Cool Solutions

ODF to documents as Firefox to browsers


December 21, 2005 11:31 am





The Economist has a good story out this week on Firefox, with a nice focus on Mitchell Baker, who heads up the Mozilla Foundation. In it, Mitchell talks about how lack of competition in the browser space has been a real impediment to innovation on the Web, causing a delay in many of the “Web 2.0” user-generated innovations we see emerging today. She also makes arguments about the risks of monoculture in the browser space for innovation and stability. It seems to me the same arguments apply to the document world. There’s little doubt that the word processing environment is a monoculture today, despite the availability of a few commercial options. OpenOffice is emerging as a strong open source alternative to the existing monoculture, although its uptake is still limited. The promotion of a true standard for document interoperability – like ODF – will help drive forward the attractiveness of OpenOffice. That’s why the Massachusetts decision to embrace ODF as part of their new Enterprise Technical Reference Model is so relevant.Many of the most interesting things happening on the Web and in technology today come from unanticipated ways creative people are leveraging technology innovation for new business models. Can ODF lead to openness and innovation in the word processing arena in a way that echoes what’s happened on the Web, with its standards and open platforms like Firefox? It seems to me it should.Maybe we’ll see an Economist article a year from now talking about how ODF is driving innovation and new business models.

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Categories: Expert Views, General, PR Blog


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  1. With Novell falling all over themselves regarding Open Source, is Novell going to move the “Crown Jewel” that is eDirectory to Open Source as well? It is the world’s most-deployed Directory Service, yet it is currently Proprietary and owned by Novell.

    What are Novell’s plans regarding Open Source with their own products?

  2. By:Roger

    Speaking up for Novell (for once if you read some of my other posts). Novell needs a good reason to open source any of its products. A good artical on the subject can be found here,1759,1904092,00.asp

    This details how SUN are looking at each of their products when it comes to moving them to open source. As an outsider the only likley gainer from eDir being outsourced would be RedHat 🙂

    Getting back to my more normal negative view of Novell, I do wonder way there has been no PR about the major drop in eDir’s price since the 8.8 release. The starting price before discount is 50c per user instead of $2.

  3. By:Anonymous

    We have open sourced a number of things over the last several years, including iFolder, YaST, and the Netmail code (the basis of the Hula project), and we’re contributing significant code to OpenOffice, Mono, and other leading projects. We’re always assessing what technologies are good candidates for open source.

    eDirectory is an important technology for us and a competitive differentiator. As you’ve probably noticed, we don’t tend to talk about eDirectory in and of itself, but as an underlying foundation for our identity and resource management products. eDirectory is almost always part of a broader solution sale. So we haven’t made a lot of noise about the list price changes in the product.

  4. By:Roger

    While you may wish to focus on other products rather than just eDir, you need to be aware that other venders such as SUN and Oracle are still very focused on pitching LDAP ‘solutions’ which they then upsell. Also currently Novell’s directory comparision docs are all very dated and without the correct information its hard to attack other venders sale pitch.

  5. Roger – I agree. Novell is once again showing weakness in Marketing by not touting eDir 8.8 and the price difference. Of course, eDir 8.8 has problems of its’ own that Novell needs to resolve, but it is still great technology.

    Bruce – Novell DOES need to “make a lot of noise” with your products OTHER than Linux. If Novell is going to kill off NetWare, then why not just Open Source it and get something out of it rather than suffer the death of the likes of “DigitalME”, SuperNOS, Virtual Office (which need to be clarified by Novell as to why this is being killed), and others.