Alfresco shook the BPM trees five years ago when it first brought the jBPM team in to build a new open source business process engine. We’ve started shaking trees again and something big is going to emerge from the BPM forest in 2015.
So, what was different about this past year? When we started Activiti it was because we couldn’t find another open source BPM engine to replace jBPM that was powering the workflow in Alfresco’s ECM product. We were having performance and scaling issues but the jBPM project was too restricted by its legacy and an unwillingness by RedHat to open it up to wider contribution. The result was that the jBPM team came to join us at Alfresco, and we invested in building out Activiti leveraging the expertise and learnings from 4 generations of jBPM. Alfresco had workflow for our content management engine, but didn’t want to get into the pure-play BPM business. That’s what changed this last year.
In the last couple of years, Alfresco has grown significantly in size and ambition, and at the same time the ECM, Collaboration, BPM and Case Management markets have started to converge. At the beginning of 2014 we decided Alfresco and the market were right to broaden our product portfolio. We started building a BPM suite with Alfresco Activiti.
Within 6 months we had our preview release, including a completely new administration and monitoring app, and a ground-up reimplementation of a BPMN model repository and visual editor app, with some unique capabilities. By the 10th month we had the second release with a whole set of new and innovative functionality: business user process design; collaborative task management; and process applications. How did we manage to achieve so much? Well, some of it was by switching to AngularJS for the UI, but most of it was down to the awesome skill and experience of the key Activiti architects, Joram Barrez and Tijs Rademakers.
2014 also brought us validation, not just by adding new customers from different ends of the world, and not just from highly respected analysts at Forrester and Gartner, but also from a group of developers really pushing the boundaries of Activiti’s capabilities. This group of developers are from one of the biggest tech companies on the planet that we probably all use, and they wanted Activiti to perform and scale to an extent that we thought was just a little bonkers. Working with that team we implemented a new job executor that achieved the volume and speed they needed. Not only that, but they’d also looked closely at a fork of Activiti and decided the real knowledge, experience and innovation was with the original Activiti project.
All of which means, stepping into 2015, I have no worries about our ability to beat the rest when it comes to raw business process management power or our power to innovate rapidly. We’re continuing to expand the team and I’ll talk more about our direction and plans in future posts. Expect a lot to happen this year, we’re going to surprise you.