Mozilla: An Enterprise Firefox Strategy Is in the Works

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It's been a tempestuous week of controversy ever since the release of the Firefox 5 browser, thanks largely to what's been perceived as a growing schism between Mozilla's strategy and the needs of enterprise users.


Firefox director Asa Dotzler didn't put too fine a point on it, of course, when he said in an online Mozilla discussion group that, "corporate deployments have never been a Firefox focus."

I believe that's a perfectly legitimate choice, as I noted earlier in the week--not just legitimate, but potentially a very smart one, given that few products and companies can be all things to all people or users.

Still, a vocal few -- amplified in large part by competing Microsoft and its fans -- have since done their best to paint Mozilla as an enterprise hater pursuing a "recipe for failure."

'Focused on the Needs of the Individual'

It would be a rare organization indeed that would be content with such an image, and apparently Mozilla is no exception. It could be, too, that the project is only just now fully realizing how dedicated a corporate following it has.

In any case, Mozilla on Tuesday penned a formal response to the weeklong brouhaha.

"The Mozilla Community has focused our efforts on the needs of the individual user, and prioritized the product roadmap and features accordingly," wrote Jay Sullivan, Mozilla's vice president of products, in a post on the Mozilla blog. "However, as is the case with many technologies, loyal Firefox users and their IT departments have sought to bring Firefox into their places of work."

'Security Is Paramount'

Sullivan defended Firefox's recently introduced rapid release schedule, arguing that "providing updates to Firefox more frequently allows us to secure users against emerging threats and provide the platform for innovation that today's rich and compelling Web experiences demand."

He also recognized the extra testing time enterprises require, however.

"A key challenge for enterprises is that they need to certify their websites, apps and add-ons each time Firefox is updated," he wrote. "This can take weeks or months. Security is also paramount, enterprises need access to a version that includes all known security fixes."

'We Are Exploring Solutions'

Accordingly, "we are exploring solutions that balance these needs, with active discussion in our community," Sullivan said.

"Open Source software is well-suited to these challenges, as interested parties can come together to build what is needed," he added. "We look forward to continuing the dialog, and will post updates as they become available."

Later in the day on Tuesday, Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs summed it up nicely on Twitter: “Enterprises are built of people, and Mozilla is fundamentally about people. We support Firefox users wherever they are.”

In other words, enterprise users: you've been heard. No need to abandon Firefox and all its advantages just yet.

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