Projity exanding open source, Saas attack against Microsoft Project

Projity is turning up the heat on its SaaS and open source attack on Microsoft Project.The San Mateo, Calif.
Written by Paula Rooney, Contributor on

Projity is turning up the heat on its SaaS and open source attack on Microsoft Project.

The San Mateo, Calif. company is launching next week the next major release of its commercial project management service, Project-ON-Demand.

Projity is also looking to expand its footprint in the open source space with support programs for its OpenProj desktop, deals with Linux distributors and possibly offering its server-side software as open source.

Marc O'Brien, chief executive of Projity, said the company is planning to offer commercial support programs for its open source project management desktop next year and is considering releasing some of its server-side code such as multi-projecting and reporting under an open source license.

"We're rolling out support programs to augment that. It's another monetization opportunity," O'Brien said about his open source desktop, which is designed to work with leading open source office suites including OpenOffice, StarOffice and IBM Symphony. "We do see that request out there."

The Projity exec also hinted that the company is close to a deal to bundle OpenProj with Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop and has also had discussions with Red Hat and Ubuntu. OpenProj is currently bundled with Mandriva, another Linux distribution that is popular in Europe and is being marketed in the U.S. "

"We've got major visibility at the distros. We are speaking to Red Hat, Novell, and Ubuntu and we're getting a warm reception because those companies are now orienting their desktops to the business community where ROI is important," he said.

Projity claims that its open source project management desktop has been downloaded 175,000 times in its first three months on the market. It is released under the OSI-approved CPAL license.

The 6MB OpenProj download supports Linux, Macintosh and Windows and is free of charge. It comes with an open [Microsoft]Project filter.

Projity makes its money on its commercial software-as-a-service offering called Project-ON-Demand, which has client and server side components and is offered at $19.99 per month.

Even as the company steps ups its attack against Microsoft Project on that front, it is also considering offering its server-side components under an open source license. "We're thrilled to open source our desktop and we'll have to address [the server-side]," he said.

Projity is turning up the heat on its No. 1 rival, Microsoft, whose dominant Project project management application is ubiquitous in the marketplace due to lack of competition, O'Brien claims.

Next week, the company will launch a major revison of its Project-ON-Demand Saas offering that features a slick Ajax interface to improve usability and enhanced server-side reporting features. Projity also plans to offer team collaboration and time cards features.

O'Brien is optimistic about his chances, claiming that Microsoft has failed to offer an Office 2007 bundle with Project included and is offering the standard version at $599 and Pro version at a steeper price of $999.00.

"I don't want to wake a giant but it may be hubris on Microsoft's part. You can't find an Office suite that includes Project and they've bumped the price. It's a very high priced market now and the number of competitors has dwindled to almost none. "

Given that, Projity expects to see more interest in its SaaS offering and its new open source offering. He claims Projity has several large deals pending in Europe, including one company that replaced 3500 copies of Microsoft Project with OpenProj. He also claims that Peugot is using OpenProj with SLED on its desktops.

"There was a big gap out there and and so we know this is another cog in the wheel that helps the entire industry," he said. "It's interesting to see the development of the open source marketplace. It's no longer just a fringe element of develping economies for free software. We don't run into objections about open source."

"A day in a life without Microsoft is becoming real," he added.

O'Brien is an industry veteran who in the 1990s co-founded an ASP called Web Project that hosted project management software. It was financially unfeasible but the effort was udnerwritten by Sun and Cisco. In 2000, the company was acquired by Novient. Key execs including O'Brien waited until their non compete expired and in 2000 created Projity after seeing this large software sector "completely abdicated" to Microsoft, O'Brien said.

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