Compiere gets acquired by Consona

By Subraya Mallya - June 2010 | Topics - Open Source

Compiere, the leading Open Source ERP vendor, announced today that it is being acquired by Indiana based Consona Corporation.

This provides further evidence to what I alluded to in one of my earlier posts about SaaS stealing Open Source‘ thunder. It would not come as a  surprise to me if more open source application vendors were to get acquired in the coming days.

Consona is a privately (and venture partner) held software company which has come about on the back of a series of small acquisition. In some ways it is  smaller version of Infor or Epicor having indulged itself in consolidating the low-end solutions in the ERP, CRM and a few industry vertical applications.

Compiere, although carrying the tag of being the largest open source ERP application vendor, has had a history of  relationship issues with its open  source community. We all know how much successful a open source product would be without its community which invests time and resources to test, adopt, improve the product. The founder Jorge Janke was criticized as being not-so community friendly and this friction resulted in the community forking  the code into what became Adempiere (and to some extent also a step-child OpenBravo). It is said this very issue with community, eventually led to Janke’s ouster from the company he founded. Investors then brought in Don Klaiss, a senior Oracle executive and a strong product team along with him. The goal was to mend the broken marriage with community and improve sales into small and medium businesses who were being priced out of the market by the larger ERP vendors.

In the last few years, Compiere had broadened its product footprint, moved to a pure HTML stack based on Google Web Toolkit (GWT) and to model-driven development methodology. The reviews on the new product version has been significantly better although the community did not hide the dissatisfaction around the fact that the new HTML version was only available in Professional Edition and its code was not released under open source.

On the business front things looked brighter as they even struck a large ERP deal with La Poste in France to replace their sales, purchasing, inventory, and payment processing systems. A few strategic initiatives like integration with and moving to a have-it-your-way, in-cloud or on-premise model also helped matters.

As if to throw a monkey wrench into Compiere’s plans, SaaS increasingly started becoming the application delivery of choice and at the same time the relationship with community not improving must have thrown Compiere into the arms of Consona. Interestingly enough, Consona is a fully proprietary software vendor. If the community was irked about Compiere not being truthful with its open source beliefs then with Consona acquisition it ain’t going to become any better. In fact, it would not be surprising if Compiere stops being an open source vendor going forward.

In it’s press release the CTO of Consona said, that this acquisition will position them well in their plans to move their products to cloud. The Compiere platform with multi-tenancy baked in was one of the key reasons for their acquisition. All the Cloud-Open source mangling aside, I’m not fully convinced that this acquisition would in some way make them cloud ready.  Will have to wait and see. Personally, I always thought RedHat would have been a better company to acquire Compiere. They have got the whole open source thing figured out pat.

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