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Kolab: Bringing All Of Us Together, Part 1


Kolab: Bringing All Of Us Together, Part 1

The new year is looming, so this seems like a good time to share some of what we are thinking about at Kolab Systems when it comes to the Kolab ecosystem. As a result of careful examination of the Kolab ecosystem, we put together some priority adjustments to make. These include:

  • Kolab release process improvements
  • kolab.org reboot
  • partner enablement

Each of these are big, exciting and fundamental improvements in their own right, so I will cover each in its own blog entry in which I will attempt to explain the challenges we see and what we are doing to address them. First up is the Kolab release process.

tl;dr

Kolab Enterprise as a software product is merging with the Kolab community edition. There will be a single Kolab software product open to all, because everyone needs Kolab, not only "enterprise" customers! Both the version selection and development process around Kolab will be substantially simplified as a direct result. Read on for the details!

Kolab Three Ways

Kolab currently comes in a few different "flavors": what you find in the source repositories and build servers; the Kolab Community Edition releases; and Kolab Enterprise. What is the difference?

Well, the code and raw package repos are essentially "server yourself": you download it, you put it together. Not so easy. The Community Edition releases are easy to install and were being released every six months, but support is left to community members and there is no long term release strategy for them. By contrast, you can purchase commercial support and services for Kolab Enterprise, and those releases are supported for a minimum of 5 years. The operating system platforms supported by each of these variants also varies, and moving between the Community Edition and Enterprise could at times be a bit of effort.

Yet they all come from the same source, with features and fixes flowed between them. However, the flow of those fixes and where features landed was not standardized. Sometimes features would land in Enterprise first and then debut in the Community Edition. Often it was the other way around. Where fixes would appear was similarly done on a case-by-case basis.

The complex relationship can be seen in the timeline below:

This has resulted duplication of effort, confusion over which edition to use when and where, and not enough predictability. We've been thinking about this situation quite deeply over the past months and have devised a plan that we feels improves the situation across the board.

A Better Plan Emerges

Starting in 2016 we will focus our efforts on a single Kolab product release that combines the Q/A of Kolab Enterprise with the availability of the Kolab community edition. Professional services and support, optimized operating system / platform integration and long term updates will all remain available from Kolab Systems, but everyone will be able to install and use the same Kolab packages.

It also means that both fixes and features will land in a consistent fashion. Development will be focused on the master branches of the Kolab source repositories, which have been hosted for a while now with Phabricator sporting open access to sprints and work boards. With our eyes and hands firmly on the main branches of the repositories, we will focus on bringing continuous delivery to them for increased quality.

Fixes and features alike will all flow into Kolab releases, bringing long desired predictability to that process, and Kolab Systems will continue to provide a minimum of 5 years of support for Kolab customers. This will also have the nice effect of making it easier for us to bring Kolab improvements live to Kolab Now.

These universal Kolab releases will be made available for all supported operating systems, including ones that the broader community elects to build packages for. This opens the way for the "enterprise-grade" Kolab packages on all operating systems, rather than "just" the community editions.

You can see how much clarity and simplicity this will bring to Kolab releases by comparing the diagram below with the previous one:

You can read more about Kolab release and development at Jeroen van Meeuwen's blog: The Evolution of Kolab Development and Short- vs. Long-term Commitments.

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