OpenGeo.org

So within the GeoServer community we’re debating whether it’s kosher to do a fairly blatant ‘commercial’ announcement on the blog about OpenGeo.org. But in the meantime I figured I’d just announce here, since I can do whatever I want on my personal blog :)

I’m really excited to present OpenGeo, the newly minted geospatial division of The Open Planning Project. Nothing much is changing internally, but we’re getting serious about our image in the world. We’ve been supporting open source geospatial projects for years, and in the past couple years we’ve offered great consulting services around the projects we work on. But it’s always been confusing for people who don’t already know our work. They might see an openplans.org email address on the lists, and follow that to web tools for community organizers, click from there on The Open Planning Project logo, linking to a high tech non-profit, then maybe click projects, and see ‘GeoServer’, which they’ve been using, and from there click on ‘services’ to realize that yes, you can in fact pay us money to work on this. I’m not convinced that anyone made it that far.

So OpenGeo.org is about giving a more visible face to our services and products, so we can bring the geospatial work in TOPP to economic sustainability with full cost recovery. It also marks the launch of ‘GeoServer Enterprise‘ packages, which bundle web and telephone support, priority bug fixes, discount consulting rates, and a number of implementation hours by the experts. This is on the full OpenGeo stackOpenLayers, GeoWebCache and GeoServer. We’re hoping this makes it easier for more conservative organizations to embrace open source by establishing something much closer to a traditional vendor relationship. It should provide a clear answer to the classic question with open source ‘Who do I call when something goes wrong?’ – with GeoServer Enterprise you call us, the experts who wrote the software. We believe the total package is incredibly competitive with any offering, proprietary or open source, for the level of service and expert access provided – you’re not paying for the intellectual property of something we built in the past, you’re paying directly for our time now. We already have two clients on board, which is very exciting. The website will be improved with demos and more content, but we’re quite pleased with what we’ve got. Recently many contracts have been coming in, and the OpenGeo launch should help us grow even more. So if you’re looking for a job for a geo dot-org drop me a line, we’re definitely hiring all types of roles, and soon should update the website with specifics.

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5 thoughts on “OpenGeo.org

  1. Pingback: OpenGeo « Digifesto
  2. Great to see OpenPlans delve into geospatial services. I wonder how you have come up with the hourly rates at OpenGeo EE. Charged rates usually are a function of the workers rate. The highest multiplying factors are in the 2.5 to 3 times the worker’s rate (over here anyhow). At 200 $, that means almost 70 $ an hour paid to the worker at the highest multiplying factor. I want to work for you guys ;-).

    Seriously, I was wondering if the rate was set because it was deemed to be at par with the rest of the industry or whether the relatively high hourly rate was a function of having to somehow pay back for the common capital that has been built (with more or less interesting hourly rates) in the open geo stack over the years.

    I’m not questioning the rates, just curious. In fact I’m thrilled by the business model you propose, which is pretty much in line with the Cluetrain Manifesto and what customers are starting to appreciate from their consulting gig.

    Good luck to OpenGeo.

  3. Well, a lot of what we’re going for in the branding and image in the world is to flip the traditional open source perception on its head a bit – it tends to be seen as the ‘affordable’ option, a bit lesser quality, but if it works for you then great. We believe our software is the best out there, but instead of hiding it behind a large price tag we let anyone use it for free, and you can use our services if you want it custom tailored to your needs. The people who actually built the software will be the ones you interact with, not some long ticketing system process where you have to wait for the next release. We deliver the bug fixes right away, and then incorporate them in to the code for others as well. We craft implementations to meet the unique needs of the client, instead of trying to squeeze them in to the box we already made. This level of access requires a premium price. Since we’re going for a premium brand we don’t want the price of services to undercut that, as we really have built a collection of the best geospatial programmers in the world.

    With the enterprise packages a lot of what we’re going for is pricing that makes it so we’re actually compared with the proprietary stuff. Right now we aren’t even considered in many evaluations, since there’s a strong perception that if it’s cheap or free it must not be as good. Our software is as good if not better than anything out there by most all metrics. Note also that there are significant discounts in consulting rates when you get the enterprise packages, so the services rate ends up only really being applicable for very short term consulting, which has much higher overhead with setting up contracts and interrupting the flow of our team and the like.

    As for paying back common capital, we have no requirement to do that, but we are looking to generate more capital to continue to grow the OpenGeo stack. We’re set up as a not for profit, so once we reach our revenue goals we can work purely on making the software better, taking it in the directions that are interesting to us that no client requires yet. So it’s more about creating an economic engine to really further the OpenGeo stack in to the future, to hire more people to work on it directly, who make it even better and attract more customers in a virtuous cycle.

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