Our Experience at DrupalCamp Montreal 2018

Savoir-faire Linux participated in the tenth edition of DrupalCamp Montréal, which was held this year at Concordia University. It was the occasion to catch up with a good proportion of the Drupal developer community in Montreal, to exchange ideas with other companies that work with this technology, and to have an overview of how Drupal is evolving with the times and what is in store for it next year.

Here are notes from some particularly interesting sessions, provided by our senior Drupal developer Maxime Turcotte:

Migrate one, Migrate all: Let’s migrate to Drupal 8

With all the advantages that Drupal 8 now offers compared to Drupal 7, particularly with respect to multilingual support, more and more sites are making the transition to the new version despite the occasional obstacle. For example, even though the migration system API has been stable since fairly recently, migrations for content translation are not yet fully supported.

In addition to providing an excellent overview of the migration process, both in general and for more in-depth personalized migrations, this presentation provided solutions and examples for those looking to migrate their multilingual sites from Drupal 7 to 8.

Hosting Drupal sites? You need Aegir!

Whether it’s for a single site or for an elaborate multi-site platform, if you like building your own infrastructure using Free Software tools and to manage your sites with a helpful web or CLI interface, Aegir is for you.

During this presentation, we learn about the historical reasons that brought about the development of Aegir, the architectural challenges it faces, some little bits of wisdom for commonly encountered issues, prospects for refactoring in future versions and much more.

What I learned in 10 years of running a Drupal shop

Operating a service-oriented Web business in a constantly-transforming competitive industry is quite difficult. What better than to benefit from the accumulated experiences of two professionals that have been working in the industry for over ten years?

“Everybody makes mistakes and there will always be more mistakes to make” was one of the big lessons from this presentation. Risk is certainly a necessary aspect to deal with when trying to succeed in this industry, but how you manage this risk is what can set the winners apart from the losers. Whether it’s in research and development, in the choice of contracts you accept or in the expenses you accept (or refuse) to make, you must be able to foresee what sort of risk is involved and if it’s worth dealing with.

But aside from risk and competition, collaboration and community involvement is what seems to be the most important thing for the two business leaders we heard from.

Toronto Magazine: Activities for February

This month Savoir-faire Linux celebrates its first 100 days in Toronto. By engaging with the community early on, we have demonstrated our commitment to the people of Ontario, and laid the foundation for open innovation to play a major role in the digitization of businesses and cities. And we’ve just started to pick up speed! Savoir-faire Linux invites everyone to join a critical conversation every week to improve productivity and accessibility.

Downtown Toronto skyline at night
Photo: Rick Harris via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Feb. 17: Odoo Meetup (the community-driven ERP)

Odoo Toronto MeetupMaxime Chambreuil, co-founder and Board member of the Odoo Community Association, is organizing a second session of this monthly meetup on open source Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). We are inviting everyone to consider joining this community. It’s an open group and everyone who valuable thoughts and/or knowledge to share about Odoo and ERPs is welcome to contribute.

Join and register now

Please check and register also our community website (http://odoo.ca) where you will find more information and resources about Odoo and the organizers.

Feb. 24: Toronto OpenStack Meetup

OpenStack Toronto LogoOpenStack is the gold standard for cloud computing. Jonathan Le Lous, VP Cloud Infrastructure and Business Development at Savoir-faire Linux, is a leader in the French OpenStack community and an active speaker and organizer in the Montreal OpenStack community. Rather than starting another group in Toronto we approached the local OpenStack community to revive their meetups, and Jonathan will talk this month about OpenStack deployments in Canada.

Join and register now

March 1st: Digital Accessibility in Ontario

march1st-logoAt this lunch & learn, we will hear Mike Gifford, official Drupal 8 Core Accessibility Maintainer, Founder and President of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, speak about Accessibility in Ontario. Accessibility is inherently the result of an open and inclusive ecosystem. Open Source technology — and Drupal in particular — provide great examples of community-driven projects improving accessibility.

