Open Source Software Gains Recognition

Dec 4, 2008 2:22 PM. All work by

BOSTON—Experts at this year’s Gilbane Boston Conference on technology and social media conceded that open source software has a respected place amongst web programs.

Dozens of these Content Management Solution (CMS) experts pitched their company’s products to wandering investors at the fifth annual expo. While some of the booths offered $100,000 products, two companies, Hippo and Magnolia, became the conference’s first open source exhibitors.

“If I had my own company, I’d use [open source software],” said CoreMedia representative Arner Eichel. A powerhouse based in Hamburg, Germany, CoreMedia develops the most dominant CMS in Germany, Eichel said. Other clients include T-Mobile, Continental Airlines, and several other large global companies, yet Eichel admitted that their product isn’t for everyone.

CMS software have become the backbone of complex websites. A robust CMS offers an efficient way to organize files and information, as well as a simple interface for clients to add and change their web content.

“When I get proposals for projects,” Eichel said, “I always tell them to first look at open source.”

Open source software is free to use and edit, has a growing list of features and much of the troubleshooting is done by other people. It’s an appealing offer for those not ready to pay the average $500,000 and the annual maintenance fees that CoreMedia charges for their product, Eichel said.

Clients gravitate to a proprietary CMS, not in search of innovation, but for its dependability, Eichel said. The company’s latest product, a video-hosting service called CoreMedia Web TV, is similar to YouTube.com. Those familiar with the social network will find that it offers nothing new outside of increased control over content, but the service was built and launched in two days at the request of a client.

Where CoreMedia has avoided open source, other companies have integrated it. Jim Awiszus, an account executive from Quark, Inc., said the company’s latest product borrowed from open source. Quark is best known for it’s earliest software, QuarkXpress, which became a publishing standard in the late 1980s but fell out of vogue in the past five years, Awiszus said.

Quark has integrated an open source CMS from Alfresco, Inc. into their latest product, Quark Dynamic Publishing Solution (DPS), which Awiszus said will spell certain death for its rival application, Adobe InDesign. When told that CoreMedia’s CMS is priced at half a million, Awiszus was not surprised.

“Quark [DPS] starts at $250,000,” Awiszus said plainly. “We’re in it to do business.”
Awiszus’ interpretation of Quark’s mission could not be farther from that issued by Wordpress.org, a very popular open source CMS platform. The latter company’s website states that the software was “created by and for the community” in 2001 and has since taken off.

The application isn’t just for tech novices looking to make a quick webpage. Ford Motor Company, The New York Times and even Red Sox pitcher Curt Shilling have, with the help of hundreds of thousands of other users, altered Wordpress to perform like an expensive CMS.



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