A wise person once said “success requires change.” Customers seeking even greater success from their Compiere software, asked us to make changes—and we did. This month we introduced a new software delivery vehicle called “Service Packs.” Service Packs are a highly visible example of the kinds of changes we are making to improve customer success with Compiere.
“Deliver Frequent, Well-tested Improvements Without Requiring a Major Upgrade”
The most common request we’ve heard recently is as old as enterprise application software itself – deliver frequent, well tested fixes to Compiere software without introducing major new functionality at the same time. New functionality, which may require additional user training and other deployment effort, should be packaged and distributed separately.
Service Packs, introduced in August 2007, are our response to this important request. Service packs enable customers to safely apply bug fixes to their production Compiere systems without requiring a functional upgrade to the next release. A Service Pack consists of full source code, binary build, release notes and installation documentation. Service Packs go through a full regression test before release.
Service Packs are the second form of software release from Compiere, joining the “Stable Release.” The first Stable Release of Compiere was made available in 2001. Since that time, the software has been downloaded over 1.25 million times and used in production by businesses around the globe. Stable Releases are broadly distributed and include both new functionality and quality improvements. Factors including business needs, technology changes and the magnitude of enhancements determine the specific contents and timing of Stable Releases. Compiere 2.6.1, the current Stable Release, shipped in May 2007.
Service Packs, which are a fee-based service from Compiere, enhance the ability of our customers and Authorized Partners to maintain a stable, supportable production environment. Compiere makes significant investments to produce both Service Packs and Stable Releases. As such, the contents of Service Packs and Stable Releases are first available to customers with a Compiere Support Subscription. However, others still benefit from this investment at a later date, when Compiere distributes the Stable Release through SourceForge.
“Don’t Stop Innovating”
Service Packs address supportability, not innovation. Compiere remains committed to adding new capabilities, improving usability and increasing the business value from Compiere solutions. Major innovations are typically delivered through a Stable Release. Importantly, all cumulative Service Pack fixes are incorporated into the next Stable Release.
Simultaneously delivering rapid fixes, supportability and product innovation requires additional investments in people, processes and technology. Compiere’s success in attracting and serving customers has enabled higher levels of investment on product innovations.
“Remain Open Source”
Compiere Stable Releases and Service Packs are both distributed under an OSI-approved open source license: GPL Version 2. This means that organizations using Stable Releases and Service Packs have full access to the source code. They have all of the rights and responsibilities that are associated with open source software.
In embracing Service Packs, Compiere ended one rather common practice of many (but not all) open source projects: providing immediate access to unstable builds and source code through “Daily Builds.” The Daily Builds had the disadvantage of introducing data model and dictionary changes, functional changes and code instability from day to day. Service packs provide a more stable way to deliver documented and well tested bug fixes on a regular basis. Service Packs also makes it easier for Compiere to incorporate contributions from the community.
Unprecedented Value and Supportability
In conclusion, Service Packs are a step forward by Compiere towards improving stability and supportability for the large class of customers who want vendor support for their business-critical ERP solutions. They are not a step away from open source licensing for the highly successful Compiere ERP project. Compiere’s practice of providing enhanced availability and superior services to companies who pay a nominal fee for our services is standard practice for commercial open source companies. We are proud to be able to offer these capabilities and services at a small fraction of the cost of proprietary vendors. For those companies that choose to pay nothing to Compiere for support, they may still benefit from Compiere’s investments - but with some delay in availability.