May 24, 2006 11:54 AM PDT

Mozilla CEO: Why we're still shunned by corporate IT

Mozilla, maker of the open-source Firefox Web browser and Thunderbird e-mail client, says a reliance on proprietary technologies is still an obstacle for IT directors looking to deploy open source in the enterprise.

Mozilla Corporation CEO Mitchell Baker readily admitted to Silicon.com that the enterprise is "not our sweet spot" but said the organization offers an enterprise customization kit created by an IBM developer and said it's interested in working with partners to address the needs of corporate IT.

"The gold is the company that steps up and says, 'I'm willing to do something,'" Baker said.

While many IT directors do allow the open-source browser to be used on company time, those who don't are often held back by the proprietary technologies employed on their intranets.

"Enterprises have intranets that only work with (Microsoft's) IE," Baker said. "We can't fix their intranet."

Another hurdle Firefox must overcome is the "heartbreakingly slow" process many enterprises go through to certify the use of a tool as critical as a Web browser, according to Baker.

It's this need to comply with proprietary technology--as well as general quality issues--which, Baker claims, keeps IT departments from going with client-side open-source applications, not merely the fact they're open source.

On the server side, though, she said, "I hear open source is in the enterprise--sometimes it's open and acknowledged, sometimes it's not."

The next version of Mozilla's Web browser, Firefox 2.0, is due out in the third quarter of this year. New features will aim to make "using information quicker, easier and better," said Baker. The new Firefox will sport improved tabs and search boxes, better use of RSS, and antiphishing and other security enhancements.

Baker said Mozilla's 2005 revenue was in the "tens of millions of dollars" range--and that the organization is now investigating ways to give some of that back to the volunteer development community.

"Some of that revenue should find its way into the community in some form," she said.

This compensation is more likely to take the form of hardware gifts or other resources, not fat paychecks, though.

"We could never pay enough people to make Firefox," especially at the level they'd make at rivals such as Microsoft, she said. "We won't be doing that."

Baker explained that Mozilla is in the process of hiring an individual to spend six months figuring out how to give some of its profits back to the community.

Sylvia Carr of Silicon.com reported from London.

See more CNET content tagged:
Mitchell Baker, enterprise, director of information technology, Mozilla Corp., open source

14 comments

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AD - GPO integration
I personally love Firefox and use it both on my Mac and PC. However as an IT manager I can safely safe the biggest reason we have not even thought about rolling FIrefox in our network is lack of Administrative controls. Give the IT department ADM files so we can controls the browser via GPOs and you may see more of an acceptance. Google has it - many have rolled that out.

Erick
Posted by erickgrau (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
AD - GPO integration
I personally love Firefox and use it both on my Mac and PC. However as an IT manager I can safely safe the biggest reason we have not even thought about rolling FIrefox in our network is lack of Administrative controls. Give the IT department ADM files so we can controls the browser via GPOs and you may see more of an acceptance. Google has it - many have rolled that out.

Erick
Posted by erickgrau (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
One major reason...
for this is the CIO level on down need to protect their fiefdoms.
'doze (and it's cousin IE) require an ARMY to keep up with all of
the patches / anti_____ware and the mirad of other problems
with the OS. This army need sergeants, and officers (read
managers) to manage them. These are high-paying, low
producing jobs that should be eliminated.
The decision to drive open source must be on a cost savings
basis, and directed to (most) CIOs from their bosses. How can a
CIO deliver high-quality services to the business and keep costs
in check? REDUCE MANAGEMNT OF IT RESOURCES! Dump M$,
and go with open source.
Posted by robot999 (109 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Another reason...
Enterprises take "proprietary" vendors seriously because they know they have a big financial stake in supporting their products. Open source will always have a "neat toy" image until it's tied to big dollars.

Also, in the case of Mozilla, it hurts that the front person is Mitchell Baker. If they really wanted to sell into corporate, they'd get someone who looks like Mitt Romney to be the public face.
Posted by Betty Roper (121 comments )
Link Flag
One major reason...
for this is the CIO level on down need to protect their fiefdoms.
'doze (and it's cousin IE) require an ARMY to keep up with all of
the patches / anti_____ware and the mirad of other problems
with the OS. This army need sergeants, and officers (read
managers) to manage them. These are high-paying, low
producing jobs that should be eliminated.
The decision to drive open source must be on a cost savings
basis, and directed to (most) CIOs from their bosses. How can a
CIO deliver high-quality services to the business and keep costs
in check? REDUCE MANAGEMNT OF IT RESOURCES! Dump M$,
and go with open source.
Posted by robot999 (109 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Another reason...
Enterprises take "proprietary" vendors seriously because they know they have a big financial stake in supporting their products. Open source will always have a "neat toy" image until it's tied to big dollars.

