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ebizQ's Business Agility Watch

Elizabeth Book

Guest Post: Merger: Open Source Development Labs and Free Standards Group

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Today, I welcome a guest post from Open Source expert and future ebizQ Open Source blogger, Dennis Byron.

From Dennis Byron:*

Look at the leading information technology (IT) suppliers' activity today and you will find what's happening to the Open Source/Linux movement now happened a decade ago in the Open Software/Unix movement. This week's merger of Open Source Development Labs and the Free Standards Group into the Linux Foundation is Exhibit A. The powers that be could have even used the same press release they used 11 years ago (see press release February 11, 1996) in merging X/Open and the Open Software Foundation (OSF) into The Open Group. X/Open like FSG was a specification and certification "group" that tried to help overcome the by-then multiple forking of UNIX. OSF like OSDL was a consortium founded by DEC, HP, IBM and other corporate players to promote a single UNIX.

Although the 1996 merger turned out to be too little too late, I think this week's announcement might be meaningful. It is a sign of maturity for open source software (OSS), along with events such as the Microsoft/Novell announcement of November 2006, giving users a choice in the enterprise or in your personal life: OSS where it makes sense, Microsoft where it makes sense, legacy systems and software where they make sense. The open choice idea is reflected on the Linux Foundation's web site (especially in a Jan 22 New York Times story on the merger) and perhaps signals a change from some of the OSS vs. Microsoft (and Microsoft vs. OSS) tirades that have permeated OSS discussions for the last few years (and as recently as December 2006 with the absurd badvista.org promotion). After all, open source software has been around since the first meeting of Share in 1955.

As a sidelight, I asked the Linux Foundation: "Why highlight "Linux" in the name and not some variation of "open source?", which would imply a broader mandate. It could be as simple as that this is the place where Linus Torvalds draws his pay. But I suspect it has more to do with not competing with that other group IBM and others created 11 years ago. I'll let you know if they get back to us with a more strategic answer.

*Dennis Byron is the analyst for IT Investment Research (www.itinvestmentresearch.com) aimed at institutional and individual investors in information technology (IT), or just anyone who likes to peer under the covers of "the financials" where both large companies and emerging IPOs like to bury their most interesting facts. Byron has more than 30 years experience researching and analyzing all areas of information technology and information-systems use. He is a former researcher with the Datapro division of McGraw-Hill and at IDC. He has conducted over 500 specific information-systems case studies, and has contributed to Application Development Trends magazine and other publications. Coming soon, Dennis will debut a blog on ebizQ, on open source software. His tagline: An 'OSS Agnostic' follows what "the movement" means to business integration--in applications, infrastructure, and software as a service."

ebizQ’s expert blog team covers a broad range of BPM, business integration, business analytics/monitoring, collaboration, content and related issues.

Peter Schooff

Peter Schooff is Contributing Editor at ebizQ, and manager of the ebizQ Forum. Contact him at pschooff@techtarget.com

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