Sunday, June 13, 2010

Free software and business in Sardinia

jAPSOn June 10th and 11th I attended two interesting workshops, both related to the Italian Free Software conference, and both organized by private institutions that have expanded their boundaries and created two quite lively international events.

The first event was held near Pula, in an innovation laboratory encased in a beautiful forest. The Technological Park of Sardegna Ricerche is a place where research and business boil together to produce new companies and to help consolidate existing ones.
The workshop was titled A community for a new business model and it was a show case of a dozen companies, both local and from abroad. After the presentations and a lovely open air lunch, there were 1-to-1 20 minutes meetings between companies, to dive deeper in technologies, ideas, and friendships. I must say that I enjoyed the event, not only because my presentation on MySQL community and values was quite well received, but also because I met interesting people and found some new ideas that need further exploration.
The main event, the fourth Italian free software conference, was not as exciting. The organizers decided to paint the event with local colors only, thus making it less interesting for me, as my job takes me around more abroad than in my own country. Oh' well. It's the Italian conference after all, and it has the right of being an all-Italian show. IMO, it's a pity, though. Exposure to external ideas is often beneficial, and I would have welcomed at least some openness beyond the national boundaries.
Anyway, the show was rescued by another workshop, organized by a local company, which was not afraid of venturing in international waters. The company is named Tzente, which means People in Sardinian, and true to their name they brought to the event several international companies, with Italian and foreign speakers. Also this event was very lively and interesting.
The hosts (Tzente) are a company to keep an eye on. They produce an open source software, called Java Agile Portal System or jAPS for short. In spite of the name, jAPS is much more than a portal. It's an integrated and versatile system to automate companies and public organizations. Their business model is simple: give the components away for free, thus building a community of users and testers, and sell integration and customization services either directly or through partners. Compared to many other startups, Tzente has a distinct advantage over the competition. They have customers. Not only they produce an excellent open source product, but their monetization strategy has already brought them large customers in Italy and abroad. They have partnerships with well known names (among which MySQL, Pentaho, Ingres, Red Hat) and I think they are going to grow fast. Good job, Tzente!
A personal note. At the first workshop I did my presentation in English, and I felt very comfortable. At the second workshop, I did the same presentation in Italian. I had the feeling that the English version was more effective. Probably I am traveling too much.


Andrea said...

the italian version of your presentation was as good as the english one! ;)

Danilo said...

I don't know the english version, but the italian version was more weighty. :) thanks a lot