Tuesday, June 24, 2008

MuleSource giving up on open source?

(I posted this a minute ago by editing a draft I started in April but never finished and Blogger posted it with an April date! Wow that's a bug. So re-posting.)

In April MuleSource announced that they were splitting the Mule ESB into a community edition and an enterprise edition.

Apparently the enterprise edition also has features that are available only in that version, plus the only version customers can buy support for is the enterprise edition. It also appears that the license requires you to uninstall the enterprise edition if you ever stop paying for it .. and rumor has it that the software will actually stop working if you don't continue to pay for it. Wow. WOW.

I guess what this is saying is that MuleSource is having trouble monetizing the more than million downloads they claim.

However, I'm surprised, no, shocked. Larry Augustin (who happens to be an advisor to MuleSource and also WSO2) gave a very interesting talk at the last OSBC about how to make it less difficult for customers to pay. One of his main points was about avoiding a rip-n-replace approach when getting customers to pay.

Today if you want to try Mule then you go and download their free community edition. But then if you want to buy support for it, then you have to get new bits and switch over! And of course if you ever decide to stop paying, then you have to drop back to the community edition, which has some missing features. Vendor lock-in for sure.

This is the opposite of "make it easy to pay" that Larry was advocating at OSBC.

Forcing people to pay by legal means is the hallmark of proprietary software. Open source vendors need to find a way to deliver sufficient value to customers to make them want to pay .. apparently MuleSource has failed at that and is going back to the license to force people to pay. In other words, giving up on open source.

Summary: If you want a really open source ESB then don't look at Mule any more! Ah yes, we've got one .. and BTW its the fastest around :-).

(Oh yeah, we ran into Mule's non-open source nature head-on when doing the performance analysis .. it turns out that the enterprise edition license does not allow us to publish performance numbers against it! We're familiar with that with BEA AquaLogic etc., but never expected that from Mule. Oh BTW that's a field of use restriction, which violates the Open Source Definition (item #6) .. so really, Mule is effectively no longer available under an OSI approved license and hence not at all open source.)

6 comments:

Dave said...

Man, does your jealousy ever end? If MuleSource is your target (and not Oracle etc.) than your further failings are guaranteed.

You are more than welcome to talk all the smack you want but you should get your facts straight.

1. The Enterprise version of Mule is open source
2. You don't have to remove the Community edition, just drop a .jar updater
3. Enterprise edition is under a commercial license and the CPAL doesn't apply

You and your "company" are exactly what's wrong with open source--this petty self-destruction instead of going after the big targets.

I'm not really looking for a flame-war here but your comments make you look like an idiot unlike yourself I support other open source companies.

Dan Diephouse said...

You're spreading a lot of FUD here. Oh my! How dare we actually sell management tools and extra connectors in a commercial version! :-)

Mule EE is Mule CE + extra stuff. No rip and replace. Why is this so controversial? We are not the only ones who do this. We actually will support the CE version for people, but we prefer that they use the EE version as thats what we have our support infrastructure set up around and it has the management tool integration/extra features.

A couple other things:
* Regarding the versioning of Mule EE, we take a very conservative approach. 1.6.1 has been battle tested so thats we still recommend if you're deploying right now. We're of course launching a Mule 2.0 EE once we feel its ready. We tell customers that if they're going to production now, use 1.x, otherwise if its later this year, you should probably start with 2.0.
* I think what Dave meant to say with point number 1 is that you get the Mule enterprise source as part of an enterprise subscription. Yes, this is not OSI open source - but thats what Mule CE is for. Mule Community *is* Open Source as in OSI open source.
* I'll help push the performance benchmarks through on our end.

Sanjiva Weerawarana said...

Dave, you have to learn to write non-contradictory statements .. you say "Enterprise version of mule is open source" and then say "Enterprise edition is under commercial license and CPAL doesn't apply". Huh?

So, it is open source or is it not open source??

Jealousy? Of MuleSource?? :-). You're a funny guy Dave!

As I've blogged before, don't expect WSO2 to let up on you guys because you happen to be open source. You're one of our competitors (at least as far as the ESB product goes), as much as Oracle/BEA, IBM, JBoss and Sun are. We're of course not just an ESB company and we cover a much larger spaces than MuleSource.

And if you think the other open source competitors aren't competing with you then you're smoking something funny.

I'm proud of my "company" .. what's wrong with open source is that companies like MuleSource are messing up the spirit of open source in trying to just make a fast buck around a successful open source project and missing much of the essence of open source. WSO2 is out to prove that one doesn't have to come at the cost of the other.

Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

Sanjiva Weerawarana said...

Dan- where's the FUD? If its really just CE + extra stuff, then why the license terms to uninstall the stuff when you no longer pay? Why the condition saying "thou shalt not publish performance benchmarks"?

Put yourself in a customer's shoes. If MuleSource decides to jack up prices 10x, they cannot go to another vendor to buy that support and chug along merrily. They'd have to either pay up or move to another ESB. That's the definition of vendor lock-in! That's not what open source is about!!

We at WSO2 know our code is not perfect. We know there are cases when other products are faster than ours. A customer who cares about scalability and performance will run their own tests. Hiding behind a legal document to prevent someone from publishing those numbers will not save you.

Anyway, thanks for pushing the performance evaluation through. Yes, I agree Mule CE is indeed truly open source .. and I never said or implied otherwise!

Ross Mason said...

Sanjiva, I find these sorts of posts demeaning and generally refuse to get involved in FUD spreading. This instance is no different except to say that you clearly don't understand our commercial model and attacking it doesn't put you in a good light. As for the benchmarks, Paul and I have discussed them and we'll work with you to publish the next ones. Benchmarks done by a competitor are pretty meaningless.

Nasreen Basu said...
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