Some of the recent viewers of the TSG web site might have noticed a small change as the Download option and supporting pages have been replaced with a “Getting Started” page. While we at TSG remain committed to providing open source ECM solutions for our customers on Alfresco, Documentum or Hadoop, we are evolving from a “anyone can download at anytime” to more of Visible Source licensing model which includes source code with a controlled distribution and a small cost component to cover support and maintenance. This post will discuss the reason for the new approach and how the approach is being initially rolled out.
Why the Change?
Over the past 10 years, TSG has chosen to freely distribute our source code. As we have evaluated our approach, TSG remains committed that we don’t want to become a software company and we want to continue to use our software to:
- Show off our software development skills.
- Support a community of our software users where everyone benefits from each other’s additions to the software.
- Jump start our client’s projects with quality products at no cost for the software.
For our clients, this approach has worked great and we continue to enhance the code and support the community. Where we have struggled is with other consulting firms using our software to jump start their client’s efforts without contributing back to the community. On multiple occasions, we have encountered consultants that download our software for their clients. Many times these consultants call us for support (often masquerading as clients). For this support, readers should understand that:
- TSG is not compensated for our support time or software in any way.
- Often the consultant is billing their client for the time spent working with our software.
One example below is a from an email exchange with a non TSG consultant working at a government agency (that will remain nameless) that was conducting an “evaluation” of OpenMigrate for almost 3 years with up to 80 hours of free support from TSG:
We are currently considering dropping Crown Partner’s Buldoser product and using OpenMigrate , so….
We have the funding for support and will be submitting a purchase order but it can’t be submitted until I first show that I can actually migrate content using OpenMigrate. I’m not that far away from getting that done. I just need a little more help.
I understand you don’t really have any reason to provide me with any sort of support for OpenMigrate but also please understand that if it were up to me we would have an agreement in place with you today. I’m still working on it. It isn’t a strictly a question of money but one of how to structure it as a support contract instead of consulting for a project.
In the meantime, however, I’m still trying to use OpenMigrate, which is why I’m once again back with hat in hand. With any luck, this should be a simple question to answer….
I’m trying to copy a folder tree…..
I’m finally in negotiations with my management to sign off on a contract with TSG for support of OpenMigrate, however….
With our new approach, we want to support any and all clients that would like to leverage the software but want to eliminate the hassle for our internal resources of trying to determine who is a client and who is not.
Our New Approach – Visible Source License with Support
While we don’t want to force clients to contribute to the TSG software community, we have struggled with finding a way to eliminate the consulting support while still supporting a visible source distribution model. For our new approach:
- We will only distribute software to clients that satisfy a minimal support arrangement of $10,000 US. Support clients will receive up to 40 hours of support to use over one calendar year as they see fit for either support or product enhancements.
- TSG will generate a software contract for both the software and the support arrangement.
- Once payment is received, clients will have access to the latest release source code of any of TSG’s software products for the period of one calendar year. This is an improvement upon the old model as we previously only released older versions, typically two releases prior, for free download.
- After the first year, if clients would like additional support or access to updates, a new support arrangement of $10,000 US would need to be signed.
- Potential clients that wish to conduct an on-premise evaluation of the software will be required to sign the support agreement. We encourage potential clients to leverage the videos in the learning zone, contact TSG to conduct a live demonstration, or gain access to the software in TSG’s environment.
It should be noted that this arrangement is only for end-user clients of the software and is not available to consulting firms or contractors. Also, existing TSG clients are not required to sign the support arrangement. Consulting firms and contractors should work with their clients to legally obtain the source code.