Ismael Ghalimi presented his vision of “what’s next” and started with some history. In 1998 he started work on what he now calls “Office 2.0” and, while prototyping ideas, he met the other founders and started to put together a plan for a platform that would allow him (a self-confessed poor programmer) to build web applications. Intalio started in 1999 and focused on transactional workflow systems. In 2000 they started calling it a BPMS. Open Source was always part of the plan as they had little money. As they got started they kicked off a lot of open source projects for low-level components. They raised money, got started and developed the product without any sense of how to make money at open source. Like many companies they underestimated the total time and cost required and their timing was off – probably 5 years too early.
Re-launched the company in 2006, rewrote the product and returned to their open source roots. This means making the software downloadable, easy to install, easy to deploy – just like other open source programs – and this required the rewrite. Since October 2005 35,000 user organizations have registered, 400 organizations have become customers and have sold the product in 45 countries. They believe they have the largest installed base of all BPMS vendors. Part of their success, he believes, is the Commercial Open Source Model, where some of the code is licensed even though most is open source. None of the 400 customers have stopped renewing their subscription – ZERO attrition. In addition, the open source model means that no matter what happens to Intalio, the source code is available and licensed in a way that means you can always guarantee support over time.
80% of the code, including the core BPEL engine, is given to the Apache Foundation for open source. Apache even own the copyright and, as a foundation, this software is always going to be available. Eclipse likewise. The Apache license is VERY liberal. This 80% plus some other open source components is used to build the free community edition. Of the 35,000 users of this edition, many of them are in production on the free version. The Enterprise Edition adds some functionality, some support and patent indemnification and is sold as a subscription. This edition, too, includes the full source code for the product with the right to edit it freely.
Intalio focuses also on its partner network and invests heavily in it. They have 30 certified and trained resellers of the product. Very localized and always looking for new partners. Similarly they invest in industry standards like BPMN (which they led) and others that, while they did not work, drove others to come up with new standards like BPEL.
In the last 12 months they have increased their investment as it become clear the model was working. They have always offered on premise deployment but recently they added on demand deployment. The On Demand edition is available now on the Amazon cloud and allows the design and deployment of projects without buying hardware, important for evaluation. This also allowed them to virtualize the software (supporting VMWare, for instance) and make it easy to offer Intalio-based solutions as SaaS. Finally, this allows them to ship an appliance with everything on it and remote administration/upgrades. They have worked hard to support all the available CPUs, Operating systems, Application Servers and Databases. The OEM deal they did with Informatica allowed them to certify 8 CPUs, 8 Operating Systems, 7 Application systems and 7 DBMS! Just shipped Intalio BPMS 5.2 and are very happy with it.
- 250,000 process steps in a Dutch Government system to track all the 25M animals in the Netherlands
- This system has 250,000,000 instances running for up to 5 years
- Same system has 100,000 end users (farmers) every day
- 1,000 server grid at the US Department of Energy
- 100,000 process models at Coghead
- Next release will emerge from the Demand Driven Development (D3) features
These features are requested by customers, voted on by the community, priced and designed by Intalio and then paid for by customers who sign up and who get a 50% credit for the money they invest. 50-75% of the engineering resources are driven this way.
- Content/Document Management System
Intalio is being integrated with Alfresco and resells it. Very happy with the product. Will be released very soon with more to come.
Liferay portal is likewise being integrated.
- Enterprise Service Bus
No one-size fits all for ESBs so are supporting AXIS2, Mule and ServiceMix – each of which has specific capabilities and strengths.
- Business Rules
One way to reduce the complexity of processes is to put rules to work. The work integrating Drools is underway.
- Rich User Interfaces
Currently have an Ajax based XForms implementation. To make this better, they have abstracted the API on the designer so you can use Flex, Flash, .Net, Tibco GI etc.
- Exit Paths
Now that Oracle has dropped support for BEA/Fuego, Intalio is planning to offer services to help migrate customers to the product. Won’t be a one click tool but the migration can be made fairly straightforward. Similarly, Tibco/Staffware is not being maintained already and there are growing rumors of an acquisition so migration is an issue there.
3 Vertical industries are going to get additional focus. Financial Services (which is already underway), Public Sector (Federal and Local) and Telecommunications.
Moving beyond the 45 countries already supported and adding process experts to countries that reach a critical mass. Recently delivered a Japanese version (first non-English language).
All in all, an interesting history lesson and an ambitious and thoughtful plan for the future.