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XeniT open sources Alfred Software

Summary TL;DR: To lower Alfresco’s total cost of ownership and increase the agility and scalability of the digital platform, Xenit launches the Alfred Suite. The Alfred Suite is a set of software components, combined with managed services, that are fully integrated into Alfresco. Alfred software components are released as open-source software under LGPL (Lesser General Public License), consistent and compliant with Alfresco community code. By open-sourcing, we eliminate vendor lock-in and welcome partners and customers to inspect, use and contribute to Alfred. By tuning expertise and operational experience in our partner network Alfred, as managed service, delivers: Alfresco ECM agility (easy upgrades with stable API, non-breaking model changes, …)From 99.5% up to 99.9% availability query performance of 3 seconds (or less) return time for 95 % of requests.

Open source products lower TCO

At Xenit, we are an early and long-standing partner of Alfresco, and one of the main reasons for that is the Open Source Model Alfresco has advocated and applied. Open source products and libraries are a way to make R&D more efficient worldwide, stop reinventing the wheel, and start improving the state of the art. Too much energy is put into software that hardly leaves the shelves, and only a small part of it is reused. If you need a text indexing library, why would you use anything else than Apache Lucene? Alfresco supports the use of the Solr Enterprise search platform for searching within the Alfresco repository. Solr uses Lucene as an indexing and search engine. Delivering compelling value to millions of users at a fraction of the cost of proprietary solutions: that is the Alfresco and Xenit promise to the market. Getting TCO down, increasing agility, and creating an affordable digital experience for customers and partners.

A product, and a fortiori an open-source product, is a way to divide the cost of creating and maintaining software over as many people, companies, and time as possible (sharing principle). Open-sourcing a product is a to invite more parties and partners to contribute to it (reuse principle), and to leverage the open-source assets that can be found on GitHub.

The Alfred suite of products, part of the Alfred service, are open-source to avoid vendor lock-in, empower collaboration, and foster production.

We provide our customers with the freedom to reuse our technology, be independent, build on top of it, or let us manage services. Our open-source offering stimulates also cooperation and joint development with partners and IT savvy customers and allows all users to inspect, enrich and improve our products

The principles of sharing and reuse are the new imperatives of a sustainable economic model. Quoting GitHub, owned by Microsoft: “The future of enterprise innovation is an open-source”. In a sustainable economy, open-source is the new fuel. Not only the costs are affected, but also the quality of the software benefits from transparency and white box testing. Bugs can be solved and deployed in a fraction of the time compared to closed software.

An open-source product is about sharing and reusing to create a sustainable service at a low cost. A product approach mainly decreases operational, upgrade, and integration costs over the lifetime of a solution. For content services, these costs are typically 3 to 10 times the cost to build a solution.

We commercialize our services and support for the software and the end-to-end service you are running. This covers Alfred software and Alfresco software including the service you are expecting, like document ingestion, query and retrieval of documents, document retention, meta-data management, and system interfaces to ERP, CRM or vertical applications.

License model: LGPL

Xenit distributes Alfred with an LGPL license, often called the “weak copyleft” license, because code licensed under LGPL’s terms can be combined with code under non-free licenses

While the GPL license requires users to share the code of all ‘derivative work’, the LGPL requires them to share only the source code of the work ‘based’ on the LGPL-licenses components and not of the work which ‘uses’ it, meaning they are not obligated to share the code that is designed to work with the Library by being compiled or linked with it – static or dynamic.

In our case, LGPL does not require users to offer the code of the system that uses our Alfred software back to Xenit, but it requires users to offer their changes to Alfred software back to Xenit.

LGPL is the license of the Alfresco community edition!

Xenit doesn’t offer an enterprise edition. We believe that an enterprise edition is a barrier to collaboration and innovation, as contributors have to cede their IP rights to Xenit. We don’t want customers to pay for “the better version (enterprise)”, we want to generate revenue to maintain and develop the one and only version. However, to help and support customers and partners and make sure Alfred and Alfresco work well, we do offer a software subscription and a managed service contract with Alfred software.

LGPL software is not the most liberal form of license. We chose this license because we need revenue from our work, and finance the support with our software. LGPL places restrictions so that a system integrator would not be able to take Alfred, add features to it, and release it as a packaged product under their own brand. Well, at least not without giving the modifications back. And that benefits the community.

Anyone is welcome to use and participate in the development of the project, but we truly suggest all development efforts be channeled back to the community. As well as we will include all our work coming from the specific customer’s assignments. We want to be able to reuse investments done for one customer when working for the next — in the end, everyone will benefit from the product’s improvement.

Under LGPL, our software can be used by both, open and closed source software, but Alfred itself is protected from unfair competition (people taking our work and just reselling it). How does LGPL affect Alfred users?

  • If you’re not distributing the software — you’re free to use and modify Alfred without doing something special.
  • If you distribute software using Alfred, you must offer to supply the source code of Alfred. If you’re just using the official builds, you don’t have to do anything special as the code is already available on GitHub.
  • If you distribute a modified version of Alfred, you must offer to supply the source of that modified version.

Is open-source software free of charge?

“Using open source is free—if your time is worth nothing” (source tidelift).

We believe that software and services should be as cheap as possible, but not cheaper. An unsupported system with 98% availability or lower is “expensive for free. Alfred software is affordable, and its cost is proportional to the value brought to the customers.

Freedom in open source is about avoiding vendor lock-in, being free to inspect the code, being free to use and test it, modifying it to suit specific needs, and being able to mobilize engineering capital with partners, customers, and suppliers to contribute to better software without being limited by IP. In simple terms, “if you have an expert to fix a bug in the software, and you have the time and money to do so, nothing should stop you.”

Pay for what you use and what is useful

A good business model tries to determine the real value of a service or software and scales the cost to be proportional to its value. Current business models, based on the number of seats, users, CPU or whatever kind of proxy for value, will be replaced by more relevant value drivers. For free, on the other hand, is no business model. Free things are an incentive for wistful behavior.

Run software, pay for service, and get a solution

We offer subscriptions with our software to ensure that Alfred helps users to get great value out of Alfresco, not just to download software. To convert software into service, even on-premise, customers need to add operational excellence, deploy an architecture with resilience, and tune and tweak components such that they scale.

Operational excellence requires:

  • a resilient architecture, built with the possibility of failure in mind, with service discovery and circuit breaking (Alfred as service);
  • proactive monitoring (Alfred Ops);
  • controlling the input and the output of the core content services (Alfred inflow and Alfred Edge);
  • a stable and semantic business API (Alfred API).

So, we don’t sell software, we sell success with Alfresco!

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