- 1 Overview
- 2 What is ADempiere?
- 3 What are the key principles of ADempiere?
- 4 Business Considerations
- 5 What services do business require?
- 6 How might this work?
- 7 Implications for the various proposals.
- 8 Issues:
At the moment the community is actively discussing how ADempiere might be structured. There are a number of drivers behind this including:
- Protecting the product from legal challenges - giving end customers the confidence to install and use ADempiere.
- Creating a bazaar for the delivery of value added services around the product.
- Recognising the need to do some things globally in a co-ordinated manner (such as some aspects of marketing, legal issues such as IP and certain service delivery where natural economies of scale exist)
We wish to promote discussion community around the structure in the community. This page acts as one of the starting points for that discussion.
What is ADempiere?
A project to develop a collaborative commerce platform (C-Commerce or ERPII).
What are the key principles of ADempiere?
- Openess - in software development, sharing of information and knowledge
- "Information Is Free - People are not", (red1). There is a point where things are no longer free - that is when you start requesting people to apply their skill or knowledge to your specific problem or task. There are also subtle formulations to the above quote that safeguard certain information.
- Independence - Independent from the control of a single commercial entity.
- Unity - A united community.
We live in a world of rules - where these rule change from country to country and from time to time.
These rules provide benefits and pose risks. Even as a group of people working towards a common objective, we expose ourselves to risk because of these rules / laws.
The main risks to manage at this stage are:
- protection of the software - what is the point of creating the best software in the world if it can not be used. If Compiere decide to - they could sue every person who uses ADempiere (perhaps only in the USA) for using a product that has copyrighted code. This threat might even stop people from using ADempiere - or drive customer underground. We will need to consider ways to mitigate this risk and this will involve a number of measures. However, I think the Council agrees we need to sort out the IP situation. This will cost some money as we access professional advice unless we can find some experts to collaborate under the open model we work under.
- if we want wholesale uptake of ADempiere in the market we need to provide some services around ADempiere. That services company can divorce itself from the product and provide services around it - but it does not solve the 'problem' for the end user - in terms of risk on the license.
What services do business require?
Well - here's a limited list off the top of my head. These are services in the sense that businesses 'require them' although I do not mean that someone would 'sell' them.
Website, case studies, quotation pack (turbo takeoff sales resource), product data sheets, industry vertical demos (perhaps hosted, xen / vmware image, livecd), marketing & advertising campaigns, press releases, conferences, trade shows, certification, assurance, evaluation pack, recorded demos.
Implementation and Support .....
Data Migration Tools (prototype->user acceptance testing->live, package migration, version migration), regional enhancements (UK Postcodes), bank statement processors, payment processors, service desk/call centre, Support Triage Paths, Process Work-flow, Regulatory Compliance, Knowledge Base, Custom Development, Hosted Prototypes, Appliances, user documentation, administrator documentation developer documentation, training programmes.
Manage the Technology......
Repository management, patch management and distribution, packaging for different platforms, version management
Product Development .....
Functional and technical infrastructure development, tool development and management, documentation updating
Add on to all of these the additional dimensions of Language, Timezone and I think we have a quick picture of a situation that just does not fit in to a global enterprise (unless it was very well funded).
It seems to me - that the alternative is to build a framework of control where the council act as the trustees of the principles and they co-ordinate activities between regions. The regions are bound by the principles and they create the regional environment for partners to operate.
This provides a common vision and strategy to our customers but allows for the 'local touch'.
How might this work?
Well we could have an organisation registered 'somewhere' that holds the IP. This could be managed by the council as trustees to ensure that the principles are always upheld and the open source product continues to exist in perpetuity.
There could be organisations in each country that were set up to:
- promote the principles of the global ADempiere entity locally
- be the local focal point for delivery of services (which is a market place)
- feed back local intelligence to the council (competitor products, changing legislation)
- provide a community for the collaboration within the region
- act as a co-ordinator to communicate with our regions
For example, the regional organisation could attend local trade shows for the product (like we did at Linux World 2005), could hold an annual conference to get partners and end users together (this is good for people wanting to adopt ADempiere as they see a real local community), they could put partners in touch with each other, direct local leads, etc
There clearly is some cost at the regional and global levels. I do not intend to discuss how this should be addressed as I want to focus on the principles at this stage and see if we can agree on a framework in which to operate.
What I would say is I think there is a case for each local entity to be required to provide a 'golden share' (or equivalent) to the global organisation so that the council (perhaps trustees of the foundation/organisation) have the ability to step in to that region and sort things out if they are going against the community.
This way we can have a proper global organisation to properly address global and policy issues and co-ordinate with local/regional organisations that implement the principles within their geography.
Implications for the various proposals.
- there could be an agreement to set up ADempiere USA INC that would be at least partly owned by the global organisation and would co-ordinate and implement the principles. Local businesses would support this organisation (in fact they may also represent ADemipere USA Inc until others join) - there may be some areas outlined that the regional ADempiere organisation could do and could not do - for instance perhaps the regional ADempiere organisation could not provide services directly to end customers unless doing so through a partner's invitation (contract)
- some services are naturally global - or put another way have natural economies of scale. Take an example (a controversial one) of certification.
Let us assume (for the sake of the argument) that certification was delivered via an online test taken through a website. That test may draw a number of questions from a database of questions and construct a test based on a random selection of database questions spread over specific topics and specific difficulty.
Naturally, this would be developed out of the common knowledge (so it would take some people's time) but once it was done, it would only need to be updated as the software changes.
On the plus side - it is a way of saying to our end customers that a person knows a certain level about the product and it adds value to the end customer. If it had to be renewed each year we could help keep people up to date.
If it were free - would we want to offer it? Well - we can not really say from my simple analysis. I would suggest that for each service that we propose to offer, the proposer do a quick paper on that proposed service which might include:
- what we are proposing to do
- how it adds value to the community and/or end customers
- how it relates to the principles
- what effort is required to set up and maintain the service
- who will do it - what will it cost ....
So what we need to do first is agree in the principles. Then we have a framework in which to assess the organisation structure and to define some policies. This will make all future decision making about what services we want to offer and who should offer them much easier.
The purpose here is to create an environment in which we can efficiently go about creating and delivering to the community. Whilst I understand the calls to revere the bazaar - I can not help but think that some structure might make our lives a little easier.
After all - at the end of the day I think we all want to get on developing, implementing and supporting ADempiere - making it the leading C-Commerce platform.