Platform And Open Core Redux; MindTouch Cloud Vs. OnDemand

Roesevelt David Fulkerson (RDF)

This morning at about 4 AM my 9 month old son, Roesevelt, woke me We call him Roe. He’s been sick, but don’t worry he’s getting better. After getting him settled again I hit the interwebs and discovered the following tweets from @SamJ.

@SamJ Tweet

@SamJ Tweet

@SamJ Tweet

Great questions! First let me address the “crippled” MindTouch core comment.

MindTouch releases 95% of our source code under an open source license. We primarily use GPL2, but some components (MindTouch Dream) are released under Apache. I have written at length about Open Core (this thread in the forums is a helpful read because several posts cover this topic). Download here, access code repo, bug tracking (you must be logged in and to see bugs, but you can create an account here), community forums, wiki, dev blog. So, is MindTouch Core “crippled”? Certainly not. MindTouch Core should be thought of as an appserver that eases the complexity of federating systems and accelerates the development of collaborative and business automation apps. Thinking of MindTouch Core as “crippled” is the equivalent of calling JBoss “crippled” because not all apps built on it are open source.

MindTouch is a collaboration framework and a new kind of appserver that has been moved “up-stack”. The intent being the enablement of non-programmers to perform light weight application development and business automation (watch the videos in these: example, and another). Also, MindTouch provides a development platform that helps programmers accelerate development (example and another). Realizing this, it should be obvious that MindTouch Core is not crippleware. Anymore, that is, than JBoss, SpringSource or Apache webserver are.

What’s cloud about MindTouch? A lot in fact. The platform has a web oriented architecture (WOA); meaning, RESTful design applied to web technologies. WOA makes it very easy to scale on cloud infrastructures and extending the platform is remarkably easy.  An easy to understand example, “cloud” side effect of this architecture is the storage service. With the addition of an Amazon S3 key in the control panel MindTouch will store file attachments on the Amazon storage fabric. Another example is support for multi-tenancy. Even users of Core have large multi-tenant farms of MindTouch (here’s an awesome example).

MindTouch is a composition of decoupled REST web services, even the UI is a decoupled client that sits atop this composition (API Reference). Each service can be moved to remote servers. Similarly, remote services can easily be federated with MindTouch. The important components of MindTouch are the wiki-like user interface, the web-service orchestration engine, message bus, access control layer and the DekiScript language and runtime, which provides a secure and governable abstraction for writing custom logic.

MindTouch has been engineered to provide an easy to use environment for human collaboration. Equally important, however, is the ability to perform machine to machine collaboration and enable the creation of composite applications and mashups (dynamic reports) across systems. So, for the less technical reader, MindTouch provides an easy to use collaborative environment that makes a fitting “glue for cloud apps”, data source, etc.

What’s the difference between MindTouch 2009 OnDemand and MindTouch Cloud? Not that much. However, there are some pretty important distinctions.

  1. Provisioning. You can launch a MindTouch Cloud in seconds. MindTouch 2009 OnDemand must be manually provisioned and it generally takes us a business day to instantiate it for you.
  2. Server access. You do not have access to the server with MindTouch Cloud. You do with MindTouch OnDemand.
  3. Customization. You can customize MindTouch Cloud via the control panel with predefined HTML regions and CSS overrides. Since you have server access with MindTouch OnDemand you can create your own site templates and skins.
  4. Extensibility. You can not write custom extensions on MindTouch Cloud. If you know anything about MindTouch you know extensions are one of the most remarkable features of the platform. (about extensions, XML DekiScript Extension, C# Extension, PHP). MindTouch OnDemand, recall: server access. Go nuts.
  5. Custom logic. With both Cloud and OnDemand you have access to DekiScript and jQuery. Again, go nuts.

Lastly, as you likely suspected, MindTouch Cloud is running on Amazon Web Services in a multi-tenant configuration.

I hope this clears up any confusion. The MindTouch.com web team is working hard to increase clarity on this topic. Please keep your questions and feedback coming.

4 Comments

  1. It’s worth noting that many of the features that are marked missing in the “Open Core” (GPL) edition on the feature matrix at http://www.mindtouch.com/Products, such as single-sign-on with NTLM or LDAP accounts, are very much available in the GPL edition.

  2. “Severely crippled core”?!? I strongly disagree with that statement. SamJ must not have used Mindtouch Core very much to get a sense of it’s depth and richness. I am long time user of Mindtouch (since the Deki-Hayes version) at the non-profit organization I work at. With our limited budget Core is an ideal online tool for helping staff and volunteers collaborate with one another. There are a wide variety of templates, extensions, and scripts. We use Mindtouch for documentation and project management. The ability to use jQuery with DekiScript has allowed me to easily create numerous forms and tables. I have a multi-tenant site running in a VM. I really appreciate the frequent addition of new useful features and easy updates The online user community is great. The wysiwyg editor, search tool, improved skins, and email notifications have helped win over my non-technical co-workers.

  3. @Crb,

    You’re correct. Some of the features listed as not avail in Core in the product matrix do indeed have community or earlier beta versions of said component released under GPL and available for use with Core. They’re not listed because, as is the case with the LDAP/AD/NTLM support for example, these are not as full featured and are not supported with the commercial build.

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