My friend Roberto Galoppini speaks about business opportunities in the market for migrating customers from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice.org. Roberto think that many of the technical difficulties that we are facing should be taken care of by Sun Microsystems. Robertos blogpost was even refered to by infoworld.com here: http://weblog.infoworld.com/openresource/archives/2008/12/the_market_oppo.html
When I speak to customers about taking Openoffice.org into consideration the talk often comes to mission critical business software and integration. Not long ago, I had a good talk with a company (large public energy provider). There is no doubt that they have a good business case: more than 2.000 thousand users. They would like to look into OpenOffice.org (and other F/OSS software applications), but when we began counting, we found more than 100 individual pieces of integration.
The same thing with many other companies:
- Edit your website with your favorite text editor and save directly to your website (CMS integration).
- From you customer register (CRM), do mail merge directly.
- Ask the bookkeeper to give you an overview of next month cash flow. You will get the result as a spreadsheet. The report from ERP will be created directly.
Sun is already contributing (with IBM and others) to a project to ODF-Toolkit ( http://odftoolkit.openoffice.org/ ) and a few extensions e.g. Sun Wiki Publisher ( http://extensions.services.openoffice.org/project/wikipublisher ) and Weblog Publisher ( http://extensions.services.openoffice.org/project/swp ).
Sun Microsystems are already deeply involved with this and what we need is that other IT companies will join the case and create extensions. Whats more important is, that local (domestic) companies will begin to listen to their customers and provide a real choice. Today many companies doesn't actually have a choice. The provider of ERP is making the choice for them.
The market places are different. I Denmark Sun is not an active participant. Sun StarOffice ( http://www.sun.com/software/staroffice/ ) doesn't come in Danish and there is no Danish certified business partners. Not a single provider that can use the various migration tools Sun provides. This open for a new business opportunities. Small companies and freelance consultants has a good chance to find a business in this segment. In other market places the situation is different and the businesses is to be found individually in each country.