Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: Zope and Frontier, Competitors? (Long)
Posted:6/20/1999; 6:28:59 AM
Topic:Paul Everitt on Zope and Frontier
Msg #:7596 (In response to 7554)
Prev/Next:7595 / 7597

Hi Dave. I'm the guy who decided to risk a fair bit of his personal money, along with our (Verticality Investment Group) investors' money, to back Digital Creations. Only after the money was in their bank account, did we discuss Open Sourcing Zope, so it wasn't a condition of investment.

So, as a person who stands to lose a lot, I should be one of the most concerned about "competitors" using Zope, right?

It turns out that this is not the case at all. I whole-heartedly welcome your use of Zope, and will do an awful lot (within reason) to ensure that you are successful in whatever ways you use Zope. Why?

When we discussed making Zope Open Source, there were a few key things that everyone needed to be laser focused on.

1) Officially, we were becoming a Services company. The services are only based upon Zope, and there is no general "work for hire" at Digital Creations. Specifically, that meant that the bulk of our revenues would come from consulting contracts.

2) Zope would remain free, and Open Source forever. Customers couldn't (and shouldn't!) adopt Zope if they didn't believe that we'd continue to enhance it at our expense for as long as there remained a reasonably sized community of users.

3) Additional revenues would be derived from vertical products that were developed on top of the Zope framework.

So, are we (UserLand and Digital Creations) really competitors? I think not. First, we don't charge for Zope. So everyone who wishes to buy a "competing" content management system, Portal Toolkit, Web Application Server, etc., should buy it. We don't lose any money from that sale.

But we could lose potential Services contracts from that, right? Of course. However, we have zero salespeople on staff at the moment, and get more unsolicited requests for work than we can credibly bid on. This highlights the point that I wish to make (but haven't yet):

In a Services world, there is infinite work available. We are competing with no one (IMHO). We aren't even aware of the vast majority of work available out there, and if we lose a consulting assignment to another Zope shop, good for them! If they aren't a Zope shop, then we didn't convince the client that our solution was better, and that's entirely our problem, one I won't blame on having competition.

Only #3 above gets into the realm of true competition. Products. We offer a few add-ons to Zope at the moment. There's no question that some of our own community of developers may wish to offer similar add-ons, possibly even for free. We encourage that. In fact, those that buy the add-ons from us at the moment agree to a license which permits us to Open Source the add-on at any time, including the day after they purchase it. Hopefully, they realize that they will benefit from other add-ons that were developed with OPM (other people's money) and then Open Sourced for their benefit... So, add-ons aren't a big revenue stream for us either, just a small, partial cost recovery system for some leading-edge R&D.

Larger revenue will come from vertical products. Here too competition is possible, especially from non-Zope shops. We welcome the opportunity to display our wares head-on in this arena, and if we get beaten, so be it. In this regard, we have one product (which we don't yet advertise in any way). It is a web-based workflow engine that is flat out more flexible than anything on the market, simply because it automatically acquires all of the strengths of Zope's dynamic framework! Therefore, we don't offer "workflow in a box" solutions, but rather a perfectly tailored (custom) workflow app to a given customer's requirements. We have deployed one already, and the raves are already coming in :-)

Again, thank you for adopting Zope for your efforts on Linux. As you already saw with the XML-RPC collaboration, we are more than willing to help in any reasonable way, and we hope that this effort on your part will be rewarded by many more people joining the UserLand fold!

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