Yes; or, more accurately, it was made for the U.S. Intelligence Community. The ACH methodology was created at the CIA in the 1970s, and a few years ago, its creator assembled an independent team of Web and intelligence experts to build a Web-based tool for the methodology. This software is the result.
No. It's a tool meant for everyday research, and you might be surprised by how simple it is. There's nothing that special about the technology itself, but it will help you or a team think more clearly about problems.
We'll have a demo site up very soon so that you can play with the software all you like. In the meantime, see the Sample Projects page to get a quick overview of what the software looks like and how it works.
ACH was developed to run on Linux servers with Apache 2, PHP 5 and MySQL 5.
If you want to run ACH on a FreeBSD server, use the port system to install ACH in the following way:
cd /usr/ports/www/ach && make install clean
Then, follow the instructions given.
We've gotten a few requests for a Windows-compatible version. This software has been modified by others to run on Windows servers, so it is possible. However, creating a Windows-compatible distribution is not a priority for the project right now.
See the installation guide. Right now, we strongly suggest that you have root access to your Web server, as you might have to change some server settings to get ACH to run correctly. We're working on improvements to the software that will keep you from having to do this.
For a current list of professional service providers, see the Support page.
It's licensed under the GNU General Public License, which means that if you redistribute it, you need to do so under the same terms. See the Licensing page for more information.
Integrating GPL code into proprietary systems is only a concern if you plan to redistribute your code to outside entities. If you want to integrate the ACH software into your own organization's infrastructure for use by your own personnel, there are no problems.
ACH requires a serious time investment from a researcher. It will not do your thinking for you. Its job is to help you think more rigorously, keep you from taking mental shortcuts, and encourage you to consider possibilities you'd never thought of before. This means that ACH could very well lengthen the analysis process, but that's exactly the point.