Friday, 10 July 2009

The future of ClearCanvas


I got the following response from Norman over at ClearCanvas to clarify my speculation that a paid for version of ClearCanvas is on the way.

With respect to the ImageServer, it will ALWAYS continue to be an open source product. Same goes for the viewer and the RIS. One of our proprietary offerings is what we're calling the Enterprise Server, which amongst other things, provides our full suite of products (including the Workstation and ImageServer) centralized user management, roaming profiles and IHE compliant auditing. This is not an enterprise version of the ImageServer per se--it's really a separate product that the ImageServer can talk to. You don't need it to run the ImageServer. We probably need to be clearer about this in the docs.
The decision to offer proprietary products in the first place was not an easy one. Ideally we'd like to release everything as OSS--that reflects the spirit on which ClearCanvas was founded. But at the end of the day, we have to make sure we are sustainable as a company. While 95% of our code may be free (in the free beer sense), its development is not. We are a company of 17 highly experienced professionals who have engeineered RIS/PACS systems before and that costs real money. That means that we need to have a variety of revenue streams, including service/support, development consulting, and yes, traditional paid-for products. (We're primarily a development consulting shop right now.) To put all this into perspective, this is a pretty common open source business model these days, with companies such as SugarCRM, DotNetNuke, Kitware, etc., offering a small complement of proprietary, value-added products to their core open source product.

So it seems as though ClearCanvas is still striving to keep the majority of the applications free and open source, but there will be a commercial arm with a separate product suite to pay the bills. Thank you very much for your response and clarification Norman. I am really glad to hear that ClearCanvas still intends to keep the spirit of OSS alive in its products. Keep up the good work guys. I am looking forward to seeing what's in store in version 1.5.