Dashboard Insight recently spoke with BonitaSoft's Miguel Valdés-Faura about their fully functional open-source BPM solution.
Dashboard Insight: Can you tell us the history of BonitaSoft?
Miguel Valdés-Faura: BonitaSoft is built around the open-source Bonita project, which I first developed in 2001 at the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA). My vision was for BPM to become mainstream, an essential part of every enterprise’s IT portfolio. After working at INRIA I was hired by French software company Bull to help develop business process applications. We eventually spun off to develop our own specialized BPM offering, founding BonitaSoft in June 2009. Shortly thereafter we raised $3 million in Series A funding from France-based VC firms Ventech and Auriga Partners. Here we are, 18 months later: with more than half a million downloads, over 100 customers and offices on three continents.
DI: Where does BonitaSoft sit on the BI Stack?
MVF: BI and BPM technologies are complementary and largely used together in many enterprise software projects. BonitaSoft software is about process automation and process-based application development. BI technologies bring analytics to process automation by providing the right reports and dashboards to the business users. Analytics in BPM are key to improving processes and business applications.
Different BI and operational BI technologies are integrated by default with Bonita Open Solution, including open source BI solutions such as JasperSoft or Birt. Through these integrations, users can easily create and customize reports and dashboards using their favorite BI solution and then integrate them into Bonita Open Solution.
DI: Tell us about your customers, who uses your solutions?
MVF: Our goal is to disseminate Bonita Open Solution to the widest possible audience so we don’t focus on specific verticals. Our customers use our BPM solution for internal banking applications (like major French bank Société Générale and EFG bank in Switzerland), e-government applications (such as the governments of the Canary Islands and Mexico), manufacturing (La Sonaca, Atmel, Solvey, Konica Minolta), logistics and supply chain management (ChronoExpres, Coca Cola), telecommunications (such Conviva and Avisor), Pharmaceutics (Pfizer, Agence Biomedecine) and human resources applications (French Ministry of Agriculture).
DI: With the drastic shift in the global economy last year was BonitaSoft affected, how did you adjust?
MVF: BonitaSoft’s business model is completely based on massive dissemination and adoption of our open source BPM solution. During the global economic crisis many larger organizations decided to look for alternatives to the expensive BPM solutions offered by proprietary vendors – that’s when they found Bonita Open Solution.
DI: What makes BonitaSoft unique?
MVF: Interest in business process improvement is extraordinarily high across many industries but the BPM software market is dominated by heavyweight, proprietary vendors supplying their technologies to large accounts through lengthy, complex, expensive business and information systems re-engineering projects. In this highly competitive and consolidated market, there is an enormous untapped opportunity for technology suite providers that specialize in BPM and seek to make it mainstream.
What makes Bonita Open Solution different is we offer a complete open source BPM suite with all the advanced features that users could previously only find in proprietary solutions. BonitaSoft strives to introduce BPM technology to all types of organizations by providing a solution that is easy to install and easy to configure. Users who want to develop and maintain business applications might not be familiar with BPM; they would truly appreciate BonitaSoft’s innovative approach of allowing users to build process-based web applications graphically.
DI: Would you like to talk about your “BPM” product.
MVF: Our flagship product is Bonita Open Solution, a fully functional open source BPM solution that designs, simulates and automates processes. Bonita Open Solution allows businesses to easily turn their processes into business applications. Bonita Open Solution is a comprehensive and scalable BPM solution that includes three main components: a process studio, an execution engine and a web user experience.
The Bonita Studio provides an easy-to-use graphical environment, configurable for different types of users, based on drag-and-drop components and using the Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) standard. It allows for the definition of business processes without writing any code and covers end-user web application generation and smart information system connectivity. It encompasses several other features like data integration, reporting and importing of existing business processes. When ready to design processes, the resulting application can deployed in “one click” in local or server mode on any Java-enabled machine.
Bonita Open Solution comes with a generic and extensible engine to integrate new services or standards that may emerge in BPM. The Bonita Execution Engine is flexible enough to adapt easily to any information systems architecture, from simple to complex. And it's powerful enough to support intensive workloads, on-premise or in the cloud. Bonita Execution engine is based on a unique technology that not only allows deployment as a centralized or distributed BPM server but also embedding into a BPM application.
The Bonita User Experience is a flexible, configurable and standard-based production environment that allows for easy integration of Bonita generated applications into the customer’s information system. Key features include an email-like interface to make it easy for users to manage their tasks, and process monitoring that shows an overview of all processes and cases involved, incorporating data from all users.
DI: Can you give us some examples of how your customers are using your software?
MVF: Here’s one example: A well-known European e-invoicing company recently deployed the full Bonita Open Solution (BOS) suite to support their invoicing automation system. This company handles millions of invoices from a customer base of over 2,000 in a given year, which understandably consumes a large number of valuable man-hours for their clients. They opted to deploy Bonita to free up labor time for their clients’ employees and automate the tedious and time-consuming process of manually processing invoices. The installation process for this deployment, which will be processing massive amounts of data, took just under two days. In three weeks, we had fully deployed BOS to their custom specifications.
DI: What is the process if someone wants to evaluate your solutions?
MVF: Everything starts with downloading the open source product from the BonitaSoft website. No need to ask for an evaluation version -- the complete and fully functional open source product is available to download. Just after downloading, the user can just install it locally using one of the native graphical installers available (Mac, Windows or Linux).
After that it’s best to start by reading the Quick Start guide to learn how to design your first process and turn it into a running application. During this process, users can also ask questions and get feedback from the community forums.
A pilot project would typically take between one and five days, and could involve just a single person with either basic or no Java skills. BonitaSoft offers several programs that are designed to help project teams ramp up and improve their productivity. Service offerings include a subscription pack that proposes professional technical support and maintenance as well as additional productivity-oriented features on top of Bonita Open Solution. A range of public and on-site training and consulting services are also available worldwide.
DI: What can we expect to see from BonitaSoft in the coming months?
MVF: At the end of January we announced the newest version of Bonita Open Solution, 5.4 which focused on usability features and multi-environment deployment, including public and private cloud deployments. The next version of the platform will include support for “big data.” The team is developing advanced data management capabilities that will simplify the way users work with structured and unstructured data in processes and how that data is leveraged in process-based applications.
Transparency is one of BonitaSoft’s core values. We offer our roadmap to our community of users, partners and customers so they can have real-time updates and provide feedback through our online roadmap tool.
Miguel Valdés-Faura, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder. Miguel is leading BonitaSoft to achieve its mission: to bring to the market a fully functional Open Source BPM solution. Miguel is the co-founder of Bonita project, created in 2001, with the vision that BPM would become mainstream in every company's IT portfolio. Prior to BonitaSoft, Miguel was leading BPM R&D, pre-sales and support activity for Bull. He brings to BonitaSoft a strong knowledge of open source communities and open source business models.
Miguel holds a degree in Computer Science from the URV (Spain) and a Master's degree from Nancy and Metz Universities (France).