Also, in the case of Mozilla, it hurts that the front person is Mitchell Baker. If they really wanted to sell into corporate, they'd get someone who looks like Mitt Romney to be the public face.
Posted by Betty Roper (121 comments )
Link Flag
State of Alaska
Uses Mozilla products exclusively - however (and no one in the the State's many IT Departments understand why) we're about to go Microsoft for our email server software and therefore email clients.

Our current system, based on Mozilla, Firefox and Thunderbird, as well as the relevant Linux/Unix boxes, fiber cabling, etc we provide internet service at about $2-$3 per State employee per year.

Moving to Exchange servers and Outlook, due to it's incredible inefficiencies, as well as the necessity to install upwards of ten times the number of email servers, as well as the cost of putting Office 2003 on every workstation, this will jump to at least $10 per user per year.

This is a very optimistic number, and no one working in any State IT Dept. believes it. We reckon the final cost will approach $30-$40 per user, per year - for a slower system with less storage (because you remove the option of local HD storage for email, and replace it with server/HD appliance based storage).

The most common expression heard from State of Alaska IT employees these days is "***? I'm using Thunderbird anyway, screw Outlook it's crap and dangerously insecure.. and don't get me started on IE"...
Posted by ajbright (447 comments )
Reply Link Flag
State of Alaska
Uses Mozilla products exclusively - however (and no one in the the State's many IT Departments understand why) we're about to go Microsoft for our email server software and therefore email clients.

Our current system, based on Mozilla, Firefox and Thunderbird, as well as the relevant Linux/Unix boxes, fiber cabling, etc we provide internet service at about $2-$3 per State employee per year.

Moving to Exchange servers and Outlook, due to it's incredible inefficiencies, as well as the necessity to install upwards of ten times the number of email servers, as well as the cost of putting Office 2003 on every workstation, this will jump to at least $10 per user per year.

This is a very optimistic number, and no one working in any State IT Dept. believes it. We reckon the final cost will approach $30-$40 per user, per year - for a slower system with less storage (because you remove the option of local HD storage for email, and replace it with server/HD appliance based storage).

The most common expression heard from State of Alaska IT employees these days is "***? I'm using Thunderbird anyway, screw Outlook it's crap and dangerously insecure.. and don't get me started on IE"...
Posted by ajbright (447 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not entirely true
While Mozilla itself does not provide msi or adm files, they recommend this: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.frontmotion.com/Firefox/fmfirefox.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.frontmotion.com/Firefox/fmfirefox.htm</a>

I have used it in a business network for over a year without a single problem.
Posted by camel828 (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
world is not only English
Unfortunately, they only provide packages in English.

For those who would like to deploy Firefox or Thunderbird in their company (through Samba or AD), they can do it with the original Firefox/Thunderbird installer - just use a silent flag to install it.

More details can be found here: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://wpkg.org/index.php/Firefox" target="_newWindow">http://wpkg.org/index.php/Firefox</a>

If you want to deploy Firefox with themes, extensions, settings, you can also look here: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://firefox.dbltree.com/" target="_newWindow">http://firefox.dbltree.com/</a>
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.mozilla.org/projects/cck/firefox/" target="_newWindow">http://www.mozilla.org/projects/cck/firefox/</a>
Posted by mangoo78 (2 comments )
Link Flag
Not entirely true
While Mozilla itself does not provide msi or adm files, they recommend this: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.frontmotion.com/Firefox/fmfirefox.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.frontmotion.com/Firefox/fmfirefox.htm</a>

I have used it in a business network for over a year without a single problem.
Posted by camel828 (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
world is not only English
Unfortunately, they only provide packages in English.

For those who would like to deploy Firefox or Thunderbird in their company (through Samba or AD), they can do it with the original Firefox/Thunderbird installer - just use a silent flag to install it.

More details can be found here: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://wpkg.org/index.php/Firefox" target="_newWindow">http://wpkg.org/index.php/Firefox</a>

If you want to deploy Firefox with themes, extensions, settings, you can also look here: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://firefox.dbltree.com/" target="_newWindow">http://firefox.dbltree.com/</a>
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.mozilla.org/projects/cck/firefox/" target="_newWindow">http://www.mozilla.org/projects/cck/firefox/</a>
Posted by mangoo78 (2 comments )
Link Flag
 

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