Register now

Toronto Businesses are prime for Digitization

CN TowerThe Toronto area is becoming a top spot for tech innovation. While the IT sector is propelling industry transformation, business owners are still struggling to capture the benefits of digitizing their business. What are the IT trends that really matter? When is the right time to digitize processes? Which solutions fit the business best? How to best use technology to maximize your investment?

Business digitization boosts competitive edge

John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, working with the Tech community at TechTOFirst of all, we should rejoice that technological innovation is booming in Toronto, in Ontario, and Canada. John Tory’s speech at TechTO last week was all about supporting local start-ups — many of those among the 400 attendants at City Hall — and Cisco’s launch of its Innovation Centre. The week before, the Ministers of International Trade and Small Business and Tourism announced a new export program funded with $50 million.

Combined with a lower loonie, this initiative can help Canadian businesses gain a strong competitive edge. Southern Ontario is becoming a powerful tech corridor, very similar to the iconic Silicon Valley, from Kitchener-Waterloo through Toronto to Ottawa. The region ranks fourth behind California, New York, and Texas, in terms of finance and technology strength. At the same time, the latest report from Oxfam raises concerns about growing inequalities. The 62 richest individuals control as much wealth as the bottom half of the humanity. The wealth of the poorest dropped by 40% in the last five year, and the gap between the extremes keeps increasing: there were six times more people at the very top in 2010. Chances are small business owners fit closer to the bottom half.

Every company is a tech company

Small businesses are the strength of Canada, amounting for 98.2% of Canadian business (i.e. under 100 employees). They account for more than 25% of the country’s GDP, and more than 30% of R&D spending. Small businesses also employ close to 70% of the total private labour force. With such profile, it is clear that small businesses are at the root of business digitization and country digitization.

Cover picture of 'Bold', book authored by Peter Diamandis, on business digitizationToday, every company is a tech company. Every business leader needs to understand the opportunities described in books such as Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler’s Bold. Small businesses can indeed apply simple lessons immediately to stop paying too much in some areas, and to figure out where to start investing more. The barriers of entry in technology have never been lower. Now is the time to lead or to survive.

Let’s explore together, starting by sharing our experience with ERPs. Three years ago, Savoir-faire Linux migrated to Odoo, a Free/Open Source Software ERP. As far as I can see (as a standard user), it replaces expensive solutions from ORACLE and SAP that handle expenses and procurement, but it does much more than that. Odoo handles our accounting, invoicing, and hiring too.

A couple of weeks ago, I’ve been pulled seamlessly into a workflow to review a job candidate. The interface is beautiful and responsive, with a social component that allows teams to communicate effectively. It’s working well, and so we should be soon migrating more data from SugarCRM to Odoo. Yes, Odoo does CRM too!… and e-commerce, and much more. This comprehensive solution saves us a lot by avoiding duplication of records and saving time.

Even better — it is free software.
Why is that better?

Free Software is often referred as Open Source Software, or Free/Libre Open Source Software (to skip the subtle difference). The first advantage is that downloading useful software is free (as you might be familiar with Firefox or Chrome on your PC, and with apps on your mobile). However, free means more than free of charge, since at the same time it warrants four freedoms including the right to use the software, and the right to study it so you can modify it.

Empowered by this right, our team localized Odoo with a Canadian chart of accounts, tax configurations, interaction with Canadian banks… and we made it free (thanks to the last two freedoms), so that any Canadian business can leverage it with the same freedoms. In addition, Savoir-faire Linux is leading meetups (communities of practice) in Montreal and Toronto.

Some will ask where is the catch with free software, and whether it makes business sense. There is no trick. It is just a different business model.

The Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) model is at the core of the most successful businesses we know. Not only Google, Facebook, Apple, Tesla use open source (not reinventing the wheel), but they contribute back to the FLOSS ecosystem to gain traction and adoption (e.g. Apple Swift, Microsoft .Net, Google Android). To take an example from Peter Diamandis’ book, the Linux project has evolved into a $30 billion dollar ecosystem, whereby Linux is present in data centres, cars, planes, phones, TVs…

Small Business in the captain seat

In addition to FLOSS ‘the product’, there is also FLOSS ‘the methodology’ which inspired the modern software industry (distributed team, agile methods, DevOps). Small businesses can leverage the same products and techniques that made large businesses successful.

