January 2009

In The Role of Participation Architecture in Growing Sponsored Open Source Communities, Joel West and Siobhán O'Mahony argue that "to some extent, firms and technical communities have always collaborated to create standards, shared infrastructure, and innovation outcomes that are bigger than any one firm can achieve." and that "there is increasing evidence that path breaking innovations cannot occur without a community to interpret, support, extend and diffuse them". When considered in this light, it should not be surprising that more enterprises, both large and small, are increasing their participation in open source communities to drive innovation.

The theme for this month's issue of the OSBR is enterprise participation and the authors provide practical advice for effective enterprise/community collaboration. Their experiences provide perspectives on: i) the Eclipse Foundation, which maintains an ecosystem of over 150 enterprises that participate in Eclipse open source projects; ii) an independent software vendor that sells closed source solutions constructed on top of an open source platform to large enterprise customers; iii) the impact of major players collaborating on a common open source platform for the mobile industry; iv) the role users can play in the very large (over 14 million) GNOME community; and v) the lessons a scientist from the National Research Council of Canada learned when he released software and started a small open source community.

As always, we encourage readers to share articles of interest with their colleagues, and to provide their comments either online or directly to the authors. We hope you enjoy this issue of the OSBR.

The editorial theme for the upcoming February issue of the OSBR is commercialisation and the guest editor will be Robert Withrow from Nortel.

Dru Lavigne


An Independent Software Vendor (ISV) would be foolhardy if it did not consider open source as part of an overall business strategy. Even if not using or participating in open source projects, ISV's using a purely commercial license approach still need to keep a keen eye on their market and be aware of open alternatives. The same is becoming increasingly true for non-ISV's, those organizations who make strategic use of software but are not ultimately known by their customers as software companies. Aerospace, automotive, retail, mobile and embedded devices, shipping and logistics, banking and healthcare are some examples of industry verticals where organizations are greatly increasing their participation in open source. This growing wave of enterprise participation in open source is promising to radically change the relationship between consumers and suppliers of software. This issue of the OSBR explores these changes and will help software vendors and consumers alike prepare to take advantage of emerging opportunities.

Ian Skerrett from the Eclipse Foundation outlines a model that has proven successful at establishing innovation networks. These networks encompass all roles within a software supply chain -- be they between suppliers, consumers or some combination thereof. Skerrett notes that an independent governance model and rules for sharing intellectual property are keys to this model's success.

Kingston Duffie, CTO of the Fanfare Group, provides an outline of how a small ISV can work with large enterprise consumers in an open collaborative environment to the benefit of all. Duffie presents the importance of thinking about the platform and how an open collaboration can lead to better initial requirements.

Stephen Walli, a consultant on open source, standards and software, provides a view of the impact open source has on the mobile Internet and offers models for looking at the future. Walli describes the various key players in the mobile space and how they've reacted to, and participated in, various open initiatives such as Mobile Linux and Android. He also overviews Symbian's recent move to become an independant foundation and its adoption of the Eclipse Public License.

Stormy Peters, Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation, discusses the importance of consumers within an open source project. Peters notes the importance of enterprises in testing, marketing and financial support and the various ways the GNOME foundation encourages consumers to become more active.

Alain Désilets, a Research Officer at the National Research Council of Canada, provides the perspective of an enterprise looking to release an asset as open source, and what to consider ahead of time. D?silets notes the importance of lowering the barriers to entry and collaboration in order to build a strong community.

A common theme amongst all of these articles is the need for open collaboration and a clear governance model. With these two crtieria in place, a level playing field can be established where consumers and suppliers alike can continue to drive innovation in software.

Donald Smith

Guest Editor

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