Liferay: A Portal and Content Management Platform
(8 pages of text)
Liferay, an enterprise portal and content management system, uses an open-source development model. Its flagship portal (also named Liferay) is distributed under a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) licence. This licence allows users to access, modify and distribute Liferay’s source code, and to re-license their derivative work. Open-source licencing has significant implications for Liferay’s adoption process. Organizations simply download the Liferay portal for free, try it out for different business requirements and engage the vendor for dedicated service-level agreements for more advanced usage support. Several developers and users outside Liferay participate in the software development process and make significant contributions. However, unrestricted access and liberal distribution norms allow other software organizations to make free use of Liferay’s efforts. These organizations slightly modify Liferay’s source code (particularly Liferay’s core system) and repackage the software. By 2010, this scenario has become particularly difficult. Liferay’s recent adoption of a platform strategy is based on preserving the uniformity and stability of the core system. Due to unconstrained modifications to the source code, the core system could soon become fractured and non-standardized. The CEO has to select a suitable licencing framework that will align with the newly adopted platform strategy but at the same time retain Liferay’s adherence to open source. Alternately, Liferay could abandon open source altogether.
This case provides practical insights into managing a software product. It will be relevant in MBA-level courses on technology entrepreneurship, management of technology products and the business of software. The case has four objectives. First, the case highlights differences between the open-source development model and the closed-source/proprietary development model. Second, the case describes the adoption of a platform strategy for a software product, which has been a topic of significant interest in the software industry. Third, the case explores different licencing choices for a software product (closed-source licencing, restrictive open-source licencing, permissive open-source licencing and hybrid licencing). It discusses the pros and the cons of each licencing choice. Lastly, the case explores the factors that influence the decision-making process in software licencing.
Information, Media & Telecommunications
United States, Small, 2010
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