages based on 139 features, we have the following shortfalls relative to Plone: 
Drupal -22%
Ektron -17%
ExpressionEngine -47%
Those are pretty wide functional gaps and it doesn't begin to factor in benefits like stronger security, immensely flexible workflow, and UML modeling of content types. 

1 comment:

Lennart Regebro said...

"Many of the top open-source developers are anything but volunteers tinkering in their spare time."

Seems like he thinks that's a bad thing. Obviously he has some weird socialist view of OSS based on people doing it because they are nice. Very strange.