Jitterbit Moves Away from Open Source Roots

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It's a bit ironic, really: Just when the bad economy and Big Data are moving some companies toward adoption of open source solutions, data integration vendor Jitterbit is headed in the opposite direction.


It's especially ironic when you consider in 2008, Jitterbit CTO Ilan Sehayek predicted that more proprietary companies would be re-evaluting open source as a viable approach.


And yet, when I interviewed Jitterbit's new CEO, George Gallegos, he acknowledged the company is moving away from its open source roots.


"We do have the forum and that kind of runs on its own, but we're very much a commercial company as well," Gallegos said. "I would say we've transitioned from open source and contributing to the open source branch to really putting in the bells and whistles and supporting our commercial branch."


I asked him how that's worked out, given that open source seemed to be gaining steam in the enterprise.


"It's helped us," he said without hesitation."Probably 60 percent of our business we do in the Sales Force ecosystem. They're doing a lot of CRM deals and now they're selling cloud services, but it's a commercial application. Companies that are buying a commercial application, we've found, are more comfortable buying a commercial integration solution, not open source."


Gallegos, who worked for competitor Cast Iron before IBM acquired it, acknowledged that open source has come a long way in terms of acceptance. But he's skeptical that open source works as a business model. Jitterbit is a cash-flow-positive business, he said, adding he's not convinced that's true of Talend, which is an open source data integration and MDM company.


In the interest of fairness, it should be noted that Talend seems to be doing well, acquiring Sopera last fall and adding $34 million to its treasury through funding from private-equity firm Silver Lake Sumeru.


But there's no doubt open source still meets heavy resistance. Gallegos shared a recent encounter where a company was considering a new solution that required integration. He and a number of other integration vendors were sitting in a board meeting when the chairman declared the company would not have any open source in its solution and gave a number of reasons why.


Gallegos didn't elaborate on the reasons, but his point was clear: Whether it's right or wrong, some companies just won't accept the idea of open source.


"In one decision, 20 companies that were open source companies and targeting that business had to take a hike," he said. "So I think there is a view, especially for companies that are investing money in buying a commercial application, to favor a commercial integration solution. So that's why we really had to transition to support those needs and we found it to be helpful. Our business has grown and we're doing well."


For more on Jitterbit's use cases, check out my interview with Gallegos.