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An Interview with
Mr. Boris Kraft, CIO, Partner, Magnolia International Ltd.

August 13, 2007

One of the winners of the DevStart Best of 2006 Awards was the Magnolia Content Management System. It stood out by being the only Java-based CMS among the bunch of LAMP software in its category, and by employing a clean and simplistic design that gets the job done. We got the chance to ask Mr. Boris Kraft, CIO at Magnolia International Ltd., several questions about the CMS and the industry in general.


Editor: Let me begin by saying that during our testing Magnolia proved a pleasure to work with. But my first question is: Why Java?

Boris Kraft: Java is an amazingly powerful enterprise software platform. We love the fact that Magnolia can be run on any hardware that it should - PC servers, Mac, Linux or IBM mainframe machines.


E.: How would you describe the Magnolia project with one sentence?

B.K.:Magnolia is a leading commercial open-source Enterprise Content Management System based on the Java Content Repository standard (JSR-170). Magnolia is renowned for its outstanding combination of ease-of-use and enterprise architecture. It is used to power the digital communication of anyone from governments to leading FORTUNE 500 enterprises in more than 100 countries on all six continents of the world.


E.: Why did you decide to open source Magnolia CMS, and what licenses did you consider initially?

B.K.: We decided to open source Magnolia because we have worked with non open-sourced Content management systems before launching Magnolia, and found it rather cumbersome to achieve the goals of a systems integrator using proprietary software. We did not want to add yet another irrelevant proprietary software to an already overcrowded CMS market. In fact we wanted – and still want – to build the best content management system in the world. It was clear that this would not be possible alone.


E.:What is your intended user base? Is it an active one, in terms of giving back to the project?

B.K.:Our users are often very large corporations that understand the benefits the java platform provides. Magnolia can easily be clustered to handle very large loads, integrated into SSO environments, can provide content to JSR-168 portals or use web services to easily render information on your web site. So there is certainly a strong interest from the technically minded community, like your IT department. On the other hand, Magnolia's ease-of-use attracts many users on the department level. They can create their custom designed intranet using our innovative Sitedesigner and provide a ton of functionality to their users.
Our community is very active and of an outstanding quality. They are very supportive of each other and no-nonsense. To date, more than 10000 messages have been posted to our Magnolia user-list. Some of our contributors write excellent documentation or add functionality that significantly moves Magnolia forward. Even our commercial licensees love the fact that they can actively influence where Magnolia is heading - by providing bug reports, feature requests or functional add-ons.


E.:In your opinion, what distinguishes Magnolia -- both the CMS and the company, from the competition?

B.K.: Simplicity. Ease-of-use is our mantra, it is how we think, how we act, how we communicate, how we do projects, how we live. We try to keep things simple, and rather provide a simple to use API so that you can build custom extensions easily than overloading our product with a gazillion options. We adhere to standards because it results in simplicity for users, developers and administrators. We have a simple product philosophy (one commercial product that includes all modules) and a simple licensing mechanism (a yearly subscription, no upfront).
Our team is smart, motivated and dedicated. We know that what we do matters, and it matters to more and more people every passing day. Today, we are one of the top 30 Content Management vendors on the planet (according to CMS Watch), an achievement that makes us proud. It has made it clear to everybody that we can achieve what we want to achieve, which is very motivating.


E.: What are the benefits for companies that choose the enterprise edition of Magnolia?

B.K.: There are non-functional and functional differences. To list only the non-functional differences:

* Licensing
Magnolia Enterprise Edition is licensed as MVSL, a business-friendly license that grants you access to the source code and waives certain license requirements attached to the GPL'd Magnolia Community Edtion.

* Protection
Magnolia Enterprise Edition is a product. With it comes product liability and certain rights and guarantees for you - our valued costumer. The Community Edition is a project, not a product. As such, it comes with no consumer rights protection, no guarantees whatsoever and no liability.

* Indemnification
For Magnolia Enterprise Edition, Magnolia International Ltd. will replace any code found in court to be in violation of copyright.

* Support
Magnolia Enterprise Edition is professionally supported by Magnolia International Ltd., the creators of Magnolia. The Community Edition is unsupported. While you might find someone that "supports" the Community Edition, this someone will have no right to commit bug fixes back to Magnolia. In effect, you will have to maintain your own copy of the source code, which almost certainly is not what you want. If you need support, you need Magnolia Enterprise Edition.

* Certified Stack
We test combinations of hardware and software and guarantee that Magnolia Enterprise Edition is working on these certified systems.

* Migration Path
We make sure your data can be migrated between the releases of Magnolia Enterprise Edition and provide migration tools to do so.

In addition, many functional features of the Enterprise Edition are really targeted at Enterprises.


E.: Key Java implementations are now open sourced. A number of open source application servers are being actively developed and supported -- at documentation.magnolia.info there are instructions for running Magnolia on three different server platforms. Do you think that the active engagement of Java and related projects with the OSS community spells bright future for open source Java-based CMSs, and especially Magnolia?

B.K.: Of course! But Magnolia runs equally well on commercial application servers. We have no preference here. Magnolia today is not only following but defining what is happening in the "professional open source" space. It is a space that is interesting for application server providers as well, as can seen by the likes of JBoss or even IBM, who invest a lot into open-source application servers but still manage to turn this investment into a profit.


E.: In your blog at http://betterfasterbigger.blogspot.com/, you write about the different companies and approaches you went through in order to create Magnolia. With that experience in mind, what is your advice to people who are just starting as enterpreneurs in the software and web development fields?

B.K.: Don't forget to go sailing on weekends .

Magnolia v.3.0 administrative panel and default public site. Click for large version.

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