We’re talking about putting Small Businesses in the captain seat. The challenge is real to our mindset, wrongly educated to fit the business around whatever technology was available off-the-shelf. We know the results in the ERP business: costly and challenging implementations leading to project delays and more cost overruns.

If branded products are not cheap, servicing them is not cheaper because certified professionals command high daily rates. In comparison, working with Free Software is a little like cabinet making. You buy the materials (some of it is freely available, other you have to finance e.g. servers, hosting, premium subscriptions), and then you call the local entrepreneur to assemble everything to fit your needs. Naturally, you always have the option to do it yourself. It’s not about the product, it’s about making it work for your company!

LDAPCon 2015 — Quick notes and what to expect from OpenLDAP 2.5

On November 11th, a group of enthusiasts gathered in Edinburgh, Scotland, to attend the fifth edition of LDAPCon. This biennal conference on LDAP and, more broadly, on Identity Management, authentication and permission issues is the opportunity to meet the major players in these fields. Directory Services and management tools developers, recognized integrators and advanced users shared loads of informations in these two days, taking stock of the activity of the community and ensuring that it is alive and well!


Personally, I was there primarily as a member of the LemonLDAP::NG, LDAP Tool Box and LDAP Synchronization Connector communities. I had the opportunity to give a talk on the OpenID Connect protocol. It was the first time I was going to represent Savoir-faire Linux, one of the event’s corporate sponsors, whose « I LDAP » badges have been much appreciated. 😉


Opening conference: LDAP in 2020?

The opening conference was given by David Goodman — a prominent figure in the field that has worked since the 1990s on X.500 and then on LDAP in organizations such as IBM, Nokia or Ericsson.

ldapcon_2015_david_goodmanDavid picked up with Ludovic Poitou’s 2011 conference and its provocative title: “Is LDAP dead?” Two years later, it is clear that this is not the case and David tries to imagine what it will be like in 2020.

To this end, he traces the history of the protocol starting with X.500 that he helped publicize via PARADISE (Piloting A ReseArchers’DIrectory Service for Europe), a project for telecom providers to prove that it was a viable protocol. But facing X.500 complexity and integration issues with Mac and Windows clients, the designers of X.500 imagined LDAP — first as a gateway to X.500, then as an independent standard. Finally, Netscape announced it would support LDAP in 1996 and a year after, LDAPv3 came out and X.500 was considered dead.

So what about today? Key players (Oracle, IBM, CA, Microsoft, to name a few) are all offering solutions based on LDAP. However, the Cloud revolution appears to leave this standard out. Azure AD, for example, does not offer LDAP access. It is also noted that developers are now more keen on API XML or JSON than they are on native LDAP — not to mention the NoSQL database popularity.

Finally, what does the future hold for LDAP? This standard is still significantly established in the  current ecosystem and will not be forgotten five years from now. But in order to make sure it does not turn into another obsolete technology it must address new needs related to cloud computing, performance, development tools, combination with other standards such as SCIM, for instance.

OpenID Connect

It was uneasy to start this LDAP event by giving a talk on a whole different protocol but this is the way the schedule had been designed. So I quickly presented the OAuth 2 standard before getting to OpenID Connect — a protocol based on OAuth 2 and the javascript security layer JOSE for signature and JSON data encryption.

LDAPCon2015_OpenIDConnectCompared to SAML, OpenID Connect is the next-generation — REST implementation, offline mode, mobile application-ready, and so on.

I have noticed that, despite its youth — it was not a standard until 2014 — this protocol is already well known and attracts a great deal of corporate players and community interest, both having already integrated it in their products or preparing themselves to do so in the upcoming months. This is the case for LemonLDAP::NG which will support OpenID Connect starting with version 2.0.

Other talks

All the talks given during these two days were fascinating and it would be challenging to summarize them in this article. Check the presentations available on the LDAPCon 2015 website if you are interested.

