javivazquez at Zentyal

Entries Tagged as 'foundations'

Contribute by self interest

September 1st, 2010 · 2 Comments

As you already know, eBox has changed its name to Zentyal, so eBox Platform Zentyal 2.0 is just around the corner. Actually, after Lenovo announced a couple of days ago its eBox game console name, we all have re-agreed that the name change was a (very) good idea :-)

As you are very well informed on our new name nature and meaning (even on the pronunciation ;) ), I would like to highlight other shift announced by our CEO -Nacho Correas- a few days ago: the opening up of the eBox Zentyal development.

Nacho referred to the new Localization Teams (or i18n, internationalization), a big success given the number of volunteers already gathered, and I want to talk about the development itself.

First of all, let me make clear that it is not that the development of eBox Platform has been closed from the beginning. The project is GPL since 2005 and the community has helped a lot in its evolution, mainly with feedback, testing and i18n. However, although there was a pretty good documentation for developing new modules, only a couple of guys from the community offered themselves to start coding (nothing happened though).

I know, we are a privately funded company, eBox Zentyal is not a foundation and the company is investing time and money with the idea of getting that amount N times in the future. Why anyone should collaborate in making us “rich”?

Well, actually, as you know, money is not the only issue we human beings care of. Moreover, there a lot of good articles out there explaining our reasons to collaborate and contribute to, e.g., open source projects, even when they are ruled by a private company. For this post, I just want to talk about one of them: self-interest.

The good thing of open source products is that anyone can download your software and build a new product, or just offer services on top of it. Honestly, we do it with Ubuntu Server and a bunch of open source modules, so we understand and support that others do it with eBox Zentyal as well. Open source is a source of innovation and business, it is good by itself.

Having said that, there are more than 3,600 members currently registered in our forum. Additionally, at least other 100 companies worldwide are offering services around eBox Zentyal. Even more, there are many public and private organizations customizing eBox Zentyal Server for their own needs.

So, the good news is that we are more open than ever to accept your contribution, share the IP and take care of it for your self interest, whether:

* You are a student who wants to get introduced in the open source world and, who knows, make a living of it…

* Your company is selling eBox Zentyal with some new small/big new modules, but you are busy enough giving services to invest more time in maintenance and evolution…

* Your organization is customizing eBox Zentyal for hundreds/thousand of schools/councils and, glup, it is going to be a mess to merge it with our new brand new version…

Then, be brave and start/continue developing the Zentyal module you always wanted to have, inside our community.

Contribute, we will be keen of helping and supporting you to do so, by self mutual interest.

Tags: community · foundations

Growing portfolio: data backup and VoIP

February 23rd, 2010 · No Comments

Much time has gone since my last post, being the release of eBox Platform 1.4 and our (since yesterday) on-line store two of the latest and most interesting news.

eBox Platform 1.4 release has been a great step forward, more than 20.000 downloads in less than a couple of weeks are a clear evidence of the interest arisen. The huge increase of visits to our websites, partnership and support requests are the outcome.

On the other hand, our on-line store is bundled with the release of 2 new products we have been testing for the last 2 months: eBox  backup storage and eBox VoIP cheap calls.

As a consequence, eBox portfolio has growth and gained visibility, we are selling directly to our installed base and to and through our partner network.

First, we are offering directly to eBox’s users:

  1. Technical support, one-time eBox support and safe migration from 1.2 to 1.4 support.
  2. Subscription services, such as eBox backup storage, eBox VoIP prepaid credit and eBox Control Center.
  3. Our first book “eBox for network administrators”! (only in Spanish currently though)

Tech support offered directly to eBox’s installed base is two fold: on the hand, helping SOHO users to solve punctual issues and doubts; on the other hand, assist companies on real-time to migrate from the good 1.2 to the great 1.4.

eBox backup storage is for those SOHO and SMEs which desire to keep their data safe off-site at a low price, and eBox VoIP is for those interested in making  abroad and international calls at very cheap rates, from their desktop using a softphone.

eBox Control Center gives the possibility to those companies with a number of deployments (e.g. several branches) the ability to monitor and administer their eBox Platform servers from a simple web interface.

Secondly, we are offering to and through our partners network:

  1. To our partners: certified training, 3rd level technical support and eBox Control Center subscriptions.
  2. Through our partners to their clients: eBox backup storage and eBox VoIP credit.

The certified training warranties both the partner and his customers a quality service by a qualified technician. 3rd level technical support brings them eBox developers on when required (issues, complex configurations). eBox Control Center provides our partners with a web easy-to-use and simple tool to monitor and administer their eBox Platform deployments.

eBox backup storage and VoIP credit grants our partners a recurrent revenue, while growing their portfolio within a win-win relation.

Our portfolio will include new SaaS products bundled to eBox Platform, but in the meanwhile we have tailored an offering for every eBox user, whether big or small. Compelling enough?

Tags: foundations

eBox as a Platform

September 25th, 2009 · No Comments

Being eBox Platform the main product of our company, the title of this post could be just a nice play on words…

However, reading on the open source and business model debate, from Stephen Walli‘s to Mat Assay’s blogs, I believe I got to something interesting around eBox Platform as a platform, despite of (please forgive) the repetition.

