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Case Study-“We use open source technologies for agility, flexibility and affordability”

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Amar Vir

Amar Vir, executive director, Imagination Learning Systems Pvt Ltd

Think of a domain where technology is being used and you will find open source leading from front. We, at Open Source For You, are trying to explore the possibilities of open source technology in various domains for many years now. Trust us, we are always amazed to see how open source technology has paved its way into the present and the future.

Education is one sector where open source technology is always expected to be. While our research, we thought of checking one of such organisations that work in the higher education domain and works on open source. We came across Imagination Learning Systems Pvt Ltd, a company working in education technology. Diksha P. Gupta spoke to Amar Vir, executive director, Imagination Learning Systems Pvt Ltd, on how the company used open source technology as its base. Excerpts:

Q. What is your company all about and what role has technology to play in day to day operations of the company?

Imagination Learning Systems Pvt Ltd (ILS) is a focussed, niche and domain specific product company in EdTech for Higher Ed process automation domain. ILS is pioneering the HEdRP/ EdRP (ERP for Higher Education) space in India through our Product Suite called IL 2.0 and IL 3.0. Technology, and precisely open source technology, is the base of everything we do.

Q. What all are the areas where you have deployed open source technology? 

We use open source technology almost everywhere we can. Our solution development platforms, solution development frameworks, front end, system software (Application Server Platform and Database/RDBMS Platform), server operating system, reporting and third party tools integration are based on Open Source technology.

Q. Why did you choose open source technology over proprietary solutions?

A lot of reasons have been our decision-making drivers when we decided on the current architecture based on open platforms. We had a passionate team aligned with the open source mission and ‘Default to open source’ mentality. Along with these, there are a few more reasons including

Agility – Open systems provide multiple ways to solve a problem. Instead of tying up with one vendor to solve a problem, we get control of building it ourselves, if not available.

Quick – If have to solve a problem or require an add-on functionality, we can quickly work with community edition and get going on it, instead of getting into the buying and licensing processes.

Cost – We deal with the education Sector, which is mostly funded by government or societies. Cost plays a major role in their decision making process. Through our Product and solution offerings, we can provide everything out-of-the-box, bailing out customers from getting into the hassles of multi vendor licenses and cost parameters.

Futuristic technologies like Web, mobile and cloud – Most of the open source platform are already there, while proprietary systems are catching up.

Q. When did your tryst with open source technology begin and what aspects of the technology influence you to make it your base?

We are working on open systems since 2006. The reasons, as I said, were the agility, flexibility and affordability, that influenced us to go for open systems.

Q. Was your company open to adopt open source solutions? If no, what kind of struggle did you face?

Yes, we were always open to adopt open solutions. In this cost competitive market, who would not go for a cost-friendly yet effective solution!

Q. Have you deployed open source technology in your company at the end user level too? If yes, please elaborate?

Yes, all our PCs and Server Operating Systems are based on Linux. In fact, we use Open Office for Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Presentations. Our email clients are also open source.

Q. What do you think is the scope of open source technology in the modern day ever-evolving technology world?

Its the future, as I said. Web, mobile, and cloud solutions are more and more being constructed predominantly on open source based platforms. Some tools, specifically around data and analytics problem solvers are only available in open tech. In times to come, designs and architectures will mostly be based on open tech. Mobile app solutions with the Android platform is a classic example. In Web domain, large number of websites are built on open technology. And when it comes to cloud, where almost all, with the exception of Microsoft’s cloud (and they are catching up), are based on open source solutions as well.

Q. Do you and your team contribute to open source tech too? If yes, please name the projects and share your reasons for being associated with those projects?

Our team contributes to the share- the maintenance of the solutions we use, generally doesn’t take part in development –but, if a problem is solved by us, we make sure we contribute back to the community. We work on projects like JAVA, Spring MVC, MySQL, Jquery, JSON, JasperSoft, Koha, Alfresco, BootStrap and many others.

Q. What are the newer areas of technology where you see scope for open source technology to grow further?

EdTech is our specialised area, so we see a lot of potential there. Outside of our domain, I feel ERP, Analytics and BI, RDBMS, Point automation solutions like DMS etc have great potential to grow in open tech arena.

Q. Do you reach out to the community for solutions in case you are stuck with any tech issue? if yes, please quote an incidence?

We do that all the time, specific instance being integrating our system with D-Space (an open source document management system) as we are contemplating making D-Space as our default DMS.