Business & Technology Nexus

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Archive for the ‘Open Source’ Category

Transfigured Open Source

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A few years ago, Linux appeared to be headed towards dominance in the server OS market. At the same time, MySQL “broke out” and seemed on its way towards making databases free. At layer after layer in the technology stack, open source was cool & moving forward.

So much so that vc-backed companies formed and grew taking traditional enterprise software or technology areas and professionally building and running open source project versions.

Here in 2009 the scene has changed. It feels very different.

For open source software companies expecting customers to choose to “pay” for “free” software, the bait-and-switch mindset which was so inevitable is more exposed.┬áImho, this is a good thing, as it frees the open source movement from a moral gray area where companies offered products for free but were incented to somehow cause those products to need other services or support to make them complete & functional.

Microsoft’s server OS seems to be faring better than expected vs. Linux. And Oracle has been very active, acquiring InnoDB (the jugular of MySQL), offering enterprise support for RedHat Linux (exposing the lack of intellectual property in RedHat’s business model), and then swallowing Sun to take Java & MySQL in full.

This leaves us in an interesting spot, where we seem to have only 2 viable technology stacks left – one from Microsoft and the other from open source + Oracle / IBM. IBM has growing gaps while Oracle seems strengthened in the enterprise.

As a fan of Ruby on Rails and other script-based languages, it will be a telling 2010 to see whether the market will consolidate around .Net and Java or whether choice continues & the tools market remains fragmented…


Written by Dave Stephens

07/25/09 9:17 PM at 9:17 pm

Posted in IT, Open Source, Opinion

Don Klaiss, The New Face of Compiere!

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I’ve known for awhile now, but wanted to wait for the Press Release to congratulate Don publicly for taking over as CEO of Compiere. Jorg Janke, Founder, has done an amazing job over the years building an ERP system with nothing but blood, sweat, and tears. Now it’s time for them to get big…

Don ran Supply Chain applications development at Oracle & provided a steady hand over the group for many years. It’s nice to have another ex-Oracle executive in the commercial open source neighborhood! Congratulations Don!

Written by Dave Stephens

03/13/07 10:00 AM at 10:00 am

Posted in Open Source, Opinion

US Government Gets Behind Open Source

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I enjoyed a review in VARBusiness on how the US Federal Government is getting behind the open source movement. It’s all about cost – and not just initial acquisition cost but the cost of integration, customization, and ongoing enhancement and maintenance. It’s good to see the US beginning to understand the movement – although in my opinion they are still far behind much of Europe.

VARs will want to read the last paragraph of the article carefully – as working with open source vendors tends to give them a more lasting presence helping the customer than they’ve traditionally held. That’s a little secret I hear everyone talking about but few outside the open source world understand…

Written by Dave Stephens

09/14/06 10:28 PM at 10:28 pm

Posted in IT, Open Source, Opinion

Free As In Beer

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Richard Stallman, who many credit with starting the open source movement in software, likes to “distill” down the idea of the open source movement with this well-worn phrase: “Not Free as in Free Beer, Free as In Freedom”.

Well, now, according to this Wired post, Beer may have taken offense to Richard’s commentary & be ready to “strike back.”

The quick summary of the idea is that a bunch of Danish entrepreneurs are publishing exactly how to make what they hope will be a very tasty brew. The recipe is open source – and people from all over the world can contribute ideas, set up their own micro-breweries, “customize” their version, etc. In true MPL+ fashion, all breweries need to do is credit FreeBeer on their labels.

A pretty fun idea no doubt. See what Brazil’s Gilberto Gil thinks of it on Google Video. Or learn more from the source:

For extra credit, and to understand how the open source recipe for beer fits in the larger context of the battle over copyright law as applied to digital content, check out this interview with Lawrence Lessig (note & warning – political overtones present in beginning of video). Dr. Lessig has his own website as well,


(Thanks to Michael Lamoreaux of for pointing me to the article and asking for my commentary on it)

Written by Dave Stephens

09/13/06 11:22 AM at 11:22 am

Posted in Open Source, Opinion

Preview Release 2 Now Available

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We’ve put out a new release of Coupa eProcurement on Sourceforge. A lot of technical work went into this one – notably including turning the Open Source Edition into a rails engine. Although I’ll be the first to admit no buyer would ever get excited about it, being a rails engine sets the stage for Coupa eProcurement to plug into a variety of broader applications platforms. So it’s foundation-building and nice to see.

