It's a kind of 'Open Source 1.1'. Developers are springing up who build install stacks for open source products like the Drupal Web CMS or Alfresco's Enterprise CMS; offering packaged versions which automate and greatly simplify the initial deployment, or offer various usability augmentations to these powerful but often occasionally less polished products.
Open source being repackaged in this fashion is something we have covered before — SpikeSource are in this line of business. Bitnami though, they're taking things up a notch, introducing some welcome competition.
And now we have a new player in this market, one which has been quietly beavering away on stacks for open source products for some time, compiling a small arsenal of packages which are likely to find favor with those who are attracted by the potential of open source, but put off by the often unfriendly implementation process.
BitNami build stacks for open source content management, document management, Wiki and blogging applications. The stacks are freely available, and are especially geared towards easing the install and config process for such products.
Their portfolio already includes stacks for WordPress, Joomla, Roller, Liferay, DocuWiki and MediaWiki; and tomorrow will see the launch of their installation stack for KnowledgeTree (following the launch of KnowledgeTree 3.5 today).
Erica Brescia of BitNami took time to talk to CMSWire about what exactly BitNami do, what they have on offer, and, most important of all, why you are going to fall in love with their products.
CMSWire: So you offer stacks for open source for free. How kind of you. What's your angle?
Erica Brescia: We're currently just focused on building the stacks and getting as many people using them as possible. In the future, we will be providing support and services around them, but the stacks themselves will always remain free to use.
CMSWire: Where are you based? Where did you come from? What's the history behind BitNami?
EB: I am based in Seville, most of the time. We say that I am based on a plane because I jump back and forth [to San Francisco] a lot.
We were founded in 2003 by Daniel Lopez Ridruejo. We started with one product, our cross-platform installation tool, BitRock InstallBuilder. We then moved into 'custom stacks' when we saw that there was a huge need for simplification on the installation side of open source software.
There was a lot of great software available, but people didn't know how (or want to know) how to install and configure Apache, MySQL, PHP, etc, just to test out a new app. Our company (BitRock) has a lot of experience in the packaging space, as we have clients such as MySQL, SugarCRM, JasperSoft and Pentaho shipping customized stacks.
CMSWire: Let's talk about BitNami's Joomla! stack, for instance. It contains an installer, but what else is in there? Different interface? Ajax-enabled? Why should I download your stack?
EB: The idea is to provide software stacks that are as easy to install as possible, so that anyone can get a web-based application such as Joomla! up and running in just a few minutes. We don't currently provide a separate interface or other functionality on top of the stacks.
The installer does make it much, much easier to get the apps up and running though. All of the configuration is taken care of during the install. For example, with the WordPress stack, it even captures your email and the name of your blog, so you can start posting as soon as you are done installing.
CMSWire: Who do you see as your competitors in your field?
EB: Well, what we are doing is very similar to what SpikeSource is doing with their certified stacks, only we are supporting more apps, on more platforms, with an easier installation process.
CMSWatch: What's in store for the future?
EB: We are going to be releasing several new stacks, as well as keeping up with new releases of existing stacks, over the next few months. We'll also be releasing integrated 'suite' stacks in the near future. They will integrate applications commonly used together to provide one complete package.
We will also be focused on building more of a community around BitNami, so that people outside of our group can get involved in the project
CMSWire: Oh Yeah? Integrated suites? What kinds of apps are we talking about here?
EB: Not sure that I can give too many details yet.
CMSWire: Don't worry. You can tell us. We won't tell anyone. It'll just be our little secret…
EB: I can tell you that they'll be focused on making developers' lives easier. And that no one has released a stack with the combinations we are looking at yet. We plan on building the stacks that people most commonly request. We just added a voting feature to the site, and we will be relying on those votes to decide which stacks would be the most useful for people. If people have an opinion, we'd love it if they would take a second to vote. We will be releasing a stack for KnowledgeTree tomorrow […and reports reach me that a BitNami Alfresco stack is in the pipeline – Ed.].
Are you intrigued by the BitNami story? If so, visit the BitNami site to download your OSS stack of choice.
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