Yesterday’s launch of Activiti starts a new generation of business process management (BPM) software that will disrupt the existing BPM engine landscape. Activiti promises to be the ideal choice for using BPM in commercial application development, because it is both based on open-standards and distributed under a liberal open-source license. More than anything else, these two aspects of Activiti make it more interesting for commercial software development than either other open source BPM platforms that have more restrictive licenses, or closed-source commercial offerings that carry the heavy price of vendor lock-in.
The benefits of an open-source solution require no explanation; the Activiti FAQ explains the license choice:
Activiti is licensed under the Apache License 2.0 to encourage widespread usage and adoption of the Activiti BPM engine and BPMN 2.0. By choosing such a liberal licence, we want to emphasize our goal of commoditizing BPM technology.
Activiti is the result of a collaboration between Alfresco and a new development team: Tom Baeyens, formerly jBPM project lead, and Joram Barrez, former jBPM core developer. This means that Activiti is no mere new entrant in the BPM world: Activiti is the result of both the theoretical underpinnings of the jBPM platform and Alfresco’s experience of delivering BPM in its Enterprise Content Management product suite.
When we met Tom and Joram to discuss this new venture, they made it clear that a new approach is essential to take BPM from its initial niche software status to widespread adoption in business software. While BPM initially gained popularity as a stand-alone software category, business processes and work-flow are aspects of most business software and integrating embeddable BPM will be a key element in reducing the cost of business software development.
They went on to explain how existing BPM platforms are unable to meet this need, leaving a huge gap in the market for a next generation solution. Alfresco is the organisation that has stepped up to fill this gap, having recognised that the world needs this kind of solution; there will be more commercial organisations that require an embeddable BPM solution with a more liberal open-source license. Activiti is that solution.