Sramana: At that time was Bonita owned by the research lab?
Miguel Valdés-Faura: Yes. Bonita was software that was owned by the lab, but it was using an open source licensing model. We would allow it to be embedded in commercial solutions as well.
Sramana: What happened next?
Miguel Valdés-Faura: After two years, I thought it was the right time to transfer the technology to industry. When you are working in a research facility, sometimes you can get a bit far away from industry requirements. We had different companies interested in implementing Bonita into real projects.
One of those companies was a French integrator, Bull, that was a hardware manufacturer and services company. They had specialized in implementing open source solutions into customers. I decided to move to Bull, and the lab was very happy because transferring technology to industry was part of their mission. I stayed at Bull from 2003 to 2009 until I founded BonitaSoft.
During my time at Bull, I learned everything about this market. Initially I was the head of the open source BPM department and later I was head of the BPM division. I ultimately took responsibility of the entire BPM business. During this time I kept a close eye on what other people were doing in the BPM space. I watched Oracle, IBM, and Tibco, along with others. I am thankful to Bull because they taught me how to do everything that I have put into practice today.
Sramana: You essentially worked in the lab to build Bonita and then followed the software to a position in Bull. After that you ended up founding a new company, BonitaSoft, based on the original work you started at the research lab and had continued through your time at Bull.
Miguel Valdés-Faura: Exactly. I moved from the lab to Bull, and that was easy because it was an open source technology. At that time some of the IP was owned by Bull and some was owned by the research lab, but the core pieces were open source.
Sramana: When you went to Bull, you basically just kept building on top of the open source technology that was already out there.
Miguel Valdés-Faura: Exactly. The research lab was very happy with that because I was the project leader, and they wanted a project leader to be working for industry versus the lab because the commercial marketplace would rather adopt a technology that had a commercial project lead.
Sramana: What was the size of the open source community around the Bonita project?
Miguel Valdés-Faura: When I left Bull in 2009 to start BonitaSoft, the Bonita community had around 300 active contributors. That included developers, individuals contributing to the community of forums, and people translating the product to other languages. The project had been downloaded approximately 100,000 times by that point. During my time with Bull, we had done approximately 40 major implementations.