Volume addressed in South Africa open source project

Von Theo Boshoff

Last week saw the launch of the Lumus project, a South African initiative that aims to drive supplier performance within the local as well as international buyer community across various sectors.

Says Lumus project leader, Herman Potgieter, ?A primary aim of the Lumus project is to align the various industry development initiatives around a common platform, to drive supplier performance as a global competitive strength.?

In line with the collaborative nature of the project, the IT platform is based on open source software. ?This is probably one of the most comprehensive open source developments in SA to date,? adds Potgieter. 

Lumus? IT platform is Internet-based. This provides suppliers with ongoing visibility on the operational requirements of the buyer community, while the assessment provides a clear view of the development gaps that suppliers should address to comply with these requirements. 

According to Lumus CTO, Wayne Philip, there are a number of reasons why an open source system was chosen for the project. ?Open source systems are more standards-driven and easier to engineer. I feel that open source is extremely mature and stable, and stability is a major issue for us.

?I also needed to know that I have extensibility, because we are working with huge volumes of information and data, which needs to be globally accessible, and I believe that open source is the answer. To run about 15 million records in a live environment will not be possible with an Oracle/secret zones type set-up.? To date the supplier base represented by all the industries that Lumus is working with is in excess of 20,000.

Philip continues to say that another reason why Lumus is running on open source is the time factor. ?If we were supplying a traditional solution it would probably have been a two-year development cycle.

We started last year in April and were finished in November. Delivering the solution using open source was quick, and I do not know if it would have been possible otherwise,? he says.

The Lumus community interacts with each other, and performs all functions through the Internet application, (which Potgieter and Philip stress is not a Web site) which requires no downloads and has very low system requirements. Potgieter notes that Lumusnet.com has full user access management, and offers a wide selection of functionality, which is being continually enhanced.

Because this is a multi-industry initiative, security and confidentiality of data is a critical issue. The shared knowledge base provides transparency, but is designed, at the same time, to allow suppliers to decide on the amount of data available to the public. It also includes a function that allows the setting of ?viewing rights? for confidential information. Also built into the system is ?devolved authorization?, which further allows buyer organizations to request viewing rights from suppliers when they wish to view specific information, which suppliers can then approve or deny.

The need for local organizations to develop in line with global standards, says Potgieter, is now possible through the Lumus project, made possible by open standards technology.