Liferay Community Excellence Award 2015: Savoir-faire Linux being honored once again

Liferay Community Excellence Award 2015Montreal, November 24th, 2015 — Savoir-faire Linux® — an exceptional team of 110 Free Software Consultants based in Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and Paris — was honored with a Liferay Community Excellence Award at the Liferay North America Symposium which was held last week in Chicago. This prestigious annual award recognizes ten Liferay partners who have shown unique and valuable dedication to the Liferay open source community and contributed significantly.

“We are very much honoured to receive this award from Liferay for the 5th year in a row”, said Savoir-faire Linux’s Executive Vice-president Christophe Villemer, in a short thank you video uploaded online shortly after the Award Ceremony on November 17th. “I am particularly proud of our team for the amazing work they do with our customers and the community (…), Sven Werlen, Marat Gubaidullin, and all our certified developers and trainers.”

liferay_sp_webLiferay develops the leading open source portal and collaborative tools for the enterprise. Savoir-faire Linux, which started to explore the potential of this platform based on the Java technology in 2008, is now in the global Top 30 of Liferay’s Platinum Partners.

“Liferay strongly believes in the power of open communities to develop high quality software”, said Liferay’s Community Manager James Falkner. “The Community Excellence award is an important part of that — it recognizes those leading companies that have given much more than they have received and that share our same open spirit. Savoir-faire Linux continues to be an important part of our success and Liferay is pleased to recognize them for their achievements in our community.”

About the Liferay Community Awards

In open source project, community excellence is expressed in several ways:

Best partners standing out by their community excellence gain skills and influence. They thrive with the community.

As a matter of fact, Savoir-faire Linux is pleased to congratulate other recipients of these Community Excellence Awards 2015: ACA-IT (Benelux), Ambientia (Finland), Arcusys (Finland), Cignex Datamatics (Asia, Americas, Europe), Permeance Technologies (Australia), SMC Treviso (Italy), EmDev (Russia), and XTIVIA (U.S.A.). As our social media editor wrote on Twitter: One for all and all for… Liferay!

Our Team Receiving the Liferay Community Award 2015 in Chicago
Savoir-faire Linux’s team Receiving the Liferay Community Award 2015. From left to right: Christophe Villemer ↘ Sven Werlen ↗ James Falkner → Nicolas Juneau → Serjik Sayad.

Learning more about Liferay 7 at the Liferay North America Symposium #LRNAS2015

merci-chicagoAs all people of good will in the world were mourning the barbaric assassination of at least 129 innocents in Paris, France — just a few blocks from our European office — a small delegation from our Montreal team traveled to Chicago on Saturday and Sunday to attend the Liferay North America Symposium. They found there a beautiful city, a heaven of peace and solidarity, and a hearty Liferay community. Thank you, Chicago!

The big issue at the Symposium this year is the upcoming final release of Liferay 7 which is officially introduced for the first time in North America. It is expected to leave a lasting impression — especially in the fields of unified user experience, customization, and performance optimization. Team members Nicolas Juneau, Sven Werlen and Serjik Sayad are looking forward to learning as much as they can on the benefits and good practices provided by this new release of Liferay while presenting our own expertise to customers and partners attending the event.

LRNAS 2015

Showcasing DevOps at the Liferay North America Symposium

Liferay Symposium Gold SponsorSven Werlen will demo our automated Liferay deployment tools at the Liferay North America Symposium 2015 which will be held in Chicago on November 16-17th. With these tools, you just need to push a button to mount a VM with the full stack of a complete Liferay environment based on JBoss, including a front-end server, an indexation and search server, and so on. So if you get a chance to stop at the Savoir-faire Linux booth, don’t miss this demo.

The Liferay North American Symposium is the largest gathering of Liferay developers, integrators, customers ans users of the year. A number of our clients will be there. For the six year in a row, the open source portal leader ranks at the top of the famous Gartner Magic Quadrant and its effectiveness is proven. As a matter of fact, this great momentum relies largely on the expertise and motivation of a vibrant community.

