Liferay had the chance to be a platinum sponsor at the Open Source Conference 2010, organized by Red Hat and Accenture. At almost 450 attendees, it was the Benelux region's largest-ever OSS focused conference. When I asked for a show of hands, most folks in the audience said they felt more comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt, so I'm assuming that we had a strong showing of technical folks.
OSC2010 was held at the amazing Muziekgebouw, part of an urban redevelopment effort completed in 2004 that has helped restore this riverfront area to its historical vitality and importance to civic life.
The general sense we got (and this was confirmed by others) was that open source awareness and understanding in the Netherlands is behind that in France and Germany. Many of the sessions seemed to cover topics and ideas that are now well known even for those not actively using open source: open source provides more agility, the chance to evaluate software without upfront investment, control over one's IT initiatives, better value for the cost, more secure software of higher quality than proprietary offerings.
Liferay was a platinum sponsor at the event, giving us a great booth on the mezzanine with a view of the river and the main train station near the historic center.
Tomas Nyström, an Accenture Senior Director heading up their open source practice, notably presented some new research findings from an open source survey they conducted earlier this year. The largest trends are that the driver for open source adoption is no longer primarily cost savings; respondents are turning to open source because OSS provider higher quality and more reliable software that better meets their needs and gets their solutions to market more quickly. You can find related research here and here.
New research from Accenture shows varying motivations for using open source—not primarily cost.
I also had a chance to deliver one of the plenary sessions and shared about the innovator's dilemma for new software companies. I'll expound on this later, but the basic idea is that often companies that want to compete with the established vendors do so by taking investment capital, only to find themselves being acquired by those very vendors. So innovation seems to have a life span of 5-7 years at most growing software companies. By contrast, at Liferay, we've built the company without taking outside investment and this allows us to make decisions that strike the right balance between keeping our company healthy, satisfying our customers, and creating value for the community. This is a huge advantage for people who decide to invest their time, resources, and energy into Liferay technology, because they know we're going to be around for the long haul.
Acquisition is unfortunately the fate for a lot of innovative software companies.
I also shared my slot with one of our customers, the Open University of the Netherlands. My co-speaker, Eric Kluijfhout, has over ten years of experience bringing his ICT experience to bear on educational institutions and their initiatives around collaborative learning and online course delivery. Eric and has team have been using Liferay at Open University for the last several years, where it has served as an application platform, enabling OU to rapidly prototype solutions and deliver results for various initiatives around collaborative education. Their Liferay-based application have provided a solution for 14 EU partners in 9 different countries and is being extended to new initiatives in the region.
Liferay Portal helps OU meet their complex requirements around self-organizing learning networks.
All in all it was a successful conference and we were able to hang out with some of our existing customers and some new prospects. We got some positive feedback on Twitter which I'm including here. (I hope it's not too self-congratulatory!)