Make smart and accurate
software selection decisions
Podcasts, Webinars, and Videos
Interactive Case Studies
ERGO Decision Support System
Private Label Partnerships
TEC Case Studies
Software Evaluation Reports
Meet TEC's Experts
News and Press Releases
Working at TEC
Partner with TEC
Consona’s CEO Clearing the Air (about Compiere) - Part 1
Consona’s CEO Clearing the Air (about Compiere) - Part 1
July 6 2010
In early June
’s analyst relationship (AR) contact forewarned me about the company’s upcoming acquisition of a “leading open-source and cloud computing
enterprise resource planning (ERP)
vendor” and asked about my availability for a briefing once the acquisition was closed. After consultation with
free and open source software (FOSS)
buff Josh Chalifour, we quickly identified
evaluate this product
] as the most likely target (not to say prey).
open source software
vendor had been eerily quiet for a while (and ignoring our repeated calls for update briefings) and lately there had been much less activity within its once vibrant FOSS user community. The rumors about Compiere running out of “dough” and looking for a white knight had also floated occasionally. Once
the acquisition was made official on June 16, 2010
, Josh was swift with
his blog post that mostly talked about the abovementioned observations prior to the merger and gave some speculations about Compiere’s future under Consona
A slew of blog posts from other market observers and pundits, such as
, came out at about the same time. As expected, there were blog assertions and speculations from some peers and competitors of Compiere, such as
’s CEO Ned Lilly
’s executive Paolo Juvara.
As a common thread, most of these articles lamented about the dubious future of Compiere’s once enthusiastic and active FOSS community and its contribution to the product’s future development.
Compiere’s original founder Jorg Janke is currently writing a tell-all blog series on the company’s genesis, from inception to Consona
, and we will all certainly stay tuned for that (the
first part is already out
The other day I had a productive briefing with Jeff Tognoni, Consona’s knowledgeable and straight-shooting CEO, who is also a seasoned industry veteran (both as a software executive and investor). Given his longevity in the industry, Tognoni is not averse to criticism, competitive banter, and being challenged by pundits, but in this case he wishes that some of those bloggers had written their pieces after hearing Consona’s side of the story (the acquisition’s rationale) first. To his credit, Ned Lilly was crystal clear about his conflict of interest, and it is not that logical to expect competing CEO’s consultations prior to writing (provocative) blog posts.
First Major Message: Consona Is Not Infor
As a memory refresher and as background, Consona provides ERP and
customer relationship management (CRM)
software for companies of all sizes. The vendor has 700 employees worldwide, is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, US, and has a few large development centers in India. Under private ownership by
, Consona has quadrupled in size to about US$130 million since its inception in 2003 (at the time called
). For more information, see
my recent exhaustive article on the company
In his aforementioned
blog post, Ned Lilly called Consona an "Infor wannabe" and Tognoni vehemently disagrees with that assertion. Sure, both
and Consona have been acquisitive since the early 2000s under their respective private equity backers. Both vendors have also attempted specialization by tackling some defendable vertical niches and both companies pledge to enhance, maintain, and support all acquired products in the long term.
But this is where the similarity ends, starting with these vendors’ different sizes. Infor is at least 15 times larger in estimated revenues, which translates to being much more leveraged (and under much more pressure to pay back the debt). Moreover, Consona is not active in the best-of-breed
supply chain management (SCM)
space, despite Battery Ventures also owning
. Neither is Consona in active pursuit of the public sector,
enterprise asset management (EAM
business intelligence (BI)
/performance management (PM) offerings yet, as is Infor.
In addition, a major philosophical difference is that all of Consona’s products and their roadmaps are independently managed (in a
manner), based on the feedback and best interests of customers using those products. In other words, contrary to Infor, Consona has never bet the farm on cross- and up-sale of acquired products, and on some unifying (and gut-wrenching) “Corestone”, "Open SOA" or “ION” platform strategy (which inevitably leads to some product rationalization). Consona’s aforementioned operating model was instituted to achieve both organic growth and increased customer satisfaction for acquired product franchises.
In addition, except for perhaps Made2Manage and
ERP systems (respectively running on
Microsoft Visual FoxPro
platforms), all other Consona products are on relatively mainstream client-server platforms and have enviable micro-vertical industry focus and leadership (e.g.,
in metal cutting centers,
in plastics and injection molding, etc.). Conversely, Infor has a much larger number of
IBM System i
and UNIX-based “ERP collector items” (not to call them technological “toxic assets”).
Second Major Message: Compiere Was a Cloud-platform Buy, Stupid
First off, Consona and Tognoni are still trying to figure out how best to deal with the business logic part of the Compiere open-source initiative, and they are committed to working with the community to figure this out. Consona also plans on continuing a community version of Compiere after it completes strategic planning and works with interested parties, including customers and partners.
Consona continues to innovate in the
world and is fully committed to its existing products, especially those on the
Microsoft .NET Framework
. Still, adding cloud deployment options has lately become a market-driven priority. To that end, Consona had the option of re-writing one or more of its ERP products into multi-tenant
software as a service (SaaS
However, Consona concluded it was going to take it a few years to move its current core on-premise ERP products to the cloud. The vendor rather decided to “throw the ball down the field” and acquire a platform and product that is built from the ground up to be the reference architecture for cloud computing and thus get into the market for cloud ERP now. Thus enters Compiere, while Consona remains committed to providing a cloud service roadmap for its core on-premise products (it may just be a year or two before they are released).
In addition, all of Consona’s ERP products are manufacturing-oriented (as opposed to targeting distribution and service industries), and manufacturers have yet to jump on the SaaS bandwagon in earnest. Sure, Tognoni is aware of
my recent related blog post
another related blog post
), but he points out that the size of these vendors (i.e., about US$150 million and US$35 million respectively) is dwarfed by the size of SaaS vendors that have started at about the same time. Indeed,
Concur, Taleo, salesforce.com
, etc. all rather offer appetizing departmental software solutions with a much narrower functional scope.
Consona CRM Cloud Paved the Way
As stated earlier, Consona’s vision is to become the leading provider of enterprise-class, cloud-based business solutions. The first cloud trial balloon of a sort was
Consona’s CRM Cloud
offerings as a way to overcome the previously acquired CRM products’ (i.e.,
) diverging technology platforms
. At first glance, there is nothing overly differentiating in Consona CRM Cloud leveraging
Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
Simple Storage Service (S3)
for the server infrastructure and platform, in light of a slew of other vendors doing the same
infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
Oracle, Lawson Software, Sage, Pegasystems
would be just a few vendors that leverage meteorically rising AWS for their private cloud and
However, Consona calls its arrangement a
) at the infrastructure level, where Consona offers its software applications “as a service” in a
manner (i.e., multiple tenants within a private cloud). Consona also combines Amazon infrastructure and application expertise with its own strategically designed set of affordable managed services and support, including infrastructure and application maintenance services. Flexibility and customer choice can be seen in three software licensing options (i.e., perpetual, subscription, and consumption) and two deployment options (on-premise and in cloud), while having only one professional service organization to deal with.
Part 2 of this blog series will conclude by analyzing what Compiere brings to Consona. Your views, comments, opinions, and particular experiences with Consona and Compiere are as usual welcome in the meantime.
comments powered by Disqus.
comments powered by
Interested in a better way to make software decisions?
Give us a call now: 1-800-496-1303 ext:404
Software Requirements Sets and Comparison Reports
Click here to leverage the experience of our 360 industry perspective