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Open Source Software Up the Stack

Dennis Byron

Open source, including open source Sharepoint tool, in/at Enterprise 2.0

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I used an open-source-software (OSS)-related session at Enterprise 2.0 in Boston this week to put some faces to names and voices that have appeared here on ebizQ via telephone-conducted podcasts and/or interviews. The Boston-based Optaros OSS consulting firm moderated a panel consisting of Jeff Whatcott of Acquia, Bob Bickel of Ringside and John Newton of Alfresco (Bickel is scheduled for an upcoming ebizQ podcast in his new role as founder of Ringside but he appeared here often in an earlier role as JBoss marketing VP before Red Hat bought JBoss).

It was a good panel covering many of the points made in the links noted above. One of the most revealing discussions that came out of the Q&A with attendees was new however. The problem is that many IT and executive managers at companies will not allow code developed in-house with open source to be released to the community. Under all open source terms and conditions (Ts&Cs) of which I am aware, there is no requirement to make such code available; the key relevant condition is that if you do distribute it, you have to distribute the source.

I interpreted the panel's response to the attendees as follows: you have to convince your management that most code is a commodity. Everyone is reinventing the wheel, especially companies within industries. As John Eckman of Optaros expressed it, "(Going open source) is collaborative engineering vs. isolated engineering." Tell the boss: if it's not demonstrably something of competitive advantage, let it go. Apparently, men of my seniority (in all senses of the word--see my photo) are a big part of the problem. One panelist said essentially "be patient; they'll soon all retire."

Speaking of putting software into the open source community, Microsoft did just that at the show. It released a new Sharepoint-based podcast tool under the Open Source Initiative-approved MS-Public License. Called the PKS the tool lets users create, manage and distribute podcasts and is built on the SharePoint Server and Microsoft Silverlight (which of course are not open sourced from a Ts&Cs perspective although they have large and very active communities).

Dennis Byron’s blog on open source software: A longtime market research analyst follows what “the movement? means to business integration—in applications, infrastructure, as services, as architecture and as functionality.

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