Interaction With The OS Community Versus Vendors - Administration
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.
Q. How is engaging with the OS community different from engaging with a vendor?
Andrew said there are two aspects of the Open Source community. It is an amalgam of developers from across the globe, but it is also commercial enterprises that support Open Source applications. Deal with them in slightly different ways. With the community, after a company decides which application it wants to deploy, it should build a relationship with the developers. Don’t just use output from the Open Source community; contribute something to it as well. The advantage of working with the community will surface in the form of additional functionality for the application, for example. But that will not happen without reciprocity. That could take the form of contributing code or bug fixes.
Bruce Perens urged caution to the large enterprises about interacting with the Open Source developers so that management doesn’t panic because they fear contamination of company IP. A company engaged in these activities should have an Open Source policy.
Hank Jones suggested that it is good to advocate changes in Human Resources processes in performance evaluation. Developers, product managers, technical support people, or others who are expanding the company’ capabilities through their work in Open Source should have that acknowledged in their formal reviews.
Q. Are there any definitive studies that identify solid ways to demonstrate ROI?
Carolