Enterprise Open Source solutions

To deliver a value, every infrastructure needs applications. If you review the Open Source business solutions market, community-developed Open Source solutions are often among the very best solutions. Examples are Redmine (project and process management), WordPress (publishing and blogging), DokuWiki (wiki), Subversion & Git (version control), Discourse (forum) and many more. Also, some renown companies like SugarCRM, NetSuite, and Suse have grown out of community-developed Open Source projects.

A large community ensures ongoing enhancements and the solution usually has numerous, helpful plug-ins and themes, so that it can be used for multiple business requirements. Furthermore, the speed with which new features are released is often impressive. From a functional point of view, the result is usually just great.

But from a corporate point of view, there are a few issues with community-developed Open Source solutions (short: the solution).

Examples are:

  1. The installation of a solution in a corporate environment is often difficult and can be time-consuming. Furthermore, the configuration may require expert knowledge, which a company does not have in-house and the periodic upgrades are just a costly exercise for a little bit more functionality but must be done for security reasons.
  2. In the cloud, security is always key. The solution usually has all required features, but they need to be configured, integrated, tested and also monitored.
  3. Efficient support and training for employees and administrators is often an issue. The local computer school is rarely offering classes for just this solution and if you need a technical expert, it is not obvious where to find it.
  4. Finally, the legal terms are not clear. A larger corporation has the risk of being sued and needs to review beforehand the licenses of the solution and its plug-ins.

Overall, from a management point of view, such a project has an uncertain destiny and that’s often the killer for such a project.

A new approach and middle-ware is required

What is missing, is a new kind of middle-ware that is addressing all the issues above. The general idea is very simple: take the great community-developed solutions and fill all the gaps. With such a middle-ware companies can benefit from great solutions and have the piece of mind that the solution is reviewed, tested and supported from a corporate point of view.

SiouxApp and 7iSolutions are implementing the described model. We currently offer 4 solutions in the Univention App Center: DokuWiki,Redmine, WordPress and Subversion. Univention Corporate Server is an excellent business server for companies and teams. The server is a reliable, scalable and secure infrastructure for many organizations. Furthermore, the App Center is a very visionary approach for application management and is definitely the way to go.

We typically do the following: We evaluate a community-developed solution (i.e. popularity, community strength, legal aspects, practical business use, check plug-ins and themes), then pre-configure a solution (i.e. typical business settings, security settings, multi-tenancy capability, integration with UCS, auto-installation with 1-command-line), make sure the periodic upgrades are easy to do (i.e. write upgrade scripts, run tests) and finally test the entire solution in very detail. With regard to UCS, this means that the applications are operational and fully integrated into the identity management system directly after the installation via the Univention App Center.

In addition and on request, 7iSolutions offers all services a company might need. Examples are operating support (e.g. installation, configuration, administration, troubleshooting, upgrading), user support, technical support and training by webinars for administrators and users. All services are delivered remotely, which is just more efficient nowadays.

Finally, we are building a business-oriented Info-Center that provides transparency. For every solution all the details, e.g., recommended business use, trainings and video links, legal details, are summarized and will be easily accessible.

In summary, with the integration of SiouxApps, the services from 7iSolutions and the transparency from the Info-Center, a business will have all the required components to benefit from great community-developed Open Source solutions on Univention Corporate Server.

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