Australian Wine Making Company Embraces Open Source

Tuesday, August 9, 2005 | News | Open Source

As the CIO of Australian wine making company De Bortoli Wines, Bill Robertson has taken the bold step of introducing a number of different open source software projects, including Open Office, Linux and TYPO3.

As the CIO of Australian wine making company De Bortoli Wines, Bill Robertson has taken the bold step of introducing a number of different open source software projects, including Open Office, Linux and TYPO3.

We caught up with Bill to find out a little bit more about how one of Australia's largest privately owned wine companies came to embrace open source software as eagerly as it has...

Hi Bill, thank you for taking the time to talk to us today, I'd like to start by asking about why you chose to adopt open source solutions at De Bortoli?

As a company, our approach has been about implementing open standards wherever possible & practical to do so.  Additionally we also aim to provide a flexible and adaptable infrastructure environment.

Anyway, It just so happens that we have often found using open source software the "path of least resistance" toward implementing open standards.

Note that we still happily run much proprietary software (as long as it "plays nicely" in our environment).

An example of this is our Lotus Domino based email.  Our Domino server is running on Linux, & many of our email clients are using the browser based "Domino web access" email client with the Mozilla & Mozilla Firefox browsers.

Another example is our Mfg/Pro ERP system.  Its currently running on a HP Unix server with a Linux migration planned for the longer term. The client access is provided by SSH & telnet from our Windows & Linux desktops.

There are a number of established and professional level open source Content Management Systems (CMS) available, so what prompted your decision to use TYPO3?

Some of the main advantages we found with TYPO3 include the flexibility provided by adopting a CMF configured to operate as a CMS.  By that I mean that TYPO3 is effectively just set of core Enterprise class services, such as granular security, with additional functionality provided by the 900 or so available plugins (called extensions in TYPO3 speak).

We were also impressed with the large amounts of quality documentation available in multiple formats (OpenOffice, pdf, video) and languages.

In general, TYPO3 met all of our following main requirements:

  • flexibility (> 900's of extensions available)
  • supportability (several Aust support & training options available)
  • standards based (LAMP)
  • professional (large amounts of documentation & videos availableonline)
  • granular security
  • usable by our end users    (eg the "backend" user can opt for "view" mode which is quite WYSIWYG)
  • well designed (the extensions process imposes structured "framework" approach)
  • content version control

TYPO3 also met our optional "nice to have" requirements:

  • Document workflow 
  • LDAP support
  • Webstats extensions
  • OpenOffice support
  • Internal search engine (with OOo & pdf support, & stats)
  • PDF "thumb-nailing"

Did you consider any other open source CMS's before settling on TYPO3?

We researched many other CMS products, and we trialled the following products:

  • Zope + Plone (installed onsite & tested)
  • TikiWiki (installed onsite & tested)
  • JBoss + Nukes (installed onsite & tested)
  • Apache Lenya (online demo)
  • OpenCMS (installed onsite & tested)
  • Mambo (installed onsite & tested)
  • EZ publish (online demo)
  • Drupal (online demo)

The following were also considered but not reviewed for various reasons:

  • MySource
  • Midguard
  • eXo

In general, we found some very good products out there, but we found TYPO3's CMF approach to be the one that suited our needs the best.

You might note a couple of points here for all the research and testing that we did:1/ Open source makes it possible to thoroughly evaluate & test software options 2/ You need to commit resources to evaluating properly if you want to get it right!


Many open source projects suffer from the lack of documentation, what do you think the release of an
English book will to do TYPO3 and its users?

I couldn't agree more. The release of professional documentation is critical to the success of open source in the enterprise. It not only helps in the obvious practical terms having published documentation, it also helps create the mindset that a product has "come of age".  We also find it much easier to "sell" a product internally if there is something physical & tangible like a printed book available for presentations and training. Our hosting company is also considering providing copies of the TYPO3 book to their premium customers for these reasons.

Australia appears to be a country embracing and encouraging the use of open source software, what is the open source support network like in Australia?   

Interesting observation. I actually thought that South America, India, Asia and Europe were leading the charge, though there is certainly some activity being generated by several of Australia's state governments. We have found the open source support network to be excellent, but you do have to take the time and effort to research available support & develop the required contacts.

Are you considering introducing further open source solutions at De Bortoli?

We have been applying open standards for nearly a decade, and have been actively implementing open source for half a decade.  As such, we now have quite a bit of open source software in production (cohabiting with a lot of proprietary software).

Here is a list of the open source client software we have in use.

Note that most of the software in this list are implemented on both Windows & Linux clients to provide a SOE (Standard Operating Environment) feel regardless of the client type.

OpenOffice.org:
Office Productivity

GNU/Linux:
Operating system

KDE & GNOME:
Window Managers for Linux

Mozilla & Mozilla Firefox:
Web Browsers (features tabbed browsing & greater security)

The GIMP:
Image manipulation

InkScape:
Vector Image manipulation

Scribus:
Desktop Publishing

Filezilla:
FTP (File transfer) client

GanttProject:
Simple Project Management via Gantt Charts Ghostscript / ps2pdf:PostScript and PDF conversion utilities

SciTE:
Programmers text editor

JEdit & VIM:
Programmers editors

OpenSSH &"putty" clients:
Secure (encrypted) replacement for telnet

Pine:
Character email client

Also, here is a list of some of the open source software we are using on our servers:

Again, much of this software cohabits with proprietary software such as HP-UX Unix.

GNU/Linux:
Operating system ("Unix" style OS predominantly for Intel hardware)

SAMBA:
SMB server (for connecting Windows PC to a Linux server) VNC, TightVNC & xf4vnc:Screen remote control for technical support & training (using VNC protocol)

Apache:
HTTP Web server

Typo3:
Web based CMS (Content Management System - for building intranets &extranets)
For more information: http://www.debortoli.com.au/239.0.html

Republic:
Text to OpenOffice "Calc" spreadsheet generator

MRTG:
Network monitoring & Graphing utility

webmin:
Web interfaced systems management utility

rsync:
Data synchronisation utility (only copies modified data & merges changes)

OpenSSH server:
Secure (encrypted) enhancement of telnet Ghostscript / ps2pdf:PostScript and PDF conversion utilities

MySQL:
Database Server

PostgreSQL:
Database Server

We are also currently trialling various LDAP server options:

OpenLDAP:
LDAP directory service

Fedora Directory Services:
LDAP directory service

Thanks for your time Bill

No problem.

De Bortoli Wines is owned by the De Bortoli family and is one of the largest privately owned companies in Australia. From its vineyards in premium wine growing regions De Bortoli makes a wide range of award winning wines including red and white table wines, sparkling wines, fortified wines and the world acclaimed sweet white Noble One.

De Bortoli Wines was established in 1928 by Vittorio & Giuseppina De Bortoli and rapidly expanded under the direction of their dyamic son, the late Deen De Bortoli. Today the company is in the capable hands of the third generation. The family history is documented in a book called Celebrazione! launched in 2003 to celebrate De Bortoli Wines' 75th Anniversary.

For more information about De Bortoli, please visit www.debortoli.com.au 

 


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