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Content Log



John Newton's thoughts, ideas and opinions on content management, enterprise software and open source.



Updated: 2014-10-15T18:09:01+01:00

 



The Digital Enterprise of the Future

2014-10-15T18:16:21+01:00

During the past month we have had our user conference, Alfresco Summit, in San Francisco and London and it was great to see everyone. I normally give the corporate direction keynote at the end of the first day. Given all...During the past month we have had our user conference, Alfresco Summit, in San Francisco and London and it was great to see everyone. I normally give the corporate direction keynote at the end of the first day. Given all the sessions that are presented during the day, I like to add a theme to lighten up what can be serious and technical information. This year's theme was Star Trek only because I liked idea of the pun on the Enterprise, but also because I have been watching Star Trek all my life and it truly was an inspiration to get into technology. When my father became the Operations Officer on the real USS Enterprise, I considered it destiny. The more serious theme in the presentation is the transformation of the enterprise into a digital enterprise. Immediately many people think, "didn't that happen in the 1990s?" Well, no. Companies put a eCommerce front-end with their web site and although they put the label "Digital" on it, it's not exactly restructuring the organization. As Gartner has put it, "Digital business is not the decade-old concept of e-business in a new wrapper. It is a radically different and more disruptive change.” This was in a report titled "What the Board of Directors Needs to Know about Digital Business", a title which in itself indicates things must be different. Also, with Gartner's Nexus of Mobile, Social (really more like Forrester's Consumerization of Software), Cloud and Big Data, there is more of a point to that Nexus other than forces colliding and doing what exactly? I guess you can call it Digital Fusion. I have been able to talk to a lot of analysts, consultants and customers about their digital initiatives and have had a chance to reflect on them. Also the AIIM board has taken this up as a topic and it has become a theme of AIIM's next conference. I even saw Geoffrey Moore get into it with his "Let's Get Digital" post on LinkedIn.  However, despite all the excitement and amount of words that have been expended on this transformation, there is still not a clear definition of what a Digital Enterprise is, let alone a road map to get there. I believe that there is a significant place for Enterprise Content Management, Process Management and Collaboration in making this transformation. The transformation itself will have a dramatic impact on our lives as knowledge workers as well. You can see my thoughts in the presentation on SlideShare below. I'd like to know yours. I hope to write more about this topic, because I have a heck of a lot of thoughts on it already. But you know me, maybe I will and maybe I won't. ;-) allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="356" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="//www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/40260651" style="border: 1px solid #CCC; border-width: 1px; margin-bottom: 5px; max-width: 100%;" width="427"> The Digital Enterprise - Alfresco Summit Keynote 2014 from John Newton [...]



Future of Work Video Series

2014-10-09T23:38:53+01:00

About a year ago, we started filming a series that we called the Future of Work. We sought out experts in the field who are looking at the future of how we work from very different angles. This will probably... About a year ago, we started filming a series that we called the Future of Work. We sought out experts in the field who are looking at the future of how we work from very different angles. This will probably be a long-term project that explores our work, our tools, our workplace and our place in business and tries to imagine what each will be like over the next ten years. We have material to fill several episodes and plan to release them over the next several months. In the first episode, we explore what our workplace will be like and the role that technology will play. For this episode, we talk to Tim Tuttle, CEO and Founder of Expect Labs, Matt Mills of Featurespace and previously of Aurasma, and John Mancini, President of AIIM. width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/egdLEMJYa7E" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">  We chose Tim because of his background in Artificial Intelligence (AI) at MIT and his application of AI technology in the workplace with Expect Labs. We discovered Matt when we were exploring Augmented Reality. H, he is now at Featurespace, which is applying research on behavioral analytics in the workplace. Both subject areas are fascinating. I have been involved with AIIM for several years now and it is always worth talking to John Mancini about how content and process technology will affect our workplace and how we do work. From my personal perspective, I am hoping and expecting that technology is going to make work easier and more natural. Being an early adopter of technology over the last three decades, I can't say that technology has always made life easier or more focused. Adopting the latest technology, although almost always fun, comes with the cost of adoption, a learning curve and a natural distraction. My early adoption of blogging, Facebook, Twitter and Quora have always come at the expense of getting stuff done at work. I may be in the know, but it's not necessarily helping me get my job done. What I hope and I expect is that as it develops, technology will become less distracting, more focused, more natural and simpler than preceding versions. The technologies that Tim, Matt and John discuss may well be the solution to these problems of lack of simplicity and focus. For example, rooms that comprehend who has entered and can listen to and understand conversations will be able to provide a context to capturing and delivering information. Ubiquitous technology that includes being surrounded by touchscreen devices will make that information available wherever and whenever we need it. Artificial intelligence that is statistically driven will be able to understand what we can and cannot do and automatically provide support when we need it. Not just one, but multiple intelligent assistants will be built into all the applications we use and will be expert at how those applications work and the support you as the user need. These are pretty fantastic things to consider.  In future episodes, we will be exploring how we collaborate, what the new tools of the office will be and how our businesses will be fundamentally changed by the future of our work. It won't be surprising that we will be focusing on information, types of activity, work process and the nature of work itself rather than the latest shiny devices. These are my interests and it is difficult to purely extrapolate technology to see where we are going. It takes a range of skills and insights to try to determine where we are going rather than just trying to figure out what the next five version[...]



