We still believe in Linus’ law after Heartbleed bug, says Elie Auvray of Jahia

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We interview Elie Auvray, who co-founded Jahia Solutions Group SA after having started Jahia’s French operations in 2002 and is acting as President of the Board and CEO.

Swapnil: Can you tell us when and how Jahia started? A bit of history?

Auvray: Jahia was incepted in 2002 in Switzerland – the name comes from the contraction of Java (our core language) and Bahia (which means “bay” in Brazil). To support the international growth of the project, Jahia Solutions Group was later formed (in 2005) with offices throughout Europe and Jahia Inc. (the US subsidiary) was created in 2008. Jahia has now offices in Geneva, Paris, Toronto, Chicago, Washington, DC, Dusseldorf and Klagenfurt – and outsourced support centers in Australia and Nicaragua.

Swapnil: Can you tell us a bit about what is Jahia and how is WCMS different from a regular CMS?

Auvray: Today Jahia is the #1 Open Source alternative to proprietary CMS vendors for upper tier digital projects. Over the years, we’ve focused on building a content platform that delivers true technology convergence: business user and developers work in harmony to deploy digital projects (Portals, multichannel, multi site, Multilanguage corporate sites, extranets, intranets and even full digital applications) securely and seamlessly.

Swapnil: Who is the typical target audience of Jahia?

Auvray: Digital workers in business departments (such as Marketing) are the typical users of Jahia. Our target position in organizations is mainly the CIO, but also the CMO.

Swapnil: Jahia uses dual licences – while the community version is available under GNU GPLv2, you offer enterprise edition under a proprietary licence? How different is that from RHEL model and is proprietary licence the correct word?

Auvray: Similarly to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Jahia provides an Enterprise distribution under a commercial (i.e. non-viral) license: the Jahia Sustainable Enterprise License (JSEL). The Jahia Community distribution is under GNU GPL v2, similarly to Red Hat who uses GPL v2 to distribute some of its software.

Our Enterprise and Community distributions both share the same core, and our Enterprise one also fosters community back contribution and allows our customers to influence our roadmap.

Enterprise distributions are only available to our customers, at no license costs, and are covered by a subscription that works like an insurance: mission critical projects of subscribers are backed up by our architects and developers, authors of the Jahia software suite.

In other words, rather than paying a license fee as they would with a proprietary software vendor, Jahia customers contribute to an open source project by financing enhancements and get them in priority, fully tested and at a much lower and controlled TCO.

Swapnil: You are using v2, why you chose not to use v3?

Auvray: We are still using GPL v2 for two reasons:

1. Stability: licensing is a sensitive question because it’s a complex subject where details are not always easy to understand for our community of developers and customers: over the year they’ve made it clear they like stability and changing the license could mean negative impact. That’s one of the reason we haven’t changed it as of today.

2. Compatibility: GPL v2 specifically allows to use this version “or any later version” means our community has freedom of choice. Conversely, using GPL v3 could be problematic since there is no backward compatibility with v2 -and v2 is still used by a lot of open source project.

Swapnil: What is the main difference between the community and enterprise edition?

Auvray: The community and the enterprise distributions share the same core but the Enterprise one provide extensions and tools to industrialize enterprise digital and mission critical initiatives.

Swapnil: Can you tell us about some major deployment/implementation of Jahia lately?

Auvray: Jahia is powering large deployments for global organizations such as Ben & Jerry’s, Abercrombie and Fitch, the European Parliament, HomeAway.com, General Motors, and other top tier brands that we cannot disclose. When Jahia is chosen for major deployments, it usually delivers most (if not all) of the customers’ digital initiatives: global portals, intranets, extranets, all of the company’s country sites, etc.

Swapnil: Being an Open Source project, what is your take on issues like GnuTLS or openSSL where people are poking fun at Linus’ law?

Auvray: After the Heartbleed bug, we still believe in Linus’ law: “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”: even more so. First, the publicity around that bug is the proof that open source project have nothing to hide: they deliver more secure and stable software precisely because anyone can look at the code and find (and fix) its flaws: the Heartbleed bug on OpenSSL was fixed on April 7th, 2014, at the same time it was publicly disclosed. Proprietary softwares also have bugs –: they are less visible (since the code isn’t open), which means they potentially stay unfixed much longer. As a matter of fact, a study reported by CIO magazine showed that open source developers fix bugs way faster than proprietary one, precisely because of open source transparency and availability.

Swapnil: Can you talk about the organizational structure of Jahia?

Auvray: Jahia is an open source software company that focuses primarily on developing and supporting a world-class content platform for customers around the world. We’re operating from 8 countries and rely on a strong network of certified partners to deliver enterprise projects, globally.

Swapnil: What kind of community Jahia has? Are you are contributing to or engaged with other open source projects?

Auvray: Jahia enjoys a vibrant community and is engaged in many open source projects, mainly from the Apache foundation, and standards – such as WEMI.

Swapnil: How can someone contribute to Jahia? What are the incentives, motivation and what are the points of contacts?

Auvray: Any developer interested in Jahia can register and participate to our community, contribute to the Jahia project, post modules on our Public app store and interact with other members on our forums. In addition to provide incentives to our community (for instance, with developer contests), we offer a unique value to our customers: the JSEL license of our Enterprise distribution allows them to contribute to the software as well.

When customers decide to financially contribute to a new feature, guaranteed and validated by Jahia’s R&D and QA development, they will not pay anything else to get:
• “their” new feature also covered by the subscription
• the benefits of future maintenance and enhancements of their new feature delivered by Jahia and/or other community members.

Swapnil Bhartiya
A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005. You can follow him on LinkedIn , Google+, Twitter and Facebook.