We’ve recently implemented Horde for internal mail, calendaring and task management. With tool suites like these available, the old guard must be getting nervous.
This may be obvious, but with the new Horde implementation (and Imp, Kronolith, Turba, Ingo, and Nag), our need for a commercial internal collaboration suite has been obviated. We probably wouldn’t have purchased such a suite (certainly not from a closed source vendor) so perhaps this isn’t a big deal.
What *is* a big deal is that we were able to make the decision, download the software, install, configure and begin using it in under two hours total – start to finish, without spending a dime on licenses. Our team is small today (under five users), but we’re bringing on others in the near term. In a traditional licensing model, I would have to purchase additional seats for them, or have originally purchased a bulk license that would allow for the additional users.
I’m not one to complain about paying for something of value when it can’t be obtained elsewhere, and I will generally pay a premium for high levels of quality or service in my personal life. But when it comes to computing resources, especially software applications and services, I am most definitely biased: I like free solutions that I can implement on my own terms.
Regular readers shouldn’t be surprised at this (I founded freepository in 1999 and today it hosts close to 10,000 projects from around the globe). Free doesn’t always mean there’s no value exchange (see my article [here]), but often the exchange is so subtle that the one on the “free” side doesn’t notice or care.
What does Horde get from our use of its tools? Word of web like this, and in-person buzz marketing when I’m out and about talking to clients, business partners, venture capitalists and potential employees. This raises the “value” of the Horde solution, and may propel the developers to earn additional revenue through their association with this great set of applications.
While we host our own Horde suite, there probably are (or soon will be) companies offering hosted Horde suites for small companies that can’t implement it themselves. This will create a nice revenue stream for the hosting company, provide a valuable web-based employee email & calendaring solution to the customer, reduce the company’s costs (we hope), and provide one more quasi-Web 2.0 success story.
Which brings me back to my primary point: the old guard must be getting nervous (or just a lot more nervous than they already must be) because bit by bit, every single reason an enterprise has to use old-licensing-model software is being destroyed by a new, free (both beer and speech) application, operating system or utility.
I think the new model is a hybrid of free and premium, subscription-based content and services. This is our model and we see a big upside.