The positioning of Savoir-faire Linux in this ecosystem is quite unique. We are both a Red Hat Advanced Partner and a Liferay Platinum Partner. Both technology leaders have announced earlier this year a strategic collaboration agreement that makes Red Hat’s JBoss platform the middleware of choice for Liferay production. Having privileged access to their resources, and with our teams of developers and system administrators certified by those two editors, we are able to mobilize powerful Java, Web, DevOps and cloud computing expertises to work on our clients’ projects. This is how we developed sophisticated methodologies for Liferay integration and development as well as Liferay deployment and maintenance.

As a Gold Sponsor of this symposium we are looking forward seeing our clients, peers and friends, and to greeting visitors at our booth in order to share with them the little tricks of our DevOps tools. And, who knows, since we had the honour of receiving a Liferay Community Excellence Award every year since 2011, we remain hopeful to bring a fifth one home this year! 😉

Gold Sponsor since 2012

Savoir-faire Linux Announces New Gold Sponsorship at Liferay North America Symposium 2015

Liferay logoLogo Savoir-faire Linux

Leading open-source technology event will showcase Savoir-faire Linux’s expertise and advanced services in Chicago

Montreal, QC – October 29, 2015 – Savoir-faire Linux Inc., an outstanding team of 110 Free Software consultants and Liferay certified developers based in Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto & Paris, announced today its participation as a Gold Sponsor at this year’s Liferay Symposium North America.

Hosted by Liferay, Inc., the world’s leading open-source portal provider, the Liferay Symposium North America will take place from November 16 to 17 in Chicago. This premier event for Liferay’s business and technical users and developers in North America will include two days of expert sessions, hands-on workshops, networking opportunities, access to Liferay’s top executives and architects, and keynotes from open-source community leaders.

Savoir-faire Linux is proud to be once again a Gold Sponsor at the Liferay Symposium North America,” said Christophe Villemer, Executive Vice-President of the Canadian company. “We look forward to meeting other Liferay enthusiasts and to supporting some of our canadian customers to this major event.” Savoir-faire Linux has won a Liferay Community Excellence Award four years in a row, from 2011 to 2014. “Given our contribution to the success of our clients with large-scale Liferay projects in industries such as finance, education and manufacturing, we hope to bring back home another one this year”, added Christophe Villemer.

We have a lot to share to the Liferay community about our strong devops expertise in complex infrastructure management and automation,” said Sven Werlen, Vice-President – Enterprise Solutions, at Savoir-faire Linux. “We excel in assembling free software bricks and legacy components that cannot be replaced easily. We demonstrate at the Symposium how easily new environments can be deployed and configured to meet your agility and speed to market requirements.

We are happy to have Savoir-faire Linux join us again at this year’s Liferay Symposium North America.” said Brian Kim, Chief Operating Officer for Liferay in conclusion. “Our partners play an important role in Liferay’s success and having this great team at our event brings added value to our attendees looking to meet the industry’s top-level enterprise technology vendors.

Liferay Symposium Gold SponsorTo learn more about the Liferay Symposium North America and to register, visit the event website.

To learn more on the Liferay expertise of Savoir-faire Linux, visit our website. Photographs of previous symposiums are published under a Creative Commons BY license (credit only) on our photo gallery on Flickr.

The next digital revolution: IoT, big data, and a stronger Canada

EdTech Leadership SummitWe had a great panel at the MindShare Learning EdTech Leadership Summit today, enhanced by a profound participation from the audience. I’d like a to share a few highlights, leaving the comment section open for everyone wishing to share their own take-aways.

Victor Garcia, Adjunct Professor at the Schulich School of Management and Senior Fellow at Bell Canada, gave a clear definition of IoT from his big data class. He stressed that technology is not the issue, instead we need to focus on the business outcomes. The real value is the ability to help executives take the right decisions, to make money, save money, and/or to make the world better. Later somebody from the audience made the point that, more than money, it is more about saving people’s time (e.g. faster clearing of paperwork, less wasted time allowing nurses to focus more on patient care). Don’t we all need more time?