We’ve fixed a lot of bugs, including solidifying our IE6 support. IE6 is so awful in its standards-compliance and so dated (5+ years old) that it pained me to make the investment. However, so many people use it it wasn’t optional for the business (why haven’t you guys tried Firefox?). The good news is IE7 is far more standards compliant..

We’ve included a handful of minor functional improvements in this drop as well, some coming a result of early feedback we received on Preview 1 (like searching and sorting in the admin areas of the application). We’ve improved approvals. We’ve made search better (by more fully adopting Ferret).

It certainly is nice to be able to progress the software incrementally & to start to see the advantages of the platform begin to show.

And we have some exciting plans we are now progressing on Release 3…

Written by Dave Stephens

09/12/06 10:19 AM at 10:19 am

Posted in Coupa, Open Source

Budgetary Control and Encumbrance Accounting

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I had several great conversations with partners and prospects today.. A standout was a call with a higher education institution that has downloaded a copy of Coupa eProcurement to play around with & pilot. It was one of those nice open source moments where you know that making the product truly accessible had a hand in gaining the customer conversation. Good stuff.

I’ve always liked higher ed. It’s a tough nut to crack since the people that work in higher ed are so darned independent. Yet it’s great to see management soldier on in pursuit of the increased efficiency procurement provides. And let me “give a nod” to SciQuest as they’ve done some good work with major universities and their implementations seem pretty well regarded. Oracle is no slouch in the higher ed market either, selling a bunch of my old eProcurement stuff into that market.

Both firms (SciQuest and Oracle) were involved at the University of Pennsylvania for instance. UPenn went on record with a $64MM savings number for the first 5 years of operations on the combined platform. If memory serves Procuri may have been in there for reverse auctions.. But I digress..

What I’ve always loved and hated at the same time w/in public sector and private non-profits is the appraoch to budget-based buying. In concept, it’s fantastic and should be applied to many other industries – a cost center decides (or is told) how much they are authorized to spend over a given time period. It may be broken down by procurement category. Then, POs and Invoices are tracked against that spend – and it’s a hard cap.. Try and spend past your budget and you’re blocked.

This all sounds simple enough but take my word for it the requirements tended to go way overboard, including modeling spending, live feeds and interaction with GL, and overzealous ledger entries for step-by-step activities in the procure to pay flow. As a result, solutions, admittedly including Oracle’s, were terrible. Peanut brittle, so to speak. Encumbrance and budgetaey accounting bugs in Oracle’s solution typically could only be fixed by a few extremely knowledge people (you guys know who you are) and usually involved data corruption scripts and chanting Hopi prayers (okay, you get the point).

So I was encouraged, delighted, overjoyed (dancing in the streets) to see there may be a middle ground, even for some public sector organizations and non-profits where a common sense approach to budget-based procurement can win out.

My thoughts turned to other service industries that don’t typically operate on budgets – and what it would mean for them to consider adopting budget-based procurement as an approach. It’s attractive as it puts the budget holders squarely in charge of their ongoing expenses. Even large organizations like GE could benefit – as the solution they employ today is to simply “turn off” discretionary spend if the quarter’s revenue looks a little light.

So who knows, maybe budgetary control and encumbrance accounting don’t have to be all evil. It’s going to be a blast to explore this in more detail and see what a fresh sheet of paper can do for the problem.

Stay tuned…

Written by Dave Stephens

08/28/06 11:09 PM at 11:09 pm

Posted in Coupa, Open Source, Opinion

Quick Coupa Update

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We’ll have a corporate blog up shortly – and updates like these will be posted there once we do..

Some things we hope to introduce very soon include an online demo system for our Enterprise Edition (followed by Open Source Edition). We’ll have a lot better demo data in there then the skinny’d down database embedded in the Sourceforge downloads.

Also, we are prepping for another drop of the Open Source Edition on sourceforge. Probably time for a light refresh. We’ve responded to suggestions we’ve received to date & also re-packaged the application as a rails engine plug-in. Part of the reason is partner-friendly – this should make it easier to embed our stuff in a broader platform. The other part is efficiency – it helps us manage our SVN repositories easier.

August 27th will be +1 month from our initial and pretty quiet Preview Release launch. Thanks to everyone who’s provided feedback.

Written by Dave Stephens

08/25/06 7:05 AM at 7:05 am

Posted in Coupa, Open Source, Opinion