The meeting comprised four panels: Business, Technical, Legal, and Social and Ethical, each of which featured an introduction of the issues and follow-up with an interactive discussion between the speakers and the audience. The aim was to capture and publish the issues discussed in order to raise the industry awareness of the benefits of Open Source.
Business Panel Graham said, “We aren’t as far down the track with Open Source” as many people in the group thought. He emphasized the interest in, and need for, probing the issues to gain a practical understanding of the productive ways to integrate Open Source into businesses. He also addressed the possible disconnect between the developer community and commercial interests. Graham pointed to the stated desire of many developers to make a contribution that “makes a difference,” and not “just” write code. He suggested that making that difference involves listening to what the market says it needs. In that sense, strategic marketing has a role in bridging the gap between objectives in Open Source.
Technical Panel Terry logged the number one issue as defining an open standard and identifying the process, or processes, to produce it—how to make sure that requirements make it into standards and making it clear who should participate in the process. He called for the creation of a standards business scenario.
Social and Ethnical Implications Panel Bill flagged the question “Can we be innovative in a six sigma world” as a key one emerging from his panel. He felt that it was incumbent on industry to look at the impact on innovation of an obsession with perfection of process. He also noted that the issue of personal accountability was key in Open Source and that developers needed to explore that as it pertains to producing quality output.
Allen Brown added that different concepts related to the Open Source discussion, such as privacy, play out differently depending on the country and culture. Discussions of social and ethical implementations of Open Source, would therefore produce different output depending on the venue in which they occurred.
Legal Panel Steve concluded that warranty and indemnification stimulated the most animated discussions and felt that both developers and commercial interests made eye-opening observations. He tied that in with the principal question in the business panel and suggested that effectively addressing the warranty/indemnification issue is central to making Open Source “ready for prime time” in the enterprise. He added that the number of Open Source licenses also embodied a mandate for the legal community—it is important to help users of Open Source understand where to start in terms of licenses. He felt that The Open Group might initiate an activity to record best practices in this area, and coordinate its efforts with the OSI.