Why Wingspan eTMF is built on Open Source Software, not Documentum or SharePoint

July 27, 2016

  • Wingspan eTMF

Our potential clients often ask us why our cloud solution is not built on traditional document management platforms such as Documentum or SharePoint. Instead, our solutions are built using a collection of open source technologies. In this brief interview, Martin Snyder, Wingspan CTO, explains why.

How does Wingspan use open source software?
Wingspan uses open source software liberally in our products and throughout our organization. Wingspan engineering and operations groups both make heavy use of open source software.

Why do cloud companies like Wingspan rely on open source software?
Cloud technologies relies heavily on virtualization and dynamic provisioning. It’s really tough to be in a situation where your operations group spins up new instances somewhere and inadvertently exceeds license thresholds.

With open source software, you don’t have to worry about the license implications of additional instances. You can use closed-source software in such an environment, but only if the license model supports what you need to do. In many cases, large commercial software companies haven’t adjusted to the notion that “servers” and “users” aren’t good measures of your actual usage of an application.

Software licensing can have a big impact on your deployment strategies and operational agility, which has a much bigger impact on cloud companies than it does more traditional software organizations. Open source applications allow Wingspan to scale their solution to meet client demand without restrictions.

Wingspan’s cloud platform was designed from the ground up to utilize open source solutions whenever possible. Because of this, it has never used products like Oracle, Documentum or SharePoint since there are better or at least comparable free solutions. These cost savings can then be passed onto clients.

What impact does open source software have on software development?
A significant one. All of the major development platforms have significant open source libraries available to them and, in many cases, the best development tools are open source. Things have evolved well beyond the state where open source were just “free” rip-offs of commercial alternatives. Now a lot of the leading solutions are open source.

What are the indicators of the healthiest open source projects?
Open source is a development methodology, not a release strategy. Probably the best indicator of a healthy projects is that they have a larger number of contributors from different organizations. That immediately indicates that they are embracing the socialized development model.

Another good indicator is that the project has multiple active supported versions. Providing security (or other) patches for older versions without forcing users to upgrade to the latest version indicates strong governance and that the maintainers of the project take the needs of their users seriously.

Finally, quality documentation is a great indicator as well. Not so much because of the importance of documentation, but because quality documentation for an open source project usually indicates corporate backing from one or more organizations. It’s great to socialize the development efforts, but it’s also nice for someone to be doing the heavy lifting behind the scenes.