World is Flat breakfast

Ismael Ghalimi is a friend of mine, having gotten to know each other through SAP’s investment in his company, Intalio. When he sent me an email with an invitation to a breakfast he was hosting around the topic of Friedman’s latest book, The World is Flat, of course I accepted.

The focus of the breakfast meeting was to take the “flatteners” that Friedman identified and explore the impact on our business. The two in particular that Ismael focused on were community development (open source) and offshoring, to which end he had his offshoring partner, Logica, present on some of the key issues and realities of that topic.

Of particular interest to me was the discussion that ensued around Intalio’s move to open source their products. While still retaining their premium licensed product, Intalio has also made available a Community Edition at no cost, providing it is deployed on Apache and Derby or MySQL, and an open source product under the CPL. The difference between the community edition and the open source product is that services and support are available for the community version and not for the open source product.

In addition to the open source move, Intalio has put in place an innovative product management process whereby customers can “cluster” together and pay for product enhancements basically “at cost”. This is possible because Intalio is offshoring much of their development to Lohica, a Ukranian firm. I’m still working out the practical implications of this practice, but as Zoli pointed out, it enables customers to buy a vote in the product management process and spread the risk to other customers at the same time.

On the topic of offshoring, Ismael made a couple of interesting comments about the extent to which Intalio is embracing offshoring, after first having failed at it with a team in India. Those of you that have gone through this process know that it’s not as simple as handing off a project to a remote team, but rather you have to treat them as an extension of your own organization. Intalio may be a case of extreme offshoring because not only are they offshoring a good chunk of their development, but also their sales, administrative functions, and support. Lastly, Intalio has no marketing budget, the community markets for them, and I know from my own experience with Ismael that he is a true believer in the power of blogs to advance his cause, which it why his own blog, IT|Redux is on the homepage for Intalio.

Lastly, be sure to check out his Office 2.0 Database project.

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