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April - 2013 issue > Company Spotlight

Liferay: A One Stop Platform for Enterprises

Vishwas Nair
Monday, April 1, 2013
Vishwas Nair
Many technologies receive a lot of hype today—Big Data, Social, Mobile and Cloud, for example—but to deliver value they must help real users solve problems by connecting them to the right applications, content, and people. This is also the core value proposition of what is now a familiar technology: enterprise portals. Liferay, an open source company started in 2004, has taken that vision to heart and focused on bringing the best modern enterprise portal to the market. With partners and clients across the globe, Liferay seems to be succeeding so far. By incorporating the latest technologies into its robust enterprise portal platform, the company is a strategic partner to many enterprises using Liferay to help solve the challenges they face in a quickly moving market. With a standards-based Java architecture, Liferay gives enterprises a solid platform for building custom websites, social intranets, and modern applications. 80 percent of the functionality needed is already there, including content management, collaboration, mobile, social and cloud support, freeing customers to focus on their key business requirements and differentiators. Clearly a leader in its space, Liferay Portal has been used by many big names in various industries and recognized by analysts like Gartner.

Highly Specialized Solutions

The Liferay platform allows customers to build anything from a public facing website or social network, to a social intranet or a self-service portal. Whatever the use case, companies can build highly specialized applications that leverage Liferay's core portal, content management and social collaboration capabilities. User management, security, site management, and standards support are all built in. The product is architected to be easy to customize in a way that's maintainable long-term, making it popular with enterprise IT and systems integrators. For some situations, Liferay can even be used by business end users to create a website without knowing how to write code. Since the portal also allows users to connect with each other as on social networks, and to use blogs, message boards, and wikis to work collaboratively, applications built using Liferay tend to see high end user adoption and success after launch into production.

One customer, Cisco, uses Liferay's platform as a social community for third party developers creating advanced solutions built on Cisco hardware. This allows developers to build up informal knowledge, assist each other in solving technical problems, but mostly importantly drives revenue for Cisco as more of its products are sold by those who become value-added resellers more quickly. Unlike other social software solutions, the fact that Liferay is a platform allows the network equipment leader to integrate the community with its back end systems for a deeper, richer social experience that also drives key business priorities (such as increasing resellers and revenue).

Liferay is also suitable for sophisticated web experiences, another key trend in the market. Today's consumers are growing accustomed to rich, personalized online interactions, and companies need to keep up with those expectations. One organization who used Liferay to meet those expectations is Sesame Workshop, behind the well-known Sesame Street franchise. The portal platform drives SesameStreet.com, a dynamic, personal, and interactive web experience that remains faithful to the high quality families have come to expect from the Sesame Street brand. Kids are able to create accounts to select their favorite games and videos throughout the site. The high-quality Flash video content is streamed using content delivery network integration. The With over 1 million visitors a month, Liferay's enterprise-grade performance is vital to a smooth experience.

A Community Effort

Of course, it only makes sense that Liferay also uses its own software for its own business. Liferay's developer community is built using Liferay software, providing tools like message boards, wikis, and blogs, integration with JIRA and GIT, and other social features to facilitate collaboration between the company and its global community of developers, partners and customers. The community helps the company identify improvements, innovate new features, or fix bugs in exchange for an open source license to the software. Anyone interested in participating just needs to download the product and look through the source and documentation to get started.

For enterprises using the portal in business-critical scenarios, the company provides an enterprise subscription with support, updates, and hot-fix issue resolution. The company and some of its partners also provide beginning and advanced developer training. Thanks to the popularity of Liferay's enterprise subscription, the company has grown into a global company with offices in the U.S., Brazil, Spain, Germany, France, the UK, China, Japan, and India.

"Liferay is one of the most cost-efficient, flexible platforms companies can use for building an application today. The platform is designed to help teams create agile, rapid iterations on a given project, ensuring that it meets requirements. And our engineering team is always adding new capabilities at a very quick pace. Hence when people make an investment on the Liferay platform, they will continue to get more value over time," says Bryan Cheung, Co-founder & CEO of Liferay.

Looking into the Future

With all the success of its core platform, Liferay is looking to expand its impact by simplifying the process of developing, buying and selling enterprise software. Borrowing lessons from consumer app stores, the company has created the Liferay Marketplace, an app store for the Liferay platform with enterprise-quality applications and plug-ins built by Liferay's community of developers and partners. Business process management, communication, and learning management applications are all in the pipeline, and some developers have already uploaded extensions that add new capabilities to the core Liferay offering.

Liferay is also thinking about how its impact can be felt beyond the enterprise software market. With a commitment to grow the business ethically, responsibly and sustainably, the company has managed to constantly grow in revenue while remaining an independent company, without external funding or plans to go public. This allows Liferay to support various non-profit organizations and disaster relief initiatives, as well as to use its business and technology as catalysts for economic development in difficult geographies. Of course, this also makes business sense. "When technology grows at an alarming rate, it is the human touch to a business that makes the difference, and our customers see that," says Cheung. "Being able to impact people’s lives—whether its our customers or those that are dealing with hardship and loss—that’s what ultimately matters, and it’s the reason why we exist."
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