About us

Birth and development

eLabor is a production and labor cooperative with a strong focus on innovation and technology, particularly in the field of information technology. The cooperative was founded in Pisa in 2001, bringing together various experiences from the 1990s. From the beginning, it made the strategic choice of free software, which led it to join the Italian Free Software Association and then the Italian Open Source Network (RIOS), using agile methodologies and an approach characterized by continuous learning and improvement. Over time, it has accumulated very diverse experiences in international cooperation projects and digital philology (critical editions of ancient texts), then moved on to developing applications specifically tailored to clients’ needs, particularly in the field of public utilities and smartphone commerce. In recent years, it has developed a strong interest in Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence in the industrial field, and various related technologies and areas, such as IoT, Big Data, time series analysis, mathematical modeling, simulation, optimization, Industry 4.0. In all these areas, eLabor also provides technical assistance and training courses. In the creation of its products and services, it has developed significant expertise in using technologies such as Linux, relational and NoSql DBMS, application servers, languages like Java, Python, JavaScript, HTML/CSS, XML, and TeX, and development tools like Eclipse, Spring, Subversion, Git, Jenkins, SonarQube, Selenium, and many others. Recently, it has invested in learning platforms for Machine Learning, such as Keras/Tensor Flow, MxNet, Gluon, and tools like LifeRay and Elastic Stack.

The Open source choice

Business model

The open approach permeates the entire business model of eLabor in the choice of tools we use. They are completely open, except in some specific cases, generally due to clients’ choices. We are talking about tools like Linux (especially Ubuntu, but also Debian, Raspberry PI OS, and RedHat), OpenJdk, Python, Gcc, Samba, and many others. These allow us to have the best existing ICT technologies at very low costs. It is worth emphasizing that when talking about the cost of using software, one should not consider only the acquisition price of the related license. In our case, it is generally zero, a detail that should not be ignored. However, one must also consider documentation, assistance, the possibility of accessing external professionals adequate to the needs that arise, and the opportunities to grow internal skills. In all this, Open Source software offers unbeatable conditions! Not to mention the importance of avoiding lock-in phenomena as much as possible, which are even more serious in today’s turbulent IT world. As for us, all the software we produce is, in principle, open. We believe that sharing code does not take anything away from us. On the contrary, for countless reasons, we believe it brings us great benefits. Firstly, in technical terms, and secondly, in terms of reputation. Continuously acquiring new technical skills and reputation makes it easy to find someone who wants us by their side.

Problem solving

To address the problems that arise from working in the open world, one must first believe in it. If you only believe in it halfway, it is very easy to fall into the temptation to “close” everything, try to monetize, and exploit the positions conquered at the cost of great sacrifices. However, it is just a temptation. This leads you to lose the advantages of the open approach. Something that is difficult to understand or make understood by colleagues, collaborators, and even clients. Then there are the prejudices of those who have not understood the non-ideological value of the open approach and continue to believe it is better to pay for something that is actually worth less. On the contrary, then they don’t want to pay for the quality services you are proposing. Once, a client told me that thanks to a special agreement, they could access a well-known proprietary operating system for only 9 euros per copy. “9 euros wasted,” was my comment. Finally, there are problems due to going against the current. For every problem that arises, you must always defend your choices, as if making other choices would not result in problems!

Benefits

We realized we gained great benefits by being an open source company even before we were born. In fact, if we had not previously acquired Open Source knowledge and skills, we would not even have been born. Our initial capital was 450 euros. Not even enough to pay the notary. The computers we inherited, obviously used, from the consortium from which we were spawned, which also offered us hospitality for some time. We reciprocated by providing them with consulting when they needed it and offering them our internet connection. Paying for software licenses was not even discussed. Why would we, when we could get everything we needed for free from the open world? Subsequently, we only received confirmations, and after 20 years… we are even more convinced.

Team