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The Myth of "Free Open Source Portals"

Company Blogs 25 de Agosto de 2011 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

Paul Hinz forwarded us an old whitepaper and presentation from IBM back in 2009 that sought to debunk the "myth of free open source portals." The main idea was that open source portals might save you money on licensing but the savings would be outweighed by extra costs in development, upgrades and maintenance. 

Just for fun I did a little research to see whether Liferay expertise is more expensive than, say, Websphere Portal knowledge. And it turns out that it is! ... by about 5%, according to Indeed.com


Of course, that extra $6,000 per head could add up. But that 5% is probably statistically insignificant given the fluctuations of these salaries over time: 


It's definitely good to see that on the whole, Liferay knowledge is increasingly valuable in the marketplace as more companies realize they can achieve greater business agility and better solutions using the Liferay platform. For our community, that's a confirmation that the investment you're making in open source will be rewarded financially.  

But hopefully the motivation for working with Liferay goes beyond the numbers. The very popular TED talk by Dan Pink about motivation listed three main factors leading to better performance and satisfaction: 

  1. Autonomy
  2. Mastery
  3. Purpose

While I'm sure you can find these working with any technology, I think Liferay and open source are uniquely suited to maximize them: 

  1. Autonomy: the freedom of open source gives you a lot of control over the technology you use. You can modify the code and make contributions that affect the direction of the software. Proprietary vendors don't give you the same degree of flexibility. 
  2. Mastery: technology that's open can be explored in greater depth than closed technology. Mastery of closed technologies is limited to the use of it; with open source, you can truly understand the software inside and out. This is not to say that you have to do this to effectively use open source software, only that the option is there. 
  3. Purpose: the mutually beneficial nature of open source is further motivation for people who work with it. They sense that there's a greater purpose to the investment being made in the software than just an employer's business goals or the profit of the vendor. And with Liferay in particular, we have the added dimension of our vision to use business and technology to make a positive impact on the world. 


Getting back to the main question, though: are "free open source portals" a myth? Definitely! Technology is never free even if the license cost is free. An investment in Liferay is an investment of resources, including time, development budget, and blood sweat and tears. We would be among the first to agree that open source != free: we've built a business around it. 

However, I would argue that open source software results in a more efficient application of resources overall than proprietary software:

  • License budget is freed up for customization or integration
  • Development and innovation are shared and re-used
  • Improvements are made more quickly in a community of users
  • Bugs and security issues are discovered more quickly when source is accessible
  • Developer resources over time are more abundant because access to the technology is freely available, thereby driving costs down to a healthy market equilibrium

Further, Liferay is particularly effective in delivering greater return on assets because we are so widely deployable:

  • Existing investments in content management systems, ERPs, databases, OSes, and application servers can be retained; Liferay runs on all major platforms and integrates well with third party applications
  • All the attendant expertise around these technologies are retained as well


What about the allegations that open source costs more to deploy, customize, upgrade and maintain? Here's where the presenters do a little voodoo. By speaking generally about all open source, they are able to call to mind the weaknesses of community supported, non-commercial open source (think Apache projects, for example) and associate them mentally with commercial open source, which is managed, focused, offers specific support SLAs, and has recommended best practices for maintainability. 

If you have a random developer without Liferay knowledge go in and hack up Liferay code and produce a customized solution, you will definitely have problems with upgrades and maintenance. Proprietary vendors prevent this a priori by disallowing access to the source code. But rather than taking that restrictive approach, Liferay supports customization architecturally with our Plug-Ins SDK and through best practices, which can be followed by any developer. 


So the risk with open source is not that it inherently takes longer or is more expensive to deploy, but that the power granted to the developer will be used incorrectly. It's a problem of due diligence: open source requires you to do a little more homework when choosing your developers or system integrators.

In any case, I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but perhaps this can be some ammunition for you when you are trying to convince your boss why they shouldn't believe IBM's FUD. :)

France Symposium 2011 Recap

Company Blogs 8 de Julho de 2011 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

June 15th was our first-ever Liferay France Symposium held in Paris. We had a healthy turnout of over 100 community members, customers, and partners, who came together to learn about what's new in Liferay 6.1, hear customer case studies, and get connected with each other. 
 

Juan Fernandez presents en français at the Liferay France Symposium 2011.

 

We wanted to make the event especially relevant for our local community, so two of our leading engineers, Ray Augé and Juan Fernandez, gave their presentations in French. We also had great case studies from Barclay's and the French Ministry of Defense, who are both using Liferay for partner portals with further plans to expand their usage for other applications. Apologies to those of you who didn't understand the presentations! Our EU Symposium in Frankfurt in October will have all content in English. :) 
 

 

Liferay-based partner portals from Barclay's France and the French Ministry of Defense.

 

We met a lot of great people, including a couple of members from our Community Advisory Board, Boubker Tagnaouti and Yousri Bendiabdallah. I also got to catch up with our partners and customers. We had many interesting conversations about how switching from Websphere or other proprietary portals was challenging (due to conservative corporate environments) but ultimately generated dramatic increases in productivity and reductions in operating costs. Many of our customers have advocated for Liferay against the odds and have been proven wise in their decision. 
 

One of the networking breaks at the event. 

 

People were also very excited to hear about our upcoming Marketplace, which will give them a place to showcase the plug-ins and extensions they're already built for the Liferay platform. After a full day of sessions, we closed the event with a casual mixer along the Seine in front of the Eiffel Tower. 

Special thanks to our partner sponsors of the event: Altendis, Alyotech, GFI, Ippon, Smile, and SQLi! And if you want more in-depth coverage of the content (in French), check out these blogs from one of the attendees: 

We are planning to have another event next year so stay tuned for more details!

Liferay.com: Now Running Liferay 6!

Company Blogs 17 de Maio de 2011 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

I am happy to announce that Liferay.com is now running on Liferay Portal 6 EE. The re-fresh is a minor one with respect to content but a major infrastructural upgrade that will pave the way for future enhancements to the site, including leveraging workflow for our web publishing and community interaction, and the introduction of social equity for our community participation. 

As for the changes you can see, here is a summary: 

Liferay Projects Pages
With all the open source projects we've incubated in the company over the last couple of years, we decided it was finally time to give them a home. Liferay's new Projects Pages puts faces to the names behind these efforts and will be the best place to look for new information and updates. Check it out!

Updated Community Pages
Also as part of our project page refresh, we've re-organized the forums to have a top-level category for each project. These will break down further by language as each project grows. Of course, Portal is still the heavyweight here. :) 

​New Events Pages
With the rapid growth of our community and partner network, Liferay is the topic of conversation in a growing number of places! We re-designed the events pages to make it easier than ever to meet in person with other Liferay enthusiasts. Now we have a single events list that shows all upcoming events regardless of type in a single view. We also made it easier to filter the list with several different parameters including geography. 

Mobile Device Friendly Layouts
The update with the biggest WOW factor has to be the new layouts that adjust to the detected width of your browser. Liferay wants its site to be accessible by people on the go, but we didn't want to have to invest too heavily in a single platform's proprietary aspects since there are so many great ones out there to support. So we took a standards-based approach, and using just HTML5 and CSS, re-designed the site so that each device's browsable area will be accommodated. Here are three different views for desktop, tablet, and smartphone: 

Desktop view. This has all the content on the home page.

 

Tablet view (iPad portrait mode). The difference is subtle but the banner image has been resized and
the entire right column of content (Gartner MQ, France Symposium Mini-Banner) has been removed.

 

    

Smartphone view (iPhone portrait mode). Navigation is now phone-friendly and
the most essential information is shown first; graphics are reduced for bandwidth. 

 

Of course you can try it yourself—just resize your browser window now and see what happens! 

Revamped Customer Portal
EE customers will notice a new layout for the Customer Portal home page. We got rid of the introductory fluff and provided links to the most often accessed content to make the whole site easier to navigate. 

Miscellaneous: Pingbacks
Pingbacks on blogs are now enabled, so when someone refers to your Liferay.com blog from the web, you should automatically get a comment on that entry (testing this out on Olaf's latest blog). 

Miscellaneous: Updated HTML Editors
The HTML Editors used in Liferay 6 should perform better and be easier to use than the previous versions. 

 

Oui, Nous Mangeons Notre Nourriture Pour Chiens
Yes, we eat our own dog food here at Liferay. :) But the reason we find it so tasty is because it meets so many of our business needs: 

  • Rich Web content management capabilities. We serve hundreds of pages on Liferay.com and support multiple editors working in the same system. LIferay's integrated portal + WCM foundation makes this easy. 
  • Multi-lingual support. We have community members around the world and do our best to support them in their language.
  • Collaboration and Community. Obviously Liferay's community is an important part of our business and we want to support interaction through Blogs, MBs, Wikis, Activity Tracking, Profiles, Relationships and meta-data (tagging, comments, ratings). 
  • Multi-site Management. Liferay.com users can access our public website, employee portal, customer portal, and personal user profile all in one place. Our site administrators are thankful that they don't have to deal with several different deployments.
  • Personalization. Each user should have his own view of portal assets across various sites, from the website to their support entitlements and license key management. 
  • Workflow and Customization. We also use Liferay for a lot of our marketing initiatives. We try to understand what kind of content people are looking for and help them get connected to the right collateral. We also follow up with people when there's new information available that might interest them.   
  • Integration with Salesforce and Other Enterprise Systems. Of course a portal isn't a portal without some EAI thrown in and we have plenty of needs in that area. 

Many of these areas saw vast improvements in Liferay 6 and we we will be taking advantage of them with this new launch. We hope you enjoy it too and definitely let us know if you come across any issues or have suggestions for further improvements! 

James Gosling's Thoughts on Java

Company Blogs 13 de Abril de 2011 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

I just got back from our first Liferay Roadshow in Amsterdam yesterday and gave a talk about how identity and interactions are changing due to paradigm shifts in technology and corporate culture. I'll post about that some other time, but I did talk to someone considering Liferay for a business application and they asked the inevitable "what's the future of Java?" question. 

I told him that I don't think Oracle will sabotage Java because almost 100% of their business relies on it. Then I recalled an email I had in my inbox about James Gosling's keynote at the Server Side conference recently. 

Mr. Gosling's way of expressing the sentiment: "No clue what Larry (Ellison) will do. But he won't shoot himself. I hope."

In the talk, he explained, "It's in their own self-interest to not be really aggressively stupid, but it's been clear that it's been something of a learning experience. It's been clear that they didn’t understand what they bought, what it meant to deal with communities and people and all the arguing and discussion and consensus building that’s involved in communities."

What I find most interesting about his comments is his acknowledgement of the nuances of an inclusive, eco-system-based business model, one that the machinery of the Oracle corporation isn't as suited to accommodate. Of course that to me is an indication of the divide between modern and post-modern approaches to business and the fundamental shifts going on (with Oracle one of the best representatives of the modern and Sun a failed attempt at the post-m) but there's no time to get into all that nonsense. :) 

Anyway, here's the rest of the article, which is a light and informative read. 

A Brief History of Social

Company Blogs 10 de Março de 2011 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

"Rather than boring your customers to death, there is a clear opportunity to put the dull corporate website to rest. Then resurrect it as a platform for true community engagement that functions as a hub for interaction with all customers and stakeholders."

Sounds good in theory, but how does it work in practice? But first, let's consider how we got here in the first place.

It's not surprising to hear social paradigms for web interaction being validated by an established publication like Forbes because we've been living in that reality for almost a decade now. 

But it's easy to forget, when you're in the software industry and especially when your software is used in social applications, that not everyone has switched to this more human, more relational paradigm. 

The focus on social these days among enterprise software vendors can be seen as a bit redundant because the internet was designed to be interactive from the beginning. The very nature of the web, with embeddable links taking you a thousand places and bringing you back again, was fundamentally different from any offline counterparts; here was something you couldn't do before you could do it "online." Add to that the fact that the internet has near-zero "publishing" costs (just edit some HTML or submit a form and hit "refresh") and that it's location independent (participants can be anywhere in the world) and you have the foundations for today's social experiences. 

This was the closest thing we had to the internet before the internet. 

When the internet first hit the mainstream back in the mid- to late-90s, existing paradigms for communication, publishing, and media were carried on to the web as is: people took their static company brochure online (these were even called "Brochure Sites"), or they would put what was essentially a mail order catalog on the web with electronic checkout, and they would yell at their audiences on virtual billboards with the same one size fits all advertising they used offline. If enterprise software is just now getting social, perhaps it's because until now we've been using the internet as just another thin client in what are essentially rehashes of client/server software. 

eTide.com would have been funded with a $10M Series A back then.

But in the public, people quickly realized that the web was interesting because it allowed the audience to participate, and though at first we mimicked the first wave of activity (remember Geocities? we all made brochure sites of our lives), eventually we found our way into the interactive.  We called this (perhaps briefly) Web 2.0, which was a catch-all for the interactive, consumer as producer/participant philosophy of the "new" web. 

The vanguard of Web 2.0 were sites like Flickr and Wikipedia and YouTube. Social bookmarks (Delicious and Digg) were thrown in there, too. These sites provided a framework for Viewers Like You to contribute; in fact the Big 3 of the early social web experiences are notable for what they don't provide: any meaningful content of their own. YouTube and Flickr are structures in which people publish and interact with content, the consumption of which is just a portion of what they do, albeit still the most significant one.

Of course there are sites that added social elements to enhance or come alongside established paradigms. Amazon in particular successfully transformed the shopping experience in a way only made possibly by the Internet by adding active interaction and (perhaps dubiously) tracking passive user behavior.

I'd like what he's having, please.

I was recently shopping for headphones and started leaning toward the Grado GR80's because 15% of people who looked at the GR60's decided to shell out for the pricier model, whereas only 7% went the other. This is buying criteria you can't get at Best Buy. In fact, the closest thing Best Buy has to the Amazon experience is the salesperson telling you, "Ah, get this model—it's the one everyone gets, and I've got two at home," which smacks of sales pitch and leaves you with that sick feeling you get when you're being sold to. At the same time, your social instinct wants to go with the herd; the entire transaction leaves you feeling vulnerable either way.

By contrast, Amazon, with its behavior data, not only satisfies your need for peer approval but does it with precise metrics that leave no doubt in your mind about the choice you're about to make. You're no longer a hapless consumer without information; you're making a smart decision armed with both objective facts and social considerations. Amazon wins, not only on price, but increasingly on the shopping "experience." 

99% of lemmings who approached this cliff jumped in the water.

It seems now the slightly geeky "Web 2.0" label has ceded to the more universal (and incidentally not copyrightable) label of "social," which also captures the essence of what we're talking about. The old paradigms were one way: producer to consumer, media to audience, seller to buyer. But no one who approaches relationships this way will ever get very far; being "social" necessitates the give and take of conversation, and it requires really "listening" above all else. 

That's why I'm not sure what to think about those who use Twitter as another soapbox for company propaganda; Twitter was designed to be personal and real. We've tried to keep it that way here at Liferay, so much so that we realized the best way was for the company Twitter to re-Tweet individual Tweets from our team. Zappos' CEO has a fun Twitter feed that probably is a manifestation of his personal pre-occupation with the pursuit of happiness.

                  

Tweetray: Complete with Web 2.0-ish bubbly icon.

Facebook Groups are the same way; I was amused to see a hotel I recently stayed at offer an entry in a drawing for people who "liked" them on Facebook. This is the anithesis of social media; people should "Like" your company because they are inherently enchanted by doing business with you, enjoy relating to your people, or savour the experiences they have with you. The contrived approach to generating Facebook Likes seems self-defeating and inauthentic; is it better to have big parties because you offer free food and drinks, or to have intimate gatherings where you know who your real friends are? Likewise, being "popular" on Facebook can just dilute the quality of your audience. It's easier to have a real, fruitful relationship with that core group of people who would have "Liked" you regardless of your giveaway.*

As a case in point, Southwest Airlines has 1.3 million Facebook Likes to American's 130,000 and United's 244,000; is that due to a more clever social marketing campaign or because people are genuinely enthusiastic for the company? I don't know, but I suspect SWA has a good amount of genuine goodwill mixed in there, simply because they've allowed themselves to have a personality as a company throughout the years. 

 

"I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby's house I was one of the few guests
who had actually been invited. People were not invited--they went there."

So, back to the Forbes blog. I think the challenge for those of us who have been making their websites "platforms for true community engagement" for some time now is not making that decision to kill the old corporate website, but rather what I would call the inherent limitations of internet-based social interactions.

In real life, we only have a limited amount of energy and time with which to interact with people. We signal these limits in many ways that can't be replicated online: we use physical distance, either by standing aloof from others at a party or by getting out of sight completely (staying home, for instance); we use non-verbal cues like facial expressions and the way we stand to express interest or dis-interest; we lessen the sting of moving on to a new conversation with a light tap on the shoulder or a squeeze of the arm and an apologetic smile. 

On the internet, we have both more and less control of social interactions. We can choose to ignore our Facebook notifications or pretend to go "Offline," but the transactional nature of web communication creates expectations that eventually, each social request deserves a response.

Unlike in the offline world, social interactions can be cued up indefinitely; you don't need to finesse your way into a conversation, and you can't gracefully avoid them. We have a greater chance of being "accosted" in the online social world. We can't mete out our attention to the most deserving among our peers; everyone has equal access to first.last@company.com or @username. We've developed elaborate ways to try to make up for these limitations by adding depth to the very shallow relational designations of the online world, but it's taxing to re-create what in real life occurs naturally and intrinsically. 

Likewise, for a company, the question is not whether to "go social"; it's how not to get burnt out by the flood of people wanting to be your "friends." Companies need to focus their collective resources strategically and make sure they rise above the "small talk" to the conversations of real substance. Online social interactions require less investment of time and energy; people can easily fire off an email or post to a forum. Companies need to quantify how invested these people are in your company, their level of interest in your products or services, and their readiness to engage in a significant relationship (one that's monetizable, as crude as that sounds). It doesn't have to result in dollars, especially in open source, but you want to spend your time on the people that are going to bring value to the company eco-system over time—through constructive feedback, identifying marketing needs, product testing, building awareness, and so on.

How to do that most effectively is one of the key challenges of "socializing" your organization. 

-----

*Liferay itself has considered offering training discounts to people who Like our Facebook. I think in principle it misses the point of social media, but we're all grappling with what to do with Facebook, aren't we? 

Open Source Conference 2010

Company Blogs 1 de Dezembro de 2010 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

Liferay had the chance to be a platinum sponsor at the Open Source Conference 2010, organized by Red Hat and Accenture. At almost 450 attendees, it was the Benelux region's largest-ever OSS focused conference. When I asked for a show of hands, most folks in the audience said they felt more comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt, so I'm assuming that we had a strong showing of technical folks. 
 

OSC2010 was held at the amazing Muziekgebouw, part of an urban redevelopment effort completed in 2004 that has helped restore this riverfront area to its historical vitality and importance to civic life.  

 

The general sense we got (and this was confirmed by others) was that open source awareness and understanding in the Netherlands is behind that in France and Germany. Many of the sessions seemed to cover topics and ideas that are now well known even for those not actively using open source: open source provides more agility, the chance to evaluate software without upfront investment, control over one's IT initiatives, better value for the cost, more secure software of higher quality than proprietary offerings. 
 

Liferay was a platinum sponsor at the event, giving us a great booth on the mezzanine with a view of the river and the main train station near the historic center. 


Tomas Nyström, an Accenture Senior Director heading up their open source practice, notably presented some new research findings from an open source survey they conducted earlier this year. The largest trends are that the driver for open source adoption is no longer primarily cost savings; respondents are turning to open source because OSS provider higher quality and more reliable software that better meets their needs and gets their solutions to market more quickly. You can find related research here and here
 


New research from Accenture shows varying motivations for using open source—not primarily cost.


I also had a chance to deliver one of the plenary sessions and shared about the innovator's dilemma for new software companies. I'll expound on this later, but the basic idea is that often companies that want to compete with the established vendors do so by taking investment capital, only to find themselves being acquired by those very vendors. So innovation seems to have a life span of 5-7 years at most growing software companies. By contrast, at Liferay, we've built the company without taking outside investment and this allows us to make decisions that strike the right balance between keeping our company healthy, satisfying our customers, and creating value for the community. This is a huge advantage for people who decide to invest their time, resources, and energy into Liferay technology, because they know we're going to be around for the long haul. 
 


Acquisition is unfortunately the fate for a lot of innovative software companies.
 

I also shared my slot with one of our customers, the Open University of the Netherlands. My co-speaker, Eric Kluijfhout, has over ten years of experience bringing his ICT experience to bear on educational institutions and their initiatives around collaborative learning and online course delivery. Eric and has team have been using Liferay at Open University for the last several years, where it has served as an application platform, enabling OU to rapidly prototype solutions and deliver results for various initiatives around collaborative education. Their Liferay-based application have provided a solution for 14 EU partners in 9 different countries and is being extended to new initiatives in the region. 
 

Liferay Portal helps OU meet their complex requirements around self-organizing learning networks.

 

All in all it was a successful conference and we were able to hang out with some of our existing customers and some new prospects. We got some positive feedback on Twitter which I'm including here. (I hope it's not too self-congratulatory!)

 

jan_stap Weer thuis na goed Italiaans maal. Interessante dag#osc2010; highlights verhalen Red Hat, Accenture en Liferay. Organisatie bedankt!

holstray Interessant verhaal van de oprichter vanLIFERAY #osc2010

SafPlusPlus #liferay 's Bryan Cheung's talk is the most engaging one yet at #osc2010

hrmelle #OpenU, de Open Universiteit ontwikkelt Open Education met #Liferay, studeren aan OU is entree in complete educatieve wereld #osc2010

anadrome Open Source conference 2010 #osc2010 voor de derde keer, blij te zien dat Liferay hier in Nederland sponsor is!

appelboor Hi @bryan_ I had no idea what#liferay was, but I liked your presentation yesterday!#osc2010

Liferay Update: Growth in Europe

Company Blogs 29 de Novembro de 2010 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

 As some of you may know, Liferay decided earlier this year to make a strategic investment in growing the European market. To that end, Joseph Shum, our former Alliance Manager for North America, and myself have been traveling frequently to our offices in Frankfurt over the last six months. 

Liferay's first Italy Symposium. The venue was an
old church converted into a university lecture hall.

 

It's been a whirlwind for us, signing up new partners, meeting new customers, and organizing events throughout the EU. 

Here's a round up of some of the highlights from Europe: 

  • In April we moved to our new offices in Eschborn, next to the Deutsche Börse (German Stock Exchange), Deutsche Bank, Vodafone, British Telecom and others. And we're hiring!
  • In October we held our third annual Liferay European Symposium in Frankfurt. We had nine partner sponsors, over 300 attendees, and a full two-day, two-track program with participation from the Liferay team worldwide.
  • We held our first Liferay Italy Symposium Nov 12 near Venice, with over 150 sign ups and participation from several Liferay customers in Italy. Many universities in Italy are invested in Liferay as well as recognized brands like Benetton and Danone. 
  • We held our first Liferay Workshop in London in July 2010. The half day session brought over 50 participants, including Marcin Kierdelowicz, our new Alliance Manager for the UK. We also hired Ruth Coca, also based in London, as a Consultant. 
  • Our Hungarian and Spanish offices continue to grow. More office space, new furniture, and new engineers means better products for our eco-system and better support for our EE subscribers.  
  • We are seeing enormous traction for Liferay in this market, including manufacturing, financial services, insurance, education, and public administration. 
  • Liferay participated in the Open Source Conference in Amsterdam last week. Over 450 people in attendance learned about Liferay's commitment to open source and the advantages of being investor-free. 
  • Liferay participated as a Gold Sponsor at the JAX Conference in Mainz, where I was able to share in my keynote about the history of Liferay as a company and some of the lessons we've learned buidling a commercial open source company. 

Of course during that same time we held several other conferences worldwide, including our East Coast Symposium in Reston near DC in June and our West Coast Symposium in Anaheim in September. We also had our first Tokyo Seminar in July. 

This year's European Symposium drew over 300 attendees!

 

Meanwhile, Paul Hinz, our CMO, and our marketing and sales teams have been hitting the road with our Liferay Road Show series, giving our community the opportunity to meet Liferay face to face throughout the US. We'll be holding these events throughout the year in 2011 and extending them to the EU as well. 

And if you just can't make it out to one of these events, you can always join Liferay for our Liferay LIVE events online!

The Future of Liferay? Stronger than Ever

Company Blogs 6 de Maio de 2010 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

It's been an incredibly busy first half of 2010 and I haven't had as much time to blog as I'd like to. With new offices in Budapest and Brazil, rapid sales growth and rapid product releases, there's always too much to do and not enough time to communicate! 

When you're always in the midst of all things Liferay you don't realize that the perception from the outside is not always clear. For example, earlier this year, with the final approval of Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems, some people were misinformed about the future of Liferay because they were under the impression that Liferay had been acquired by Sun or had been dependent on Sun for its product development.

So for the record, I would like to state simply that Liferay was not part of the acquisition of Sun by Oracle. Liferay has always been and continues to be an independent company, completely self-funded and privately owned. In our prior partnership with Sun, Sun basically had an agreement to use Liferay Portal for the re-branded WebSpace server, but Liferay was never dependent in any way on Sun for engineering or product development. 

Liferay's relationship to the Sun acquisition. 

 

This is important for our community and customers to understand, of course, as you all continue to invest in the Liferay platform. You want to know that your investment is going to be secure for many years to come, and you can rest assured that that is the case. Liferay is now the only major independent portal vendor on the market (all the others are part of a big vendor's stack agenda), and we are one of the most compelling enterprise platforms for building applications around social collaboration, content management and enterprise portal technologies.

It's also important to us because we continue to be very committed to our vision to make an impact in the world through business and technology. Liferay Foundation, a non-profit organization that is at the center of this effort, is funded primarily by taking a portion of the profits from Liferay, Inc. Using money for charitable contributions and innovative technology to help developing countries is not exactly top of mind for the Oracle shareholders. :)  

That said, we are happy to continue to work with any company out there that wants to innovate new technologies and business models around open source software, and of course Liferay is committed to its compatibility with Oracle's suite of database and middleware solutions. 

So, what to do if you're a customer that was using Sun's WebSpace server, WebSynergy, or are confused about which Oracle product to use? Give us a call or contact us to learn more about Liferay and what we can do for you. 

Liferay Adopting the LGPL License

Company Blogs 26 de Fevereiro de 2010 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

I would like to announce that starting with version 6, Liferay Portal will be made available under the Lesser GNU Public License (LGPL) v2.1. 

The short history of commercial open source software vendors is littered with examples of vendors promising why these license changes made time-to-time are of benefit to the so-called “community” whereas the real motive is often to accommodate the vendor’s shifting monetization strategy. It would be reasonable then for you, the Liferay community, to be skeptical, were we to go down that familiar path of trying to justify something which may or may not really be for the community’s benefit. 
 
So instead, let me explain what the different pros and cons are of the MIT and LGPL licenses, why the LGPL will benefit both Liferay and its community members, and where the license change fits in Liferay’s larger strategy to enable our community to build better business solutions that benefit end users using Liferay Portal.
 
The MIT (X11) License
Liferay has now been available under the MIT license for ten years. That’s an impressive history and we have a fondness for this license for its simplicity and its bold permissiveness. Brian Chan first chose the license because of the prestige of its namesake (though I argue we should have chosen the BSD instead for that reason!) and because it added the lowest number or words to the source. :)
 
Over the years we’ve enjoyed the benefits of the MIT license: 
 
  • It’s a permissive license that unlike the Apache (1.2) license is compatible with the GPL (v2 and 3)
  • It completely mitigates any risk for prospective adopters of the software
  • Anyone can do anything with MIT-licensed software, creating a proliferation of the technology and a wide footprint for that software. People are wiling to invest heavily in innovating around MIT-licensed software
Ultimately, our comfort with the MIT license lay in our confidence that in open source it’s not the IP that matters as much as the experts behind that IP, and this continues to be the case today. No one can innovate around user experience, portal, and collaborative technologies in Liferay as well as Liferay, Inc., can, and the community has always returned to the source for the latest in Liferay technology. 
 
The Trust-based Model Has Drawbacks
At Liferay we also have a certain optimism about open source and those who believe in the open source philosophy. We believe that by extending the most freedom to Liferay users, they will extend their best to us and contribute to an ever richer platform with more and more capabilities. 
 
On the whole, the ubiquitous adoption of the Liferay platform is good for the community because it gives Liferay credibility. The Liferay you are an expert in is the same Liferay chosen by so many high-profile technology vendors (including Novell and Sun) to be a very important part of their technology portfolio. We’ve definitely benefited from that publicity. 
 
The downside of the permissive MIT license was that some companies (usually looking to sell a proprietary product) would redistribute Liferay without any monetary compensation to Liferay the company and without any contribution of features, fixes, or enhancements to the wider Liferay community. So not only are these vendors not giving to Liferay and its community, they are forcing others to pay them for a product that is 90% Liferay. If you are a community member, this is irksome because you’ve invested in that 90% that they are using without compensation. If you are Liferay, Inc., you suffer the double injustice of not counting the vendor as a customer AND possibly losing some other customers to this vendor. 
 
Licenses and Business Models
To a degree, Liferay was comfortable with the tradeoff of permissiveness for the occasional lost prospect who decided to go it alone, but there were other side effects that would not fit with the future direction of the company. EE has been doing very well since its introduction last year, but we’ve known for some time that we want to expand Liferay’s impact in the software industry by accelerating its adoption as an enterprise application platform. 
 
Several of the things needed for Liferay to be an effective platform are already in place: 
 
  • Ubiquity and compatibility across a breadth of infrastructure and technologies. This has been one of our core strengths since Liferay’s inception; vendor neutrality and technology independence are hallmarks of the Liferay brand.
  • A plug-in architecture that can accommodate extensions and modifications. Liferay’s plug-in architecture has been evolving rapidly in the last two years and is now powerful enough to accommodate any customization or extension that might traditionally accomplished through direct modification of the code. 
  • A developer community. Liferay’s open source community has always been strong, and we’ve used Liferay’s own social networking capabilities to create a home for our developers on Liferay.com. We will continue to improve the Liferay.com community sub-site so they can truly collaborate, learn, develop their profile, and share their work.
  • Improved tooling and APIs to empower developers. Liferay’s collaboration with Sun yielded the very helpful Portal Pack for NetBeans, and Liferay recently hired Greg Amerson, lead developer from MyEclipse, to build further tooling for the Liferay platform. We are also investing heavily in our new Alloy UI framework, which will greatly simplify the user experience portions of web and enterprise application development. 
 
The last piece of the puzzle to bring this all together is a marketplace where the Liferay community and Liferay solution partners can market and sell their solutions to the Liferay eco-system, and the inception of the marketplace is one of our top goals for 2010. As we thought about the requirements for this marketplace in 2009, we saw an interesting drama playing out in the mobile market between Google’s Android and the Apple iPhone. Google had chosen a permissive Apache license for their OS, which led to a fractured market and constrained Google’s ability to foster a healthy marketplace for Android applications. Apple, by contrast, had retained tight control over the iPhone and the App Store and, combined with a healthy lead in the space, dominated with more than 100,000 apps to Android’s 20,000. 
 
We realized that something similar was happening to Liferay. People were definitely building solutions (applications) “for" Liferay, but they were doing it in a way that would fracture the install base. Rather than building solutions compatible with a single common platform by properly isolating new code in a pluggable and segregated form, vendors were taking Liferay and modifying it directly to create slightly different products. Left unchecked, this had potential of becoming even more of a liability to Liferay than lost revenue, because a fractured install base would constrain the value and potential of the marketplace of complementary offerings. With the MIT license, we were in essence trading the “true” ubiquity of a tightly controlled core platform for a “false” ubiquity with many variants.
 
If Liferay were serious about engendering a marketplace of complementary monetizable products for a single consistent platform, we would have to consider a different license.
 
The LGPL
Liferay believes that the LGPL will provide the best benefits of the MIT license and the best protection against MIT’s limitations without any legitimate detriment to the community. It will secure the consistency of the core Liferay platform and broaden the reach of that single platform so that Liferay and its community members can build and monetize solutions for that platform.
 
The change from MIT to LGPL will alienate that small set of users that wish to be able to freely modify Liferay’s core and re-distribute without making any contribution (financial or source code) back to Liferay, Inc. and its community. And this is by design, for it is precisely these folks who might fracture Liferay’s install base and constrain our marketplace potential.
 
Every other constituency of the Liferay community will see even more benefits with the new license. The LGPL will refine the Liferay community to those who are willing to participate in the creation of a common stable platform for the benefit of all. Those on the fringes who would only use Liferay to their own benefit will be excluded, but some of those who would not otherwise have done so will now decide to make contributions. Most importantly, the addressable market for Liferay plugins and solutions will grow in size and value because of the single common platform enforced by use of the LGPL.
 
With the LGPL, Liferay will also be freer than ever to err on the side of being generous with the core platform’s capabilities, knowing that our efforts and the community’s are protected and that our indirect monetization opportunities are growing with the widening adoption of Liferay.
 
Continued Freedom to Innovate
It is important to point out that the terms of the LGPL allow users to modify LGPL-licensed software for their own internal use without redistribution. But even if this were not the case, the major architectural advancements Liferay has made over the last 18 months would still give our community maximum freedom without obligation to use Liferay Portal CE to build solutions based off the LGPL-licensed core. The powerful hooks mechanism introduced last year can be used to modify Liferay behavior without modifying the core.  In fact, even Liferay’s EXT environment, which allows modification of the behavior of Liferay’s kernel, services, and UI, is now deployable as a plug-in, which in LGPL terms (as long as you follow best practices) will be considered a linked piece of software and therefore not subject to the reciprocity rules of the LGPL. 
 
It is regrettable that in the past some chose to take Liferay and “hack" the source without contributing back, but some of them did so at a time when hooks and plug-ins were not mature yet as a technology. But with the new architectural developments there should now be no reason not to choose to invest in a common core (and improve it with contributions), even as people build strikingly different solutions. This will be a matter of architectural and community best practices, and the LGPL complements these practices well. 
 
The Liferay Platform: A Marketplace of Solutions
As we continue to strengthen the quality and capability of the Liferay Portal core we are calling our community to the vision we put forth in 2009 at our global Symposia: let’s build effective business solutions that solve real problems for end users, and let’s make them available to all through open source and commercial models to create maximum value for all. Liferay has built a strong and valuable platform with the services and capabilities you need—portals, content (management and aggregation), collaboration, workflow, reporting, social networking, and a user experience framework are just a few of those. Our community will use that platform to create the next-generation of web-based enterprise applications that they can bring to a broader audience facilitated by the Liferay marketplace. 
 
We are very excited about this change and look forward to journeying with you all for another 10 years building great open source software together. If any of you have any concerns or questions please don’t hesitate to ask.  
 

 

Oracle Quietly Discontinues OpenSSO, Picked up by ForgeRock

Company Blogs 24 de Fevereiro de 2010 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

According to the H, Oracle has quietly discontinued OpenSSO Express, the community version of OpenSSO previously made available by Sun. It'd be sensationalistic to make any wide-sweeping generalizations about Oracle's approach to open source from a single incident, but one thing clearly illustrated is that open source software uniquely mitigates risks for its users. Had OpenSSO been proprietary software, the acquisition of Sun could have left OpenSSO completely inaccessible forever, destroying the value of any investment made into the technology. But with access to the source, a new organization (ForgeRock in this case) can come in and continue where Sun left off. 

Good luck to Lasse and the ForgeRock team and kudos for delivering on the promise of open source. 

Looking back at 2009

Company Blogs 11 de Fevereiro de 2010 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

Hello to everyone in the Liferay community and a belated Happy New Year. I trust January has been filled with new opportunities and renewed energy for all of us after the holiday break.

I've gotten in the habit of writing an annual year-in-review entry but am a little behind on 2009. So many good things are happening here at Liferay that it's hard to keep up! We recently put out a press release highlighting our successes in 2009: 

  • 80% Growth in number of customers
  • Over 50% revenue growth
  • 3 million+ downloads
  • More than 60 partners worldwide 

These are all exciting figures but they only tell part of the story. 2009 was a significant year for Liferay Inc. in many other ways. First, 2009 was a year where we all felt a lot of concern about the economy and what the recession might mean for our business. By the end of first quarter of 2009 we were at least six months in to the crisis, but we had no visible signs of being affected. Business was up and people were responding well to our new Enterprise Edition. But our management team always strives to be fiscally prudent and to proactively manage spending, burn, and cash flow. So around March 2009 we wondered whether we needed to take any drastic measures in anticipation of a possible downturn in business. 

We found blogs citing the kind of advice premier VCs like Benchmark and Sequoia had been giving their portfolio companies since October 2008: 


We considered the Zappos
model for conserving capital.

  • Conserve capital
  • Extend your runway
  • Don't expect to be able to depend on getting additional rounds of financing
  • Get profitable as quickly as possible
  • Minimize expenses like real estate (don't expand until you're literally sitting on top of each other)

Upon reflection, though, the truth was we had already been running our business this way for the past five years: 

  • Liferay has been a profitable company since inception
  • We've always conserved capital and minimized expenses to ensure we had enough cash to stay in business. We used a "just-in-time" hiring model in the early years and made sure we had enough revenue to pay for our people
  • We started out and continue to be self-funded and independent from investors that might force us to take decisions that aren't always best for our customers, the community, or our employees
  • We found a very affordable real estate solution that continues to serve us well to this day. When the office got crowded, rather than reducing people we shrunk our desks by 33% and increased capacity by 40% 

 We were quite humbled to think that as young entrepreneurs we had taken all the same steps that top tier investors with years of experience were recommending.

Enterprise Edition: Exceeding our Goals 

2009 was also significant as the first year we offered to the market a commercial version of our flagship product, Liferay Portal. We had seen several other open source vendors execute on similar models and it seemed to bring many benefits to all parties, but how would our community respond to this move? 

Very well, in fact; the Liferay community wholeheartedly embraced Enterprise Edition: 

  • They were happy to have a sustaining tail of older versions with a guaranteed four-year maintenance period and five-year End of Service Life Policy
  • They could now go to decision makers and show that adopting Liferay Portal in the enterprise would provide tremendous benefits in innovation, capability, and flexibility, without sacrificing stability or reliability
  • They wanted to see Liferay, Inc. continue to grow in its commercial success so we could continue to provide great free software to the community
  • Our service partners could now help Liferay grow subscription revenue through EE sales and benefit from additional services revenue passed on to them

We have since released two EE versions of Liferay Portal and our organizations is tuned for this new model.  

A Mature and Agile Organization

I was particularly delighted in 2009 to see how quickly our team here at Liferay executed on evolving the organization toward a subscription-based company with a dual-license model providing regular software updates and support. We set a goal in January of last year to build the machinery needed to drive sales of and support EE, grow a partner network to deliver solutions based on EE, and make the engineering investments in support, QA, performance testing, and environment testing to make EE a success, and by all counts we exceeded those goals. I am very proud to work with a team of talented, dedicated, and genuinely wonderful people here at Liferay. 

Ongoing Recognition

Our efforts have not gone unnoticed:

  • Gartner recognized Liferay as the leading visionary in their Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portal products in 2008 and 2009
  • Liferay also placed in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Social Software, 2008, and Social Software in the Workplace, 2009
  • SesameStreet.com, a rich media website built using Liferay's web content management system, won an Emmy award for New Approaches in Daytime Children's, recognizing Sesame's innovative use of Liferay's web capabilities. 

More importantly, our customers continue to share about the empowerment Liferay provides them in their enterprises, the innovative solutions they are building, and the tremendous benefits end users are experiencing with our software.

Other Highlights

Other memorable moments in 2009: 

  • Our management and engineering team traveled the globe in 2009 to meet with nearly 1000 of our community members, customers, and partners at four separate Symposium meetings in Reston (Washington DC), Anaheim (Los Angeles), Offenbach (Frankfurt) and Bangalore.
  • Paul Hinz, former head of Java EE and the Glassfish family of products, joined Liferay as our new Chief Marketing Officer. Paul successfully grew the Glassfish community (18 million downloads!) and drove the Glassfish Portfolio offering that included WebSpace, Sun's offering built on Liferay Portal. Paul was also the champion for Liferay and Sun's innovative open source community relationship.
  • Continued software and technology innovation at Liferay resulted in the release of Liferay Social Office 1.5 beta and ongoing work on Liferay Alloy UI, a new all-encompassing front-end framework based on YUI v3 that simplifies rich application development across HTML, CSS, and Javascript concerns. 

Introducing Liferay Foundation

I'll close by talking a little bit about Liferay Foundation. Those who have been part of the Liferay community for some time are probably aware that Liferay, Inc., has actively been involved over the years in supporting organizations that are helping in disaster situations or providing more long-term development aid in developing countries. To further maximize our impact, we formed the Liferay Foundation in 2009 as an organization dedicated to discovering the unique ways we can meet the needs we encounter in the world. Most recently, Liferay Foundation offered a matching donation to our community of up to $15,000 for those supporting the relief effort in Haiti. Longer term, we want to invest in efforts that are sustainable and empowering to make a long-term difference in addition to the one-time donations we have made in response to disasters. You'll hear a lot more about Liferay Foundation in the coming months, and you can certainly talk to us if you are interested in learning more. 

What's next?

There's a lot more in store for Liferay in 2010 and I'll look forward to sharing more with you in an upcoming blog! Until then, thank you to everyone who has contributed to making Liferay even stronger in 2009!

USAID and EducaMadrid using Liferay in Education

Company Blogs 27 de Janeiro de 2010 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

Robert Schware from the Global Learning Portal recently shared with us about a study tour of three different educational organizations to see how the Madrid School System's portal software has made an impact on their educational community and what organizations can do to embrace more open source. Here's a quick summary: 

"In partnership with USAID and AMIDEAST, the Global Learning Portal recently organized a Study Tour for Palestinian education stakeholders to Madrid, Spain to examine the role the EducaMadrid portal is playing in the education system there. Established by the Consejería de Educación de la Communidad de Madrid, and based on the same Liferay enterprise portal solution GLP uses, the EducaMadrid portal has been integrated into the education system for school and community outreach, professional development, and school physical capacity building within a public-private framework. It has been supported operationally by the Groupo Gesfor."

The EducaMadrid Learning Portal based on Liferay tailors its look and feel to the grade level of the student.

GLP uses Liferay for its core learning portal offering, serving multi-tenant and single-tenant, hosted and locally deployed solutions to organizations in Afghanistan, Africa, Brazil, the Philippines, South America and elsewhere.

 

Check out GLP's full blog here, or see the press release in Spanish or English.  

Liferay Linked Data Module

Company Blogs 7 de Dezembro de 2009 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

Another great example of the innovation that the Liferay community keeps contributing is the recently released Liferay Linked Data Module from IMC Technologies. Linked Data is an approach that lets you both publish and access data in a way that is semantically specified according to standard models, interoperable, cross-referenceable and remotely queryable. This way, you can not only tap on resources available on the web of data, such as DBpedia, but also make your own content available (and thus reusable and cross-referenceable). This makes for mashups that operate directly on the data level, removing the need for different proprietary APIs.
 
IMC calls this the Linked Data inbound/outbound approach, and here you can see a screenshot of a sample application developed to showcase the inbound approach, in which tag meanings are disambiguated by using DBpedia.
 
 
Main features:
  • Remote access to Liferay content via SPARQL
  • Supports mapping to the FOAF, SIOC and MOAT vocabularies
  • Performance optimization
  • Open source LGPL license
  • Comprehensive documentation

 

Flex+AIR portal container for Liferay

Company Blogs 18 de Novembro de 2009 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

The folks at Integrated Semantics have developed a Flex/AIR-based front-end for Liferay Portal. This is a great example of Liferay's flexibility when it comes to separating the presentation tier from the back-end services, standards implementations, APIs, and authentication / authorization capabilities. Gartner's portal decomposition ideas are at play here (portal server providing services to both portal and non-portal applications enterprise-wide), and we're also proud to see the strength of innovation going on in the Liferay community.

You can check out the details on the Flexible Liferay Google Code Repository, where they list some of the major features: 

  • Can display regular Liferay portlets (JSR-168, JSR-286, HTML/Ajax etc.)
  • All of Liferay backend, standards it supports can be leveraged
  • Can display Flex portlets (swfs) without html wrapper (no need for special handling of restarting when resize portlet) from within a portlet war
  • Leverage Liferay app catalog to also manage Flex portlets
  • Leverage Liferay security / authentication (ldap, sso, etc.) to also manage Flex portlets
  • Flex portlets can take advantage of AIR specific features (native desktop file drag / drop, native clipboard, local files, offline db)
  • Use Flex and ActionScript to develop new UI, java / groovy / grails for backend

Implementation

  • Uses BlazeDS to remote to some Java Apis added via Liferay Ext environment (used Liferay 5.2.3)
  • Built on top of the flexible-dashboard google code project (uses esria dashboard / devnet sample, flexmdi tiling/cascade)

Implemented

  • Sign in (Login dialog), Sign out
  • My Places menu
  • Display of tabs for pages in selected place
  • Display of a HTML pod with Liferay widget for each portlet in selected page

Symposium Round Up

Company Blogs 17 de Novembro de 2009 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

This is very late in coming, but I wanted to do a recap of our latest round of Symposiums that took place in September and October of 2009. 

Three events took place around the globe in Los Angeles, Frankfurt, and Bangalore in a span of just two weeks, with hundreds in attendance at each event. This was a landmark conference series for Liferay and we are very proud of our teams in the US, Germany, and India for putting them together.

As we shared at our events, our main goal for these events is to get in front of our community, meet them face to face and build relationships with the people who are using Liferay to innovate business solutions. Here are some of the highlights of the stories that were shared at the Symposiums: 

  • Monster Energy is a new dynamic website built on Liferay Portal with streaming video and custom marketing channels for independent musicians and athletes.
  • Sesame Street won an Emmy for its public website that relies on Liferay's Web Content Management System to deliver personalized and interactive games and videos to a growing audience of more than a million visitors per month. 
  • Product Partners runs teambeachbody.com on Liferay, powering a 1.3 million-member community of fitness enthusiasts that use live video conferencing to work out with buddies online.
  • T-Mobile Czech Republic built a new eBusiness portal on Liferay that gives customers improved self-service account management and commerce capabilities.
  • Yamaha Motor Solutions India delivered tremendous time-to-market and delivery cost benefits to its client, 2DegreesMobile, using Liferay Portal.
  • Liferay powers the NBA Stock Exchange, a highly scalable, revenue-generating fantasy basketball league
  • Digital Insight, a leading white-label online banking provider to the mid-market banking industry, uses Liferay in a flexible ASP model that allows it to provide personalized, independently branded online banking websites to each of its potential 1900 customers

 

We also had the chance to meet a number of our partners and community developers. People throughout the US, EU, India, and beyond are using Liferay in a number of different scenarios: 

  • One gentleman is starting a company around making clinical trials for new drug treatments more efficient using Liferay
  • Vaadin is integrating their rich user interface library with Liferay to make it even easier to bring Liferay-based RIAs to your desktop
  • The advanced research arm of a major auto manufacturer struggled with Websphere Portal for over a year; when they finally moved their employee portal to Liferay, they saw immediate productivity and return on investment
  • A software group in India uses Liferay as an integrated part of their workflow and BPM solution, with a full GUI workflow editor and portlet integration
  • A young group of Hungarians provides Liferay-related services and support to the European market from their startup in Budapest
  • The guys at Level Studios are doing phenomenal work on a number of Liferay-based web properties 


2009 European Symposium held at the Sheraton Offenbach Hotel

These case studies and community profiles show that Liferay has quickly evolved beyond being "just" a portal. Liferay has become the leading enterprise web platform for building solutions that combine portal, content, social collaboration, and enterprise integration technologies to uniquely address business challenges in today's enterprises. 

Our vision for the Liferay ecosystem continues to evolve, so stay tuned to this blog to find out more how we're working to maximize the mutual success of our customers, community members, and partners.

Liferay West Coast Symposium 2009: Amazing!

Company Blogs 25 de Setembro de 2009 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

We had a phenomenal turn out for this year's Liferay West Coast Symposium, our annual community and customer conference. Our North America marketing and events team, led by Cecilia Lam, put together a fantastic event filled with valuable business and technical insights, including performance tuning information, business case studies, customization training, and opportunities to meet and talk with the Liferay team. 

Amazing turnout for the Liferay West Coast Symposium 2009

 

Some significant milestones for this event: 

  • We enjoyed our first West Coast event away from headquarters, at the Marriott Suites in Anaheim
  • We had nearly 150 people in attendance at our first paid-for event in a tight economy
  • We presented five amazing customer solution stories (case studies), including presentations from Intuit Corporation, Sesame Workshop, Monster Energy Drinks, NBA Stock Exchange, and Product Partners

It's incredible to witness the rapid growth of Liferay as we enter our sixth year of business and our tenth year of product development. Over 2.5 million product downloads, a conservative estimate of 250,000 Liferay production deployments, 25,000 community members measured by website registration alone, and hundreds of enterprise customers makes Liferay the independent leader in open source portals, content, and collaboration software. 

Attendees had many opportunities to connect with the Liferay team.

 

We had a strong mix of longstanding Liferay users and new entrants to the Liferay eco-system, and I had a chance to meet several customers, partners, and community members, including: 

  • An entrepreneur forming a new startup using Liferay to create a solution for the health care industry
  • A community member that works in the research division of a leading auto manufacturer that gave up on Websphere Portal after struggling with it for a year and went to production on Liferay instead
  • A new Liferay implementation partner whose staff includes a committer to the Spring framework

What I proposed through my keynote address was confirmed in speaking with these community members: that Liferay is the best platform you can use to combine enterprise app integration, user management, UI & presentation, and content, collaboration, and social networking capabilities to build business solutions. There are so many different ways people are using Liferay, and more importantly, they're using Liferay to drive new revenue, reduce costs, and accelerate business processes. 

Nate Cavanaugh presenting the amazing new AlloyUI meta-framework.

 

Feedback from the Symposium was overwhelmingly positive: 

  • "All of us from [customer] enjoyed the opportunity to network with Liferay staff and learn how other companies use your product and what's on the horizon.  It was especially good for me to be able to finally put a face with a name of so many of you who I've interacted with over the past few years via phone and email." Liferay Retail customer

  • "Everyone was so helpful at the symposium.  We received helpful suggestions for a few showstoppers we encountered, and we are working on trying them out.  The face-to-face experience is a real time-saver.  You have a great team!" Liferay academic sector community member

  • "Thanks for a wonderful conference!  It was great to meet your team to such a great extent, great to see your thoughts, and upcoming system enhancements, and to see some of your users, and what they have done with Liferay.  We all had a fantastic time, and I myself learned a ton." Liferay higher education customer

  • "I didn’t get a chance to meet you and thank you for the great Liferay Symposium this past week in Anaheim.  The sessions were awesome and I’m especially interested to see how the marketplace plays out.  Thank you and the LR team!" Liferay higher education community member

  • "At #liferay WCS, a larger-than-expected turnout, a bunch of solid sessions on making best use of the portal." Ray Valdes, Gartner analyst, via Twitter

  • "Liferay Symposium 09—ridiculous value—tuning and approach. Demos were invaluable—5.3 features OFF THE CHARTS—run Oracle run" Chris Stavros, LEVEL Studios consultant and community member, via Twitter

There's a real, tangible excitement and passion that the Liferay community brings to these events. People love what Liferay can do to help them run their organizations more efficiently, connect people with each other, and unleash the latent value in their communities.

Thank you again to everyone who attended and worked together to make the West Coast Symposium an overwhelming success!

Renaming Standard Edition to Community Edition

Company Blogs 25 de Setembro de 2009 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

I want to take a moment to announce that we are going to start referring to the open source builds of Liferay Portal as "Community Edition." We originally introduced Liferay Portal Enterprise Edition at the beginning of this year to provide a new subscription offering to organizations that wanted the benefits of open source software but wanted continued service packs on older version of Liferay software. At the same time we wanted to let the community know that we were not "selling out" in any way—that the quality of our open source releases would remain high and that we would not be doing a "bait and switch" with our EE. 
 
For these reasons we had decided to name the community version "Standard Edition." However, in the last nine months of selling EE and explaining the difference between EE and SE, we've often found people ultimately saying, "Oh, so basically SE is your Community Edition?" 
 
It's fairly conventional now for "Community" to indicate the open source release in a dual-license model, especially for those who are familiar with MySQL. And we've also found that our community doesn't care what we call it, as long as our open source release is still the same good product, which it has been and will continue to be.
 
On a side note, we happened to discover that there are products out there that use the SE nomenclature such as "Oracle Standard Edition," which is a stripped-down version of Oracle at a lower cost, and that probably added a bit to the confusion as well. 
 
Perhaps most importantly, renaming SE to Community Edition will help our community members convince their decision makers to go with the commercial subscription when appropriate. It's much easier to make that decision when the question is, "Do you want to run it on LIferay Community or Liferay Enterprise?"
 
You'll see this change begin to make its way across our website, JIRA, marketing materials, and the actual software releases. 
 
Thanks again to our community for making Liferay the standard for open source portal and social collaboration software. ;)

Liferay Social Office 1.5 beta Now Available

Company Blogs 14 de Setembro de 2009 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

I am pleased to announce that the second beta for Liferay Social Office is now available for download. This product is the result of a close collaboration between Liferay's product and engineering teams and our awesome community. What's unique about Social Office is that we had the chance to speak with folks on the business side who were more concerned about ease of use and productivity than about opening up possibilities through specific technologies. In other words, a lot of our Liferay Portal community members get excited about WSRP, JSF, ServiceBuilder and our Asset API, whereas our Social Office community was keen to answer questions like, "Will this tool help my teams work together more efficiently?" or "Can I use Social Office in the context of my existing applications?"

The result is a product that is built using Liferay Portal but specifically targets the business end-user. Social Office is designed to enhance the way you work, bringing your colleagues into your sphere of productivity without being intrusive or forcing you to learn difficult new tools. 
 
I also want to acknowledge an incredible engineering team that has helped fulfill the vision for this product with a result that's functional, intuitive, and easy to use: Ryan Park and Peter Shin were our star engineers with additional assistance by Brett Swaim, Nate Cavanaugh and Brian Chan. Thanks to the entire Social Office team for a spectacular job!
 
Version 1.5 of Social Office offers new capabilities, including:
 
Contacts
Contacts help users keep track of people both inside and outside the organization. The contact list automatically adds colleagues that share Site membership with you and allows users to email an entire group of Site members automatically. 
 
New Contact List in Social Office 1.5
 
 
Contacts: Select one of your Sites and email all its members with one click.
 
Tasks
With tasks, you can create and assign tasks to yourself or your contacts, and you can also track tasks and completion status. 
 
Task Management: Social Office lets you assign and receive tasks and document your progress.
 
Today's Events
Users can now view all calendar events from all of their Sites in a single place on their Home page. 
 
Weather
A simple weather module has been added to the personal Home page near the calendar so that users can prepare for upcoming events.

Improved Profiles
Each user can fill out their own online resume-style profile that can help members discover expertise in the organization. Users can enter project profiles, add searchable tags, and fill out personal contact information. 
 
Profiles: Social Office gives enterprises a LinkedIn-style experience for internal use.
 
Site Home
Includes Bookmarks, RSS Feeds, Recent Documents and a listing of the Site's calendar events for the day. 
 
Improved Related Content
Sites in Social Office automatically display related documents, forum threads, blogs, wiki entries, and users based on the tags found on the content currently being browsed.
 
Improved Search
Search across all Sites on the server or within a specific Site. Social Office's federated search combines results from all types, including documents, forum threads, blogs, wiki entries, events, and users.
 
Search: Social Office features an improved federated search interface that's easier to use.
 
 
These are in addition to the existing 1.0 features: Documents with MS Office integration, Calendar, Blogs, Wikis, Message Boards, Mail, Chat, Activity Tracking, Friends, Announcements and Invitations, which you can read about in my previous blog.
 
What's in Store
We'll be tentatively offering an Enterprise Edition of Social Office in the last quarter of 2009 and starting a new Community Edition with Social Office 2.0.
 
We also have an Early Adopter Program in progress allowing participants to provide focused feedback on the product to improve the current version and influence the roadmap for version 2.0. We've already come up with requirements and some wireframes for a number of new features planned for 2.0. 
 
Meanwhile, the feedback on version 1.5 has been very positive: 
  • "This is a fantastic product and we have had a great experience so far."
  • "Works like a dream and that it looks really good and clear!"
Stay tuned for more developments and feel free to evaluate the latest version and tell us what you think!

 

Look Who's Buying Open Source

Company Blogs 12 de Junho de 2009 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

The New York Times had an article this week about Goodwill Industries, the $2.6 billion dollar non-profit organization that generates revenue through retail sales of donated goods and clothing. In part due to the economic downturn and also because of Goodwill's new marketing and diversification efforts, more middle class customers are going to Goodwill to look not only for prudent purchases but also to find steals in high fashion. Marc Jacobs dresses and designer handbags, often unloaded in bulk by manufacturers clearing out previous season inventory, are being sold for a fraction of their retail price, and buyers are snapping them up. 

Goodwill built their corporate website, intranet, and learning delivery system as an integrated solution using Liferay Portal back in 2005, selecting Liferay over IBM Websphere Portal, Plumtree, and other packages whose per-seat licensing for Goodwill's 80,000 employees would have cost a fortune

You could say that Goodwill is re-defining itself: capturing market share in new segments and diversifying their offerings. They're moving upstream and presenting themselves in ways that makes Goodwill attractive to a new generation of customers. Meanwhile, these new customers are realizing the value and quality that Goodwill provides and being smarter about the way they spend their money. 

There are some obvous parallels to the open source software phenomenon, as customers that dismissed open source software as somehow unfit for the enterprise are now realizing that OSS is absolutely valuable for business-critical deployments, providing capabilities equal or greater to their proprietary counterparts at a fraction of the cost. Allianz, AutoZone, Cisco, and Lufthansa Flight Training are just a few of the many enterprises making smart choices with Liferay open source.

Meanwhile, open source vendors like Liferay have addressed the needs of business end-users with solutions that present high-quality open source software in an attractive way. For example, Liferay introduced our Enterprise Edition subscription at the beginning of the year and developed Social Office as a focused solution for team collaboration.

It's always nice to see Liferay customers being covered in the media, and it's great to hear that Goodwill has been innovating in their industry, not only by using Liferay open source software but with new and creative marketing and diversification.

Saving Smart

Company Blogs 24 de Fevereiro de 2009 Por Bryan Cheung Staff

Everyone these days is thinking about the economy and how to hold on to their cash in what seems to be the worst downturn of the last 60 years. Open source vendors that had for the last 24 months been emphasizing other OSS benefits like control, risk-mitigation, better fit to business, and standards, seem to have made a strong return to value-oriented messaging. 

We've done our share of "recession marketing" as well, but here at Liferay, what we've been emphasizing is that Liferay Portal is not only a smart choice to save you cash today, but also to give your business sustained competitive advantage for the long-term. I've been taking this message to the market and people have responded well. Because while they want to show decision makers that they can save money with open source, they also want to choose technology that's fit for business long-term. No one wants to take the rap for short-sighted choices three or five years down the line.

I'm bringing these arguments together here, divided into two sections: "Doing more with less" which shows you how Liferay can save you money today, and "Investing in the long-term," which shows why Liferay makes sense in the long view as well. I hope those of you who are trying to make the argument for Liferay and OSS in general will find some of these ideas helpful in making your case. 

Doing more with less

1. Use your existing software and people. Liferay is famous for its compatibility with a wide range of existing infrastructure software, including the popular contenders like MySQL, Oracle DB, SQLServer, DB2, WebLogic AS, Websphere AS, Oracle AS, JBoss AS, and Tomcat. This means Liferay not only costs less to acquire because of its open source license, but it also has lower ancillary costs. If you already have licenses for these products, you can use them for your Liferay installation. This also saves on training costs since your existing IT staff is most familiar with products already in-house.  

 2. Built-in CMS, Collaboration, and Social Networking. Liferay has also long been known for giving you a lot of functionality out of the box. We did this because so many portal deployments have historically flopped—portal software sat at the edge of infrastructure (a link b/t the app server and applications) and didn't provide immediate solutions for business problems without a great deal of investment.  In other words, they didn't give you anything unless you spent a lot of money doing integration and customization.

So Liferay has taken the strategy of providing immediate solutions people typically need for their web-based applications, within the infrastructure of a portal that brings you long-term integration and reusability benefits 

You know about our WCM and its use in a lot of production systems. Our collaboration suite is being used by Cisco, OCLC, and LavaLife. And The Cradle and pjoon.com, among others, are using Liferay's social computing features. 

By taking an agile, phased approach to development, Liferay users can deploy a solution for web publishing or collaboration immediately (in as little as a week to 3 months), then follow up with short project iterations to add other components. 

3. Web-oriented architecture and lightweight integration (Mashups, widgets and more). A lot of people are talking about the benefits of so-called "Web Oriented Architecture," which forgoes some of the overhead of heavier SOA tools and conventions like SOAP web services, governance tools, and ESBs. So some Liferay customers are taking a lightweight approach to integration using widgets and RSS, XML and JSON data sources along with our pre-built portlets like Google Maps. You can also export portlets as applications to Facebook or import iGoogle gadgets and iPhone websites. These mashup-oriented solutions are surprisingly effective for certain use cases and take very little development investment.  

4. Support for scripting languages: PHP, Ruby, Python, Groovy, etc. Scripting languages are gaining acceptance in the enterprise, and choosing a Java-based solution shouldn't have to mean jettisoning your investment in these technologies. That's why Liferay pioneered the ability to deploy portlets based on these popular scripting languages into a portal solution. You can simply upload a ZIP and Liferay add the necessary files and libraries to get your simple PHP or other app running. 

5. Reduce capital expenditures and save on operating expenses. The open source savings equation should be familiar to all of us by now, but here's a more concrete calculation. We took a list of our customers from the second half of 2008 and discovered that they saved about 93% on average over IBM and Oracle retail prices for their first year. The capital expenditure part of the equation is eliminated with Liferay, of course, but our annual subscriptions options start at less than a few thousand dollars per server per year, and you have four different SLA options. So if you don't need 24/ 7 support, you can opt for a lower cost package, but round-the-clock service is also there for your business-critical deployments.

The other side of the coin: investing in the long-term

Of course it's not enough just to focus on cutting immediate costs if the solutions you choose reduce your competitiveness in the future. So here's a list of the ways Liferay prepares you for the next economic upswing.  

1. Build a solution that fits your business. One of the reasons why our customers continue to choose Liferay over other point solutions for CMS, social networking, blogs, wikis, forums, and IM, is their ability to customize Liferay and integrate it into their business. For example, one of our clients started out using Liferay with an SSO solution into some popular forums and Wiki providers, but in phase two they're going to move that all into Liferay so they can customize the user experience for their particular business need. In this case, they're driving revenue by reducing the time to market of their solution partners, which in turn increases the sales revenue. 

2. Usability matters. Today's web users are sophisticated and accustomed to consumer sites like Facebook and Google Maps with intuitive user experience. As a portal vendor, we understand that a major part of our value proposition lies in providing a reusable presentation layer. So we've invested strongly in UI and our front-end team led by Director of UI Engineering Nate Cavanaugh has been constantly improving and innovating around our user experience.  

Rich internet applications are also seeing significant development, so we're doing our best to support a variety of presentation frameworks, be it AJAX through JQuery or some other leading libraries, or JSF with our ICEfaces and other JSF library support. We've also seen community members put a Google web toolkit or Flex front-end to Liferay with some positive results. 

All this is important because user adoption is key to long-term return on investment. If no one is using your web application, you'll waste a lot of time and resources on a solution that doesn't impact the business. 

3. Innovation, security, and maintenance. Because of Liferay's open source model, which is among the most open even among OSS vendors, you can expect to benefit from new features, improved security and reduced maintenance costs over the long term.  

One major part of the equation is our strong open source community, which constantly innovates new features and adds stability with bug reports and fixes for performance and security. Liferay has a ten year development history starting in 2000, and our community growth has been fiercely organic. Not to diminish the valuable offerings of other open source companies, but Liferay is one of the few OSS companies that didn't suddenly appear on the landscape, and we're still financially independent and profitable, which allows to make decisions favorable to the community. 

In addition, many of Liferay's features are sponsored by clients, which means they pay for development of features that address their business requirements but also can benefit other users. Liferay in turn promises to maintain that code long-term, reducing the maintenance cost to the sponsoring client. Other users and customers can then benefit from the new features, improving on them and multiplying the benefits to all parties. 

4. Lower total cost of ownership over the life of your application.  Reduced capital expenditures are nice, but as a Gartner report recently pointed out, it's not enough just to spread your costs around to other places. Fortunately, Liferay is also less expensive to maintain over time. Oracle's annual maintenance costs for WebCenter Suite, for example, are 11 times higher than our retail price per server for the highest level of support. And you should also factor in the reduced maintenance costs for custom features if you have a sponsored development relationship with Liferay, as well as reduced additional maintenance for supporting infrastructure.  

More reasons than ever to choose Liferay

The cost / benefit analysis for open source software can be tricky and saving money is not a guarantee. But more importantly, it's foolish to make a cost-based decision today only to lose out on future competitiveness and revenue streams. Liferay's customers have been smart about their savings—they're investing in their futures with Liferay open source software, and it's a perspective you should take to any open source software you're evaluating today. 

And as a final note, if your organization is resisting open source adoption due to legal issues or a general discomfort with OS-licensed software, I'll write a follow up post about making a case. But here are two initial points: 

1. Liferay's MIT license is the most liberal and non-viral license out there, which is reassuring for businesses. 

2. Liferay's EE is available under a commercial license for those who prefer that option, with the added benefit of a long-term subscription to maintenance updates.  

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