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Sep 12, 2006

John Newton on the Commoditization of ECM

John Newton's blog post on the commoditization of ECM was so good that I nearly stood up and clapped when I finished reading it. In this article, John talks about how ECM has become commoditized - not to the point where the business problems are easily solved but rather to the point where growth is flat and differentiation is vendor size rather than functionality. As with most commoditized markets open source brings an opportunity to put in infrastructure that provides basic services at reduced cost so that resources are available to invest in integration and deployment.

Alfresco is not afraid of the fact that "size matters" in this mature market with EMC, IBM and Microsoft dominating. He believes that open source gives Alfresco an advantage over the heavyweights because of reduced product development and marketing costs and faster innovation cycles. It is interesting to hear Alfresco talk about open source because they are both consumer and producer of open source and they benefit from both sides. As a consumer, they were able to quickly build their product using best of breed open source components from external projects that they can collaborate and partner with (just like any enterprise can). As a producer they are able to have a longer, more cost-effective reach because their software is freely downloadable: "Open source is therefore able to go farther and broader than even Microsoft to places that commercial software has not been to before, especially Enterprise Content Management."

In drawing parallels with other infrastructure markets, John points out the relational database software and the Java application server markets. Both of these matured into their present state of a massive consolidation of the commercial market accompanied by real opportunities for open source vendors as demonstrated by the success of MySQL, JBoss, and RedHat.

Great blog. I encourage you to read it if you have not already done so.