From the latter, Mat Assay’s “Product management goes open source”:

[...] We were so busy marketing our vision that we almost missed listening to our users’ vision(s) [...]

[...] open-source companies, if they listen to their users, are well-positioned to build platforms that can become the lifeblood of enterprise IT [...]

If you ask me which is the eBox’s vision, I would speak about our perspective instead: eBox Technologies and eBox Platform desire to be for Linux in the server, what Canonical and Ubuntu have been for Linux in the desktop.

And the key point is: how are we building it?… Listening to our users and clients (our partners), so supporting them to develop their business using eBox as a Platform.

Not by chance, eBox Technologies is a 100% partner-focused company. Not by chance, our partner program puts the stress on flexibility, strongly encouraging our partners to develop their own value on top of eBox, even building eBox based products to be re-branded. Mixed, combined or pure, but always flexible.

Whether a mini data-center, a security/VPN appliance, or a micro home sever; eBox is being customized and combined to fit in every hole… Because marketing such a horizontal product would be much difficult without partners which struggle for their picked niches with self adapted tools.

It’s not a new business model neither a brand new strategy, but just a(nother) way to explain Ebox’s perspective.

Paraphrasing both Stephen and Matt blogs, I feel like “in the open road, once more unto the breach”.

Tags: foundations

Business model

June 27th, 2009 · No Comments

I remember my days working for a free software services company, where people asked once and again: “how do you make money from open source?”. The answer was simple: “We sell time (hours), like lawyers do”.

Obviously, it’s not that easy, but it worked.

From a open source product company, such eBox Technologies Zentyal is, the answer is also short, but it needs a longer explanation: “We combine open source with SaaS”.

eBox Technologies Zentyal is a 100% channel focused company, say, we sell through our global partner network: VARs (Value Added Resellers) and MSPs (Managed Services Providers).

We offer to those IT companies the technology and services to fulfill their customers’ computer networks needs.

On the one hand, the support and training services for efficiently deploying and administering any network service that a SMB requires. eBox Platform Zentyal Server, Linux small business server (SBS), rules them all: Gateway, UTM, Infrastucture, Office and Unified Communications Server. It’s open source and it’s free.

On the other hand, a fault-tolerant solution to administer and monitor eBox Platform installations from a single interface. eBox Control Center Zentyal Cloud is SaaS, web based and from the cloud.

In summary, eBox Technologies targets the SMB market through a global partner network formed by VARs and MSPs, offering them an open source unified network server -eBox Platform Zentyal Server- and the SaaS technology to efficiently manage it -eBox Control Center Zentyal Cloud- .

It’s a business model designed for growth and world domination.

Tags: foundations

Teleworking: tickets, tasks, whatever

May 8th, 2009 · No Comments

During the just on Wednesday finished Innovate! Europe hold in Zaragoza, we have enjoyed a couple of days with excellent and experienced people from the IT world, and also raise in our own confidence on eBox as a promising and attractive company.

Not by chance, eBox was selected within the top ten finalists among the >100 initial applicants and the 34 finalists that came to Zaragoza from the whole Europe. Moreover, our company was the only Spanish in that 10 most promising European start-ups group.

However, despite of the many interesting lessons and good advise I personally gathered, I first would like to share one not really that important, but that caught my attention and suggest me to continue with the posts dedicated (more or less intentionally) our foundations as a company. That was working from “home”, or teleworking.

This small lesson, it is referred to coordination among staff who works from anywhere, mostly not together. In our case, we are 11 eleven guys working mainly from Zaragoza, but actually: 2 are based in Ireland and the rest of us work very often from home or any other cities.

In my case, I like going to the office every day, but also I work at least 7-10 days each month from Vigo (my original city, in Galicia), Madrid, Barcelona or any other place I go to visit my family and friends, or just as a tourist. And I am probably one of the guys who are more often working from our HQ…

On the one hand, this situation is something we like and look for: eBox staff is encouraged to work from wherever they want and when they like to. We don’t have fixed time schedules or any obligation to go to the office. On the other hand, it raises some issues: it needs an extra effort to be well coordinated.

Reaching to the point, Marten Mickos pointed out on his talk at Innovate that 70% of his former company MySQL still works from home. 70% of 400 guys of from >40 cities worldwide, with different time zones and the like. And the 2 main things he cited to keep this working, IMO, were:

  • Pick people who like working mainly alone, from home. Kind of lone wolfs.
  • Reporting, reporting and reporting, with objectives clearly set for every single people in the company.

Here at eBox we rely on tickets (tasks, whatever) and wiki to keep high the coordination among us, being Redmine the  tool selected for it. Some people don’t like that much planning and being accountable for achieving objectives, but what’s more fair and efficient that let guys planning themselves as far as the global objectives of the company are reached?

In a company that pretends to be global by nature as it was MySQL, MySQL itself is the best example to follow regarding work organization.

Tags: foundations