Open Source

Alfresco Founder: Commercial Open Source is more than Old Stuff for Free

February sees Open Source turn 20 years old. Or the OSI definition at least. According to the OSI, the term was coined in Palo Alto by nanotechnologist Christine Peterson during a meeting on February 3rd, 1998 shortly after the announcement of the release of Netscape’s source code.

In those 20 years, a lot has changed. Major technology shifts are now driven by Open Source technologies: Big Data (Hadoop, Spark), AI (TensorFlow, Caffe), and Containers (Docker, Kubernetes) are all Open projects. Massive companies including Google, Facebook, and even Lyft regularly release Open Source tools for the world to use. Microsoft – a company that once described Linux as a cancer – now embraces the concept. And commercial Open Source is not just a niche idea operated at the fringes of the technology landscape but a common and successful business model for companies to adopt.

One such organization is Alfresco Software. Founded in 2005, the San Mateo, CA-headquartered Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Business Process Management (BPM) company has spent the last 13 years balancing commercial requirements with keeping its Open Source-loving community happy.

The terms free and open source get used interchangeably but in reality they’re not the same. Free vs. open source software – what’s the difference?

[NB: Since these interviews were conducted and this piece written, private equity firm THL announced it was acquiring Alfresco].

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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