During the past five years, here at Nuxeo, we have built some of the largest
e-government projects by providing great ECM
solution for french ministries or governmental agencies. Today, CPS is the mainstream ECM
Framework in the french administration. This success has naturaly lead lot
of industrial companies to consider open source ECM as a suitable
alternative. But they still have lot of questions about open source. The
licencing model is one of those, but they also want to understand the
business model that sustained Open source companies or Open source vendors
such as Nuxeo. A big part of my job consists to explain how open source ECM
solutions may benefit them. And most of the time, it works :)

When you’re talking with this kind of clients, you’re not talking to
early adopters. They got internal processes, quality is the core of their
businesses. They don’t have time to try, they want solutions that work and
the most important they want solutions that can make them save money.

For them the choice of open source has to be a smart move in a cost
oriented strategy motivated by ROI (I had to
unleash the “R” word). These words may sound a little too marketingly
correct, but believe me when it’s time to kick Documentum’s ass they are big
part of the picture.

I’m not talking about revolution here but only how to optimize IT
investment in ECM.

Services and only services !

What do we sell to our client ? We don’t sell the software and we don’t
sell neither the right to use it. All of that is free. What we’re providing
to our client is services to fulfill their needs. In our business model the
software is only the very apropriate medium to provide these services.

What determines the cost of an open source project ? The cost is defined
exclusively by your needs and how far they are from the framework you are
using. Generaly, it’s based on three factors :

  • Framework adaptation

  • new component development

  • Integration in a global system

When you are using an easily extensible and mature framework, as CPS, the
service cost is not very different from non open source vendor. But what I’m
talking about here is services and only services... This is the only thing
you have to pay for : productive work and nothing else (no payable usage
right, no lincence cost, etc.).

When you are using a proprietary ECM solution you need to pay licences.
The amount of these licences may double the cost of your project because
it’s not directly based on what you need but on other criterias like the
number of users accessing the application,, the number of servers running
and sometimes even the number of processors you need to make it work.

The cost analisys of a project cannot be limited  to the build
phase, because after building it you’re supposed to use it. That’s what we
call the run period, and that’s when open source application becomes an
amazing source of benefits. You don’t have to pay anything to enjoy your
application. Even the support services are an option. Your application may
become a success and be adopted by lots of your employees to make them work
faster and reuse their knowledge efficiently without extra cost.

What I'm saying here isn't about big maths, I’m sure I don’t need to get
further... You already got me.

And what about subscription ?

Another alternative offered by open source ECM is that you can use
out-of-the-box solutions.

At Nuxeo, we’re implementing several packaged applications like CPS
Courrrier or CPS OpenSpace. Feel free to download them and of course to use
them. I’m pretty sure you’re going to enjoy them. But that’s not the point
of this post.

When you are using an application in an industrial context, you need to
be sure that you’re going to get all the support and all the functionnal and
technical help you need. I think that an open source vendor has to provide
such professional services. So here at Nuxeo, we have already launched
training and certification programs and we’re about to unleash our
subscription program. I will talk about it as soon as it will be fully

Subscription model provides lots of advantages for companies. It helps
them manage the application, test it, upgrade it, resolve the problem they
encounter by using it. But most of all, it gives them the insurance that
their application will work the way they want to.

Like Eric B. and Rakim
said before, you got to follow the leader. Top open source companies like Jboss and Redhat have adopted this business model,
it simply works well and provides a great professional open source
experience to their client.

And what about a conclusion ?

At Nuxeo we believe that realizing projects allows us to constantly
innovate and create client oriented applications and not only secret labs
powered ones. By acting on the field, we’re able to know what the market
want and how to lead the software evolution. Projects and subscriptions are
complementary activities and we have to provide both of them.

Why open source is a smart move for companies looking for professional
ECM solution ? Because it’s cost oriented and only depends on your needs and
now you can rely on open source software vendor like Nuxeo to get
professional services. Moreover, it’s up to you to make the move you judge
as the smartest one...

(Post originally written by Arnaud Lefèvre on the old Nuxeo blogs.)