Shawn Naroozi, IoT expert from Microsoft USA, and Jeff Lundgren, IoT Sales Lead for Microsoft Canada, shared a compelling example of an IoT implementation for truck management (connected transportation). Connecting to the TV screen with a few clicks from his Surface device, Shawn demonstrated the wide amount of live information available from any particular truck (engine levels, status of the cargo, etc). We discussed applications in education, for example connected buildings. It is clear that IoT can benefit both the operations of educational organizations, as well as the quality of the delivery in the classroom (making the class more relevant and engaging).

Kelli Davis, VP Integration Services at CastleBranch, explained how her company found a gap in higher education. They started to digitize student health records to save everybody’s time and to ease the transmission of information to the right parties at the right time. Privacy and security are important concerns. The younger generation is more inclined (and more trusting) about sharing their information, especially when it add value for the user experience. Somebody commented that students are really becoming the teachers in some way. Sometimes it is more effective to call a student to fix a problem that the local tech person.

Amir Anani, CEO and President of ICTC, shared a lot of insights about ICT trends, the labour market, productivity and innovation, and the relative position of Canada in the global market. Training and investing in the future workforce is required to maintain a competitive advantage, noted the audience. Namir made the point that in some situations there is no significant revenues for the private sector to justify an investment, in which case the government should step in. The audience added that government should take a leadership role, especially when it comes to strategic issues as education.

The audience also made interesting comments about the role of trustees, the turnover among their ranks, and the opportunity to educate them on ICT trends. We discussed change management, and some success stories (supporting champions, and celebrating heroes). May be we’d need the kind of executive education that private sector managers receive? The conversation turned back to education.

IoT could be used to cross-reference brain waves with student activities and learning outcomes. Interestingly, InteraXon is one of the 3 Toronto-based start-ups to make the top 100 by total funding. Nobody seemed shocked by the idea. It looks like we all believed that students would have absolutely no issue with that. In any case, the point was to engage students better while providing the best support at the time of need. Shawn added that another way to use data would be to improve the process and the system over time (as an iterative feedback loop).

Douglas Reid, Director Learning & Research Infrastructure at the Lassonde School of Engineering, told us that the main point about IoT is that it makes us think (harder). The Renaissance Engineer (trademarked) combines knowledge and skills from multiple fields such as engineering, law, and design, to solve problems more effectively.  The audience noted that companies have a role to play in delivering education. We came to agree that a joint effort by a large number of businesses, building on common ground, would be helpful for the education system to innovate faster. Students and educators could be part of this.

Finally, Jonathan Le Lous, VP Cloud & Infrastructure and Global Alliances Manager at Savoir-faire Linux, reminded us about the nature of sharing software code and best practices. The Linux ecosystem has turned into a $30 billion industry. Linux now runs a wide majority of devices from Android watches to cars, supercomputers, phones, TVs… We can learn from the start-up playbook. Those fast-rising ‘unicorns’ often bootstrap their business with free software (e.g. Twitter, Facebook). We don’t need a lot of money to create new value. We just need to get started!

Launching Savoir-faire Linux in Ontario

Savoir-faire Linux is launching in Ontario! Join us in Toronto next Thursday and Friday (October 29-30) to celebrate this event, and 30 years of Free Software, at the Free Software and Open Source Symposium at Seneca College:

FSOSS visual annoucement
Free Software and Open Source Symposium at Seneca College, October 29-30, 2015

To make this occasion memorable:

Of course, we’ll have plenty of time to discuss Free Software, Innovation, and the next digital revolution, over a beer (or two). John Chambers predicted the Internet of Everything will represent 7 to 10 times the impact of the Internet, a value creation he estimates at no less than $19 trillion over the next ten years.

sflinux-ontarioThere is no doubt in my mind that Free Software will continue to spearhead technical innovations, especially since collaboration and the pace of change are accelerating exponentially. After all, the Linux ecosystem is worth $30 billion today, according to Peter Diamandis. The future is bright and open!