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IBM just announced Lotus Connections. According to this article in Business Week, Lotus Connections wraps five social networking technologies up into one integrated package: profiles, where employees post information about their expertise and interests; communities, which are formed and managed by people with common interests; activities, which are used to manage group projects; bookmarks, where people share documents and websites with others; and blogs.
Microsoft was quick to reply with a press release announcing new tools that will help IBM Lotus Notes users migrate to Microsoft SharePoint 2007.
So we have Microsoft SharePoint 2007 versus IBM's Lotus Connections. But how is IBM going to compete with SharePoint's many third-party hosted service providers? Or with Google for that matter (think Google calendar, Google spreadsheets, Google's Blogger, Google search, Google pages, Google wiki/JotSpot, ...)?
With that in mind, now consider this. Many organizations have been experimenting with Drupal and see real benefits from using it. They are begging for reliable support. One or two years from now, they'll be begging for better integration with their existing tools and platforms.
It doesn't take a whole lot of IBM'ers to get Drupal to talk with Lotus Connections, to get Drupal up to par with SharePoint, or for IBM to become the world's premier Drupal support company. It is a small investment for a win-win situation.
IBM embraced Linux so they know how to do this, and they know how well that worked. It helped IBM turn around some of its business and strengthened their position in the server market. The battle has since moved up the stack and Lotus is to Drupal what AS/400 was to Linux. It will be interesting to see if IBM is going to repeat history and embrace an open source alternative.
The European Commission published an interesting study on the impact of Free and Open Source Software on the European economy (PDF, 287 pages). Based on an empirical study of the European IT market and forecasting techniques, the following is one of many interesting conclusions:
Proprietary packaged software firms account for well below 10% of employment of software developers in the US, and "IT user" firms account for over 70% of software developers employed with a similar salary (and thus skill) level. This suggests a relatively low potential for cannibalisation of proprietary software jobs by FLOSS, and suggests a relatively high potential for software developer jobs to become increasingly FLOSS-related. FLOSS and proprietary software show a ratio of 30:70 (overlapping) in recent job postings indicating significant demand for FLOSS-related skills.
I can't speak for other projects but Drupal is in high demand, and there is a shortage of talented Drupal developers and consultants on the market.
Either way, make sure you can put "solid understanding of open source software development" on your resume. It increases your market value. And you'll have more fun too.
Bert Boerland predicts: Within 3 years the acronym "CMS" won't mean "Content Management System" anymore but will be redefined to "Community Management System".
Markets are more likely to fragment than to consolidate so I think both will co-exist and inevitably overlap. That said, I agree with the notion that community software will continue to emerge and that content isn't king. And to contribute to the disorderly jumble that is the CMS acronym, may I suggest a third term: Collaboration Management System. It might be a better match.
Especially the introduction of SharePoint 2007 might have significant impact on this particular market. SharePoint 2007 adds features like forums, blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, news aggregation, surveys, issue tracking ... but also install profiles and custom content types. Clearly, Microsoft decided to play catch up. And rumor has it that the improved integration with Microsoft Office and Microsoft Outlook is jaw-dropping.
Drupal's document management functionality and integration with tools like Microsoft Office and OpenOffice is severely lacking. As it stands, Drupal is not a good SharePoint alternative, yet there is quite a bit of overlap in terms of functionality. It sure makes for an interesting situation.
I wonder what impact the introduction of SharePoint 2007 will have. What was once an important Drupal differentiator (i.e. bundling a wide variety of functionality into a single platform) will finally become commodity in 2007. Instead, seamless integration with other applications might become essential to compete? Interesting times!
Taken from this press release at News Yahoo!:
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said on Monday his for-profit company, Wikia Inc., is ready to give away -- for free -- all the software, computing, storage and network access that website builders need to create community collaboration sites.
The press release mentions that Wikia considers including support for Drupal. I have since talked briefly to Jimmy Wales, and they would like to reach out to the Drupal community and Drupal experts to help figure out how they can make that happen ...
As web content management systems and blogging tools become commodity, mass hosting and deployment services (i.e. installation, configuration, upgrading, patching, cloning, import and export, backup and restore, customization, compliance tracking, etc) will become increasingly important.
Smart as we are, we already started taking Drupal into that direction, and much of that will be rolled out with Drupal 5. ;-) There is a tremendous amount of experience to be gained, but also a significant amount of Drupal work left to be done. I'm looking forward to help work on this more and I hope other people do too. Hot stuff!
Eben explained the Plone community why he thinks that managing content is not important, and why managing community is. He believes that community-driven development will become increasingly popular and vastly superior compared to software developed by a single commercial entity. Hence the need for software and infrastructure that allow organizations to build large communities for a certain period of time.
We are moving to a world in which in the 21st century the most important activities that produce, occur not in factories, and not by individual initiative, but in communities, held together by software.
You can't sell Drupal, or any modification you made to Drupal. You can charge money for having to make these changes but you can't make these changes available under a commercial license. Why not? Because Drupal's license, the General Public License 2 (GPL 2), mandates that all modifications also be distributed under the GPL.
But when you are providing a service through the web using GPL'ed software like Drupal, you are not actually distributing the software. You are providing access to the software. Thus, a way to make money with Drupal is to sell access to a web service built on top of Drupal. This is commonly referred to as the web services loophole.
Some people say this loophole is inconsistent with the values of the Free Software movement. Others think of this loophole as an interesting feature. I'm in the latter camp. In fact, I predict that 2007 will bring a small tsunami of Drupal distributions built around a hosted service model.
Fact is, when the GPL was created 15 years ago, it did not really predict a world of web services. Version 3 of the GPL, expected to be released in 2007, will tackle this issue. It will allow developers to add an optional clause to the license that requires hosted service providers to share the source code and their modifications. This optional clause can be found in section 7.b.4 of the most recent draft of the GPL 3 (subject to change):
Additional requirements are terms that further constrain use, modification or propagation of covered works. This License affects only the procedure for enforcing additional requirements, and does not assert that they can be successfully enforced by the copyright holder. Only these kinds of additional requirements are allowed by this License: ... snip ... 4) terms that require, if a modified version of the material they cover is a work intended to interact with users through a computer network, that those users be able to obtain copies of the Corresponding Source of the work through the same network session.
Personally, I don't see us adding such a clause to Drupal. It doesn't bode well with the way people use Drupal, or any content management system for that matter. Here is just one example: most people theme their sites by downloading and modifying one of the available GPL themes. If we were to add the additional clause, this would no longer be desirable, because you'd be forced to share all your modifications, including your theme's. It is problematic when you want to create a unique site or brand.
So long live the web services loophole!
It is both surreal and rewarding to stumble upon <a href="http://www.spikesource.com/solutions/contentmgmt.html">an exhibitor that sells "your stuff"</a> on a conference you are attending. Interesting <a href="http://www.spikesource.com/solutions/calculators/drupalwcm.html">TCO calculator</a> too ...