Microsoft and Open Source seems like an odd combination. But it makes a lot of sense. Aras today announced Aras Innovator, built on Microsoft's .Net and SQL Server, and offered as an Open Source product.
eWeek says Aras move puts new spin on Open Source "Aras, which makes product life-cycle management software, has a new spin on open source: making the code to its Aras Innovator software, which only runs on proprietary Microsoft technologies, openly available under the Microsoft Community License and hosted on Microsoft's Codeplex Web site."
InfoWorld interviewed Aras CEO Peter Schroer " In late 2005, Aras made the decision to ditch cross-platform support and base its offerings on Windows, .Net, and SQL Server. With Microsoft's help, Aras worked to integrate its software with the latest Windows-based technologies, including SharePoint Server and Office 2007. Only recently did it make the decision to open its code.
Schroer says there's no contradiction between open source and the Microsoft software ecosystem. "Microsoft has a particular business model that works for them. But around that they're encouraging open source development," he explains."
Cnet ran a story about the transition from perpetual license revenue to subscriptions and from traditional licensing to open source.
Advocates of open-source businesses say that the loss of license revenue, particularly for pricey business software, has to be offset with lower operating expenses. Generally speaking, that means cutting back on sales and marketing.
Aras, for example, eliminated its sales positions and is replacing them with application engineers who will provide support to customers' nitty-gritty questions. Those are "the people the customers want to talk to anyway. They don't want to talk to a salesperson," Schroer said.
Bill Hilf , General Manager of Microsoft's Platform Technology Strategy said "Aras brings a new value proposition to the enterprise software solution market by delivering direct customer benefits to companies running Microsoft technologies.” “We are supportive of Aras’ move to offer enterprise open source solutions on the Microsoft stack, and we continue to see tremendous growth in the Microsoft partner ecosystem as a variety of industry partners are finding innovative ways to take advantage of the value of the Microsoft platform under a wide range of licensing models.”
The customer wins and Aras wins. Aras made the decision to rewrite their application on Microsoft platforms like .Net and SQL Server because all of their customers already had Microsoft infrastructure. Then Aras converted from a traditional licensing model to a free download Open Source model. This in turn meant that Aras eliminated the up front perpetual license and went with a monthly subscription. So, Aras eliminated all their sales people and instead have application engineers help their customers with installation and customization.
Aras is in the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) space and provides a process oriented approach to manage, measure, and improve product development and quality compliance.