[CLUG-chat] Open source system for Medical Research Council

Dave Johnson davej at wsnet.co.za
Wed Jun 18 08:52:17 SAST 2003


The Open Source movement is gathering momentum internationally as
increasing numbers of people recognize that it is a reliable, adaptable
and cost effective method of providing software solutions.

The basic idea behind open source is very simple - when programmers can
read, modify and redistribute source code, the software evolves and
improves. Industry leaders including IBM, Oracle, Computer Associates,
Sun
Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard and Intel have put their weight behind
projects and are now advising customers to investigate and implement
solutions using this technology.<p>

Cape Town-based software development company Jam Warehouse has recently
released a new, Open Source enterprise document management system.
Called
KnowledgeTreeT, it is based on an application developed in collaboration
with listed systems integrator, CS Holdings for the Medical Research
Council of South Africa. The product builds on the company's experience
of
content and document management systems for clients like Independent
Newspapers South Africa and UK retail giant Tesco Stores Plc.  A Jam
Warehouse team can configure the system for specific organizational
requirements in a few weeks.
<p>
"The Medical Research Council is to be commended for their vision in
supporting South African software and aligning themselves with the
government's Open Source Strategy," said Dr John Thorne, Jam Warehouse
managing director. "We started off with a rather basic Open Source
solution. The MRC has funded its further development into an enterprise
document management system in order to manage their knowledge assets and
will benefit from future improvements introduced by other
organisations."
<p>
Some organisations are wary of Open Source products, but Jam Warehouse's
view is that careful project and quality procedures make these products
as
reliable as anything else in the market. "There is a misconception
particularly in the South African Market that open source technologies
are
inferior," says technical director Daniel Chalef. "In our experience if
one follows a rigorous development process with a focus on quality, open
source applications are as secure and scalable as those built on other
proprietary platforms. We have recently released large applications on
both Microsoft and open source platforms. Both environments have their
advantages."
<p>
The South African government has been investigating the use of Open
Source
software (OSS) for some time. It is believed that the state pays
billions
of rand in software licences per annum and, following the lead set by
amongst others the French and German governments, has articulated an
open
source strategy. This strategy states that 'opting for OSS will be
preferable where the direct advantages and disadvantages of OSS and
proprietary software are equally strong' and aims to create greater
efficiencies, save foreign currency, and stimulate SMME development and
innovation.
<p>
KnowledgeTree is able to run on most server platforms and is accessible
through a web browser. The application provides knowledge management
features including version control, full text search, multiple search
types and extensible metadata fields for documents. Some of the more
advanced functionality includes a customizable dashboard and workflow
for
document authoring. "Normally a product of this nature would be
extremely
expensive and would attract costly annual user licence fees. We provide
the software under the GNU public licence which means it is freely
downloadable from our website," said Thorne. "It is the perfect product
for the mid-sized organisation to start managing their knowledge
assets."
<p>
A Jam Warehouse and CS Holdings team will provide customization and
implementation assistance on a time and materials basis and having
developed the product, can provide support where required. The MRC
knowledge management division will offer guidance and learning points
for
organisations in the South African education sector wanting to use the
Knowledge Tree.
<p>
For further details, please contact John Thorne on john at jamwarehouse.com
or visit the company website at http://www.jamwarehouse.com







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