Remembering Jeffrey McManus

2013-07-22T17:50:05+01:00

My brother-in-law, Jeffrey McManus (on Facebook), passed away on July 5th at the age of 46. It was way too soon and unexpected. This came at a very bittersweet time in our lives as my son, Michael, was about to...My brother-in-law, Jeffrey McManus (on Facebook), passed away on July 5th at the age of 46. It was way too soon and unexpected. This came at a very bittersweet time in our lives as my son, Michael, was about to graduate from secondary school on July 6th and my daughter was just finishing her middle school on the same day. We took time to reflect on our long planned holiday in Greece prior to Michael going away to Georgetown in August.  Jeffrey McManus I can't imagine what my sister and her kids are going through right now. It is great to know that they have been surrounded by friends and family that celebrated Jeffrey's life. We truly wished that we could be at his memorial in San Francisco on the 19th. We celebrated his life with Singapore Slings on the same day and I felt like I was the only guy in Greece wearing an Aloha shirt - one of the items specified in the dress code for his memorial. My kids knew him just as Uncle Jeffrey. The kind of uncle that shows up in movies made by SNL alumni and who any kid would love to have. There were very rarely any mopey faces around when Jeffrey was around. But with all the notices and comments on Facebook, my kids were wondering why he was so important. That can be summed up on one word - Community. Jeffrey and my sister were part of the nascent social movement that predated any of this Facebook stuff. They were active members on the Well while Jeffrey earned a living at coding, teaching and writing on Microsoft technologies such as ASPs, SQL Server, C# and VB. See Jeffrey's books on Amazon. (http://www.amazon.com/Jeffrey-P.-McManus/e/B000APSY3K) Microsoft didn't really quite organize community the way that you would recognize today, that didn't stop Jeffrey. He would speak at events around the world evangilizing Microsoft technologies the way an open source community would do today. Using these technologies, he pioneered an API and social community with Insero, a company he co-founded with my sister. From there he went on to establish the developer community for E-Bay, at the time a real innovation. Through trial and error, he helped develop the best practices in engaging developers and have them form a community. He did this with the understanding of someone who was a developer himself. He did this through developing the tools that developers need such as APIs and connections to IDEs. Most of all, he did it through his big, extroverted personality that developers found infectious. That's not to take away from the technical innovations he made while there, such as developing RESTful APIs only a couple of years after Roy Fielding's paper describing REST. In addition, he helped figure out the taxonomies that vendors and buyers could access products from the E-Bay platform. He really helped make E-Bay a platform, not just a site. He became the expert in community development and naturally socialized with the connected technology crowd. People sought him out to participate in conferences. That's one of the first ins that I had to meet up with Tim O'Reilly. I would often name drop my brother-in-law as at least a conversation starter. I don't remember who went to Yahoo first, Jeffrey or my sister, but Yahoo recruited Jeffrey to develop their developer community. Unfortunately, this meant trying to tackle some of Yahoo's basic issues such as usability, which he was the first to admit was not his forte. He made an impact there, but Yahoo wasted the opportunity that they had with him on board. So he struck out on his own with some of the many ideas of a very fertile mind. He had the brilliant idea of Approver.com, which was either too ahead of its time or he was not interested enough in taking venture money. He later developed CodeLesson to provide an online developer instruction experience that bridged the gap[...]



Cloud vs. Open Source? I don't think so!

2012-02-10T17:21:46+00:00

Is cloud a threat to open source? Far from it! Not only does the cloud run on open source, but the cloud provides new opportunities for open source, content management and Alfresco. It's just another, but exciting place to deploy open source. Photo Credit: aufziehvogel2006 (Kai) at Flickr There are some who are asking if cloud will have an impact the growth of Open Source. For instance, my fellow AIIM board member Lubor Ptacek from OpenText suggests in his predictions for 2012 that "the Great Open Source Movement will hit the trough of disillusionment in 2012 - courtesy of the cloud." Presumably Lubor means Content Management in the cloud, because the cloud runs on Open Source. Operating System? Open Source (Linux as in LAMP)! Database? Open Source! Web Server? Open Source! Big Data? Open Source! App Development? Open Source! The cloud runs on Open Source and not Open Text -- or Oracle or IBM or Microsoft. I am assuming that he means the Open Source that has been a threat to his business of ECM (OpenText) or WCM (Vignette) and therefore he means Alfresco for ECM and Drupal and Joomla for WCM. At Alfresco, Open Source offers no hype cycle "trough of disillusion"; we only seem to be seeing the "Slope of Enlightenment". Our Open Source Community platform continues to grow apace driven by new releases, such as the new Alfresco 4. There are now over 3.5 million downloads of Alfresco and the number of Community installations is in six figures. As a business, bookings grew 60% year over year in our last fiscal quarter ending in November. This growth is based upon significant revenue figures, not small numbers, and we are now the second largest Open Source company by revenue after Red Hat. We have a real business with over 2000 significant customers using Alfresco for mission critical information in many important industries. If that is disillusionment Lubor, I would hate to think on which slope OpenText is right now! There is nothing to suggest that cloud and Open Source are mutually exclusive. The cloud is built from open source and if open source is architected to run in the cloud, it will. At Alfresco we have spent the last several years building multi-tenancy and scalability features into the Alfresco system to ensure that it can run in the cloud. This January we launched our cloud offering into beta and expect it to go into production later this Spring. The cloud will become yet another means of using Alfresco as well as trying the product before you buy. I have already articulated the use cases that we think will be important for running in the cloud. In addition, since Alfresco is capable of running an entire system on a single virtual machine or Amazon AWS instance, Alfresco is already used in many private and on-demand deployments. Rather than a threat, the cloud becomes a really big opportunity! So rather than the cloud being a threat to Open Source, I presume that Lubor means cloud-based file sharing services such as Dropbox, Box, Huddle and others are a threat. Some of these are on the sharp edge of the Hype cycle and are gaining a lot of marketing oxygen as a result. There is no doubt of the popularity of Dropbox compared to anything in ECM, there are reportedly in excess of 50 million users. However, Dropbox is very complementary with Alfresco, which is why we will be providing an integration to/from Dropbox in the near future. Box is a company with more enterprise aspirations, comparing themselves to SharePoint, and although we rarely see them in the market today, we may in the future. However, Box is nothing like a SharePoint, or Alfresco or any other real content management system, as it lacks important features for content and document management such as metadata, workflow, rules and more than rudimentary policies. We shall see how cloud-based file management services and content management in the cloud evolve over the coming couple of years based upon the use cases I mentioned earlier. As with on-premise proprietary syst[...]



Symbiosis of Cloud and On-Premise Enterprises

2012-02-07T18:38:14+00:00

Some organizations will run headlong into the cloud. Some CIOs will never touch it. The use cases will determine who will pursue which path. In reality, most organizations do not have an either / or choice, but must do both. Looking at the symbiosis of cloud systems with those on-premise can give a clue for some organizations on how they can get the best early value from the cloud. For those that have already started, symbiosis is a way to lure in the rest of the organization. Symbiosis: One is free to move, the other is not. But they both need each other.  Eventually we will see computing as a utility like electricity that will be consumed on demand. I also believe that cloud infrastructure providers will ultimately be able to undercut the cost advantages and carbon footprint of the data centers of even the largest companies. Just not yet. As Gartner’s 2012 Predicts, Cloud Computing dated December 8, 2011: "The perceived (and real) risks to the technical reliability, integrity and security of applications and data that are entrusted to cloud providers hold back organizations' initiatives." For many CIOs, we as an industry still need to overcome security issues, build trust from the IT organization, ensure open exchange of information, and even negotiate treaties on the rights of information domicile and ownership. However, there are benefits to using the cloud and even the public cloud starting today that can transcend these issues. There are several use cases that require a cloud platform, particularly in the context of content and collaboration, that would not be possible or at least very difficult today. The first is when sharing information between companies, such as those that are currently described as an extranet, only easier to set up. The second is when information is public anyway and the efficiencies of cloud make distributing this information more efficient as well. The third is where the risk or cost of hacking or intrusion is low compared to a relatively high cost of operating computing resources internally. The fourth is when the need to provide information externally, particularly for the purposes of accessing in mobile environments, outweighs the relative risk of exposure of that information. Business to Business Collaboration Credit: Confederation of Indian Industry, Jan 2011 Business-to-Business Collaboration through IT systems has always been difficult when any one side of the collaboration is responsible for the infrastructure. Trying to get the IT organization in a large corporation, even a technology vendor, to set up an external system that is accessible from outside the firewall is nearly impossible—not from a technology perspective, but from an administrative perspective. And there is no way that the IT organization is providing a VPN. This often leads to the default means for collaboration, which is email. I have been involved in enough standards and board meetings to recognize this is a real problem for even the big IT vendors. Perhaps this can be done with Private Cloud instances outside the firewall, but that again would require thinly stretched IT resources. Yet this needs to be done when two or more companies cooperate on development of products, joint bid offerings to customers or coordinated marketing campaigns. At the end of the collaboration, the results need to be owned by everyone, not just the one who set up the collaboration. Public Information Information that is public by default provides another opportunity to share in the cloud. When I first started broaching the subject of Cloud Computing with CIOs and IT departments, I was met with a bit of incredulity about why anyone would want to do this. However, the idea of putting information that was already or should be public in the Cloud didn't really meet much resistance. After all, this is what everyone is doing with web content, either in a DMZ or CDN and Cloud provides an excellent vehicle to m[...]



Content Monkey Predicts 2012

2012-01-31T17:33:50+00:00

With the Prediction 2012 season closing, I use a dart-throwing monkey to predict what will happen in the world of Content Management. After all, experts are actually worse at predicting the future than dart-throwing monkeys.It's the last day of January, so I am not too late for predictions for the new year. Besides, it's my birthday and what a great time to predict the future. This year I am influenced by a book I received for Christmas, "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Nobel prize laureate Daniel Kahneman, from our one of investors, Accel Partners. Every year they send out a profound book to their portfolio companies and boy is this one potentially life changing. I won't go into the book in detail, but one of the things that Kahneman, who is a psychologist and decision theorist, discusses is why experts are so bad at predicting the future. There are a few reasons including some things called the Theory-Induced Blindness, Optimistic Bias, Hindsight Bias and the Planning Fallacy among others. But put simply, experts just try to be too clever. Kahneman referenced the 20-year study by Philip Tetlock at the University of Pennsylvania that studied 284 experts in economics and politics and 80,000 predictions. The experts were were asked to rate the probabilities of three alternative outcomes: the persistence of the status quo, more of something such as political freedom or economic growth, or less of that thing. As Kahneman states: "The results were devastating. The experts performed worse than they would have if they had simply assigned equal probabilities to each of the three potential outcomes. In other words, people who spend their time, and earn their living, studying a particular topic produce poorer predictions than dart-throwing monkeys who would have distributed their choices evenly over the options. Even in the region they knew best, experts were not significantly better than nonspecialists."  Tania, the dart-throwing Content Monkey (attribution: Quixado on Flickr) So there you have it, if we want to know what will happen in 2012, we need a dart-throwing Content Monkey to decide the future. All you analysts please take note, she (I asked her what sex she was) will _probably_ (and the operative word is probably) be more successful than you will be. Her name is Tania Majerus, see http://www.kleimo.com/random/name.cfm and I asked her a series of questions related to "either/or" answers or "less than, same as, more than" answers. I will add my "expert" analysis of the result, because Kahneman suggests that we humans need to think causally and will always look for a cause even when events are random. I swear these are the answers that "Tania" had generated. Will the ECM market still exist by the end of the year? Content Monkey says "Yes!" I guess a market that is some $4 billion or so wouldn't disappear overnight, with a year being classified as overnight. There is some talk about it disappearing or perhaps being absorbed into the infrastructure or being merged with the social business sector. It may not be exciting, but it's still there and still very useful. Will Mobile be the next big thing in Content Management? Tania says "Yes!" It's certainly early days, but with the spread of "Bring Your Own Device", users are certainly challenging IT and the organization to accommodate these mobil devices. Smart phones first and then iPads are starting to create their own demands on the usage of content. I see that OpenText has some sort of offering that bridges mobile devices to internal content management systems. It's not exactly a Cloud offering, but I can assume that other ECM vendors will follow suit. Will Cloud be the biggest influence in Content Management? CM says "Yes!" I guess it is only natural to assume this given the high degree of interest in various surveys of CIOs. We have CEO saying that they "must get into the Cloud" whether they know what that means o[...]



HP's Board: What were they thinking?!

2011-08-31T16:57:17+01:00

What are they thinking? HP buying Autonomy! It took everybody by surprise, probably because it isn't the most logical of moves in today's industry. The last rumor I heard connected to Autonomy was nearly a year ago that they were...What are they thinking? HP buying Autonomy! It took everybody by surprise, probably because it isn't the most logical of moves in today's industry. The last rumor I heard connected to Autonomy was nearly a year ago that they were considering buying the Documentum (or should I say "Intelligent Information") division of EMC. But HP giving up on mobile and the PC business to go into search, content management, customer engagement and a much bigger, fuzzier information management realm?  As a product strategy it could have been kind of interesting. Get out of the commodity PC and device business, concentrate on servers and build competitive advantage on the software of the most valuable assets on those servers. It's really too bad they didn't think through the whole Palm acquisition before starting this, but it could have been disruptive. However, this acquisition makes no sense on a lot of different levels. There are three things that will make this impossible - personalities, dis-economies of scale, and trying to do this in a post-technology market. First, the personalities. I could just about imagine Mark Hurd making this work, maybe. However, Leo Apotheker? Did the HP board not realize why Leo was "asked to leave" SAP after a little under a year and a half in the sole CEO job. Perhaps they attributed it to a fatal flaw in the Hasso Plattner-dominated SAP organization. In reality, he was demotivating the whole organization with unclear direction. He was a competent technocrat elevated beyond his abilities in one of software's most demanding leadership positions. Hardly the leadership needed to integrate and realign a major Silicon Valley legend. In addition, his actions in relation to lawsuits from Oracle. Is run and hide really a strategy? Compare this with the decisive way that Larry Page has handled lawsuits against Google. On top of this swing from we are in mobile and now we are in only in servers, can we really discern vision. What are you going to think if you own HP hardware, HP software or Autonomy software? Is this guy going to stick with it?  Best defense is to run and hide? An enthusiastic receptionist at Oracle shared this with me last year. The other personality is Mike Lynch, or Doctor Lynch as he apparently insists on being called by staff. Mike is an extremely intelligent man and has steered Autonomy well through the economic downturn. Creating the largest British tech company, he should be an inspiration to all of us British software companies. He brilliantly positioned the mathematical musings of an 18th Century British theologian, Dr. Thomas Bayes, and turned it into the branding of a must have piece of software. Software that was originally designed to detect submarines. Simply brilliant marketing! However, the man can be very difficult. My colleague John Powell and I met with Mike Lynch ostensibly to OEM some software from Autonomy. What we got was an hour lecture on information management and then finally toward the end he explained that IDOL was everything we needed without listening to our requirements. Autonomy's sales guy saw us out at the end of the meeting and apologized. We didn't really see much reason to proceed.  "Call me the Doctor." Michael Lynch: photo CIO Magazine. Combine these two personalities and how will the two work? Will Lynch subordinate himself to Apotheker? Will Lynch take over? And how can you swing a giant supertanker of a company like HP in an entirely new direction quick enough? Not only are you jettisoning whole product lines, but you are putting existing and future integrated products into an uncertain future. HP as a hardware company has not exactly distinguished itsel[...]



A Month in the Bay Area

2011-08-31T15:49:21+01:00

Sixteen years ago, my wife, my 9 month-old son and I left the San Francisco Bay area to live in the UK. I was still at Documentum, but I had always wanted to return after starting a company, which ended...Sixteen years ago, my wife, my 9 month-old son and I left the San Francisco Bay area to live in the UK. I was still at Documentum, but I had always wanted to return after starting a company, which ended up being Documentum. Since then I have constantly flown back and forth between the UK and SFO.  Friday before last, I returned from one month in the bay area with my family. This is not something I tweeted about or put onto Facebook. There were enough warnings about this on the Internet to make sure I didn't say "Hey burglars! You still have 31 days left to rob my house!" In fact, I unintentionally made it a one month holiday off of Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and most things SocialNetwork. That's me on the left - that little dot next to the Golden Gate Bridge The purpose of the trip was to re-establish connections in the Bay Area (I'm a Cal grad!), to network in Silicon Valley and do a reality or "sur-reality" check on the state of technology. As William Gibson noted "The future is here, just not evenly distributed." Living in Europe has its own interesting sur-realities and in most cases stuff just moves faster (too fast?) in the valley. I have tried to take an extended period of time every 5 years or so and the last time was much longer than that. Besides, I have a lot of family in California and a day trip into SFO or San Jose just doesn't allow any sort of good catch up time. I guess the way to think about it was that I was doing good old fashioned social networking, not internet social networking. I also had a few objectives that I wanted to accomplish. First, I wanted to understand how consumer and enterprise were intersecting. As Geoffrey Moore noted in working session with AIIM, end users of software are asking "Why am I so powerful as a Consumer and so lame as an Employee?" The conclusion that most enterprise software companies have come to as the antidote is to make their software more like consumer software. "We are the Facebook for the enterprise!" they will exclaim. I have never been convinced of this and wanted to get other opinions, particularly of consumer internet companies. I also wanted to see if the traditional enterprise software guys are staring to get it. Second, as we are approaching the launch of our Software as a Service later this year, I wanted to explore what the best practices are in operating SaaS in the Cloud. What are the adoption rates? What are the hardware requirements? What are the best practices in pricing and billing? How do you value a Freemium service? Etc., etc., etc.! Interesting there is more experience of this in San Francisco than on the peninsula. A real reversal of fortunes from when I left the bay area in 1995, not that either is doing too badly! Third, I wanted a first hand observation of the Clockspeed effect first introduced to me by my friend and Documentum co-founder, Howard Shao. (It's too bad he was skiing in South America, which he always does during the North American summer.) The book Clockspeed (http://www.amazon.com/Clockspeed-Winning-Industry-Temporary-Advantage/dp/0738201537) by Charles Fine says that markets consolidate to a point of unsustainable Oligopoly or Monopoly until their whole ecosystem is exploded by a new wave of either vertical or horizontal integration. One example given was the horizontal integration of the Wintel platform that is now being challenged by new vertical integration platforms. These new vertical integration platforms have everything to do with cloud, mobile, social and consumer. This is going to lead to radically new ecosystems and I wanted to meet and work with the participants in these new ecosystems. Finally, it's hard to overem[...]



Alfresco launches new Activiti Business Process Management Initiative

2011-08-31T15:50:28+01:00

Alfresco has launched a new open source project, Activiti Business Process Management Suite along with the Spring Source division of VMware, Signavio and Camunda. We are also very pleased that Tom Baeyens, project founder of JBPM and BPM expert, has joined Alfresco along with his fellow architect Joram Barrez. They bring a wealth of business process experience to a clean slate to build a next generation BPM system that will be licensed under the Apache 2.0 license. This combination can have profound implications for both the business process and content management spaces.Today Alfresco launched a new open source project, Activiti Business Process Management Suite along with the Spring Source division of VMware, Signavio and Camunda. We are also very pleased that Tom Baeyens, project founder of JBPM and BPM expert, has joined Alfresco along with his fellow architect Joram Barrez. They bring a wealth of business process experience to a clean slate to build a next generation BPM system that will be licensed under the Apache 2.0 license. This combination can have profound implications for both the business process and content management spaces. Tom Baeyens  Activiti emerged from our desire to have an Apache-licensed BPM engine. Although we were quite happy with the jBPM engine, it's LGPL license was preventing us from OEM's Alfresco to larger software companies that were concerned about any open source license with the letter G in it. It's irrelevant that they shouldn't be concerned about it, we intended to take care of it. It's understandable that RedHat did not want to change its license, but our business needs dictated that we needed to find an alternative. At the same time, Tom also felt that jBPM should be Apache licensed, but for different reasons. The OMG was making strong progress toward BPMN 2.0 as not just a modeling language, but adding execution semantics to create a language that could be used both for design and for execution. He felt that with the primary design vendors using this tool, the time was right for an Apache-licensed BPM engine. An Apache-license could take the BPM system to where BPM was needed, which was everywhere! After a very short discussion, Tom and Joram joined Alfresco just a couple of months ago and they are already ready to put out their first alpha version of the Activiti BPM engine. They have both been working on this so long, they can create an engine from scratch in their sleep. However, the blank slate has allowed them to think about some of the issues that weren't even around when jBPM was created. For instance, how can you use NOSQL and eventual consistency to create an engine that can scale into the Cloud? What kind of role can scripting through JSR 223 play to enable the use of languages other than Java, such as Groovy, JRuby or JavaScript? How can you create open touch points to content management through CMIS and the OpenCMIS API in Apache Chemistry? By answering these questions, Activiti is addressing the requirements of business process management for new applications. The Activiti engine as small as a few classes that are embedded in your application or as big as an internet and consumer scale engagement server. Applications that wouldn't have even considered a large scale, stand alone workflow server because of cost and complexity will now be able to freely embed a business process engine. However, new Cloud applications In Activiti, we don't only have a BPM engine. There is a complete suite with the engine including a designer from Signavio, user tools and control consoles. Signavio had already been working with BPMN 2.0 and had an MIT license for their designer. Although they have working relationships with other ECM vendors, they are quite happy to work with the wider open source community. Their browser-based and AJAX approach to BPM design will[...]



A shift in Alfresco Community license to LGPL

2010-01-27T19:14:22+00:00

First of all, it's my pleasure to recognize Alfresco's 5th birthday. In January 2005, a group of eleven of us started on a fantastic journey from a familiar world, Enterprise Content Management, into an unfamiliar one, Open Source. During this...First of all, it's my pleasure to recognize Alfresco's 5th birthday. In January 2005, a group of eleven of us started on a fantastic journey from a familiar world, Enterprise Content Management, into an unfamiliar one, Open Source. During this time, we have re-kindled our excitement for ECM, learned a lot about open source and become the largest private open source company. Not bad for a little company in suburban England. One of the things that we have had to learn and be flexible on is the whole area of open source licenses. It's been nearly three years since we went to the GPL license with Alfresco Community. The GPL was and is the most widely used open source license and provided a fairness of use that meant that we could feel comfortable to grow the project, company and brand. Alfresco is now one of the strongest brands in both open source and ECM.Now we have grown the Alfresco brand considerably since its beginning, we believe that we can now move the Alfresco repository to the LGPL license. This moves us back to the model that is similar to the JBoss license model (see JBoss's "Why We Use the LGPL"), which we experimented with in the very early days of Alfresco. Compared to 2005, we see more of an opportunity to be a platform beyond individual applications, particularly with the emergence of CMIS. What the LGPL license provides over GPL is the ability to link in the Alfresco repository without affecting proprietary software that links it. As stated in JBoss's document: We use the LGPL for JBoss because it promotes software freedom without affecting the proprietary software that sits alongside and on top of JBoss. This reflects our feeling too. The LGPL code is share and share alike, but you can link it with any proprietary code without affecting the license of that code. We have considered more liberal licenses as well, but we currently have two main LGPL components - Hibernate for database access and JBPM for workflow - which prevent us from going to something like Apache or BSD licenses. However, this is something we may consider changing in the future. We do this in the spirit of making Alfresco available as a CMIS platform and a general ECM platform to build content applications without inhibiting your business opportunities. What we hope is that your applications will build demand for Alfresco services from Alfresco Software, particularly in larger enterprise environments. What this means practically, is that we are changing the license of all the software in the alfresco.war file. This is not an overnight operation, since every single files header needs to change to reflect the new license. Thus the license officially will change with the Alfresco 3.3 Community release in March. If you wish to consider alfresco.war today as LGPL, you may do so. If you are an enterprise customer, then this won't affect you. You still have a full commercial license from Alfresco and have the full freedom of those terms. [...]