Red Hat's loss of Tom Baeyens, founder and architect of the jBOSS jBPM project, is Alfresco's gain as the open source ECM stalwart makes an aggressive move into the open source business process management space.

It is no secret that an integrated BPM (business process management) solution is on Alfresco's roadmap. Alfresco (newssite) actively supports the jBOSS jBPM project, but the need for a more "liberal" license is what put the gears in motion.

According to Matthew Aslett, blogging at 451 Caos Theory, Alfresco went so far as to ask Red Hat (newssite) to re-license jBPM. When Red Hat respectfully declined, Alfresco did what any savvy software vendor would do -- hire away the foremost industry expert and his second-in-command (fellow BPM architect Joram Barrez).

But enough politics, the question begging to be answered is:

What is Activiti?

Other than being a funny way to spell an everyday word, Activiti is a suite of software products with the intent to become the leading open source BPM solution.

The suite is made up of:

  • Activiti Engine: A lightweight, embeddable JAR file that contains a "process virtual machine" and the actual implementation of the BPMN process language.
  • Activiti Probe: A console that enables system administrators to control and monitor the Activiti Engine.


Activiti Probe

  • Activiti Explorer: An application for end-users to manage task lists and execute process tasks.


Activiti Explorer

  • Activiti Modeler: A browser-based BPMN 2.0 process modeling tool for business analysts.


Activiti Modeler

Partners, Partners, Partners

Take a closer look at the screenshot of the Activiti Modeler above. You will notice that it is branded: "Powered by Signavio". Signavio, the provider of a leading web-based BPMN 2.0 modeling solution, is not the only company that Alfresco is partnering with to make Activiti a reality.

Learning Opportunities

SpringSource is involved to ensure that not only will the Activiti suite run well within the SpringSource software stack, but also that it will run in the cloud.

And what is a great software product without a team of consultants to "help" customers implement it -- at a hefty hourly rate I daresay. Camunda is the lucky firm that is first in line to help Alfresco's existing customers add BPM to their respective enterprises.

When Will It Be Available?

If you simply cannot wait another minute to get your hands on the Activiti suite, the good news is that a release candidate is available now. If you are expecting a cut and paste of jBPM, be warned because the Activiti Engine is a ground-up rewrite.

The full release is expected in November of this year and will include Activiti Cycle -- a collaboration tool that further integrates process models into the Alfresco content repository.


Special Thanks to Sandy Kemsley at Column 2 for the Image

What Do You Think?

Is this announcement as exciting as John Newton would have us think it is? Or is Alfresco spreading its offerings too thin? Drop us a comment and let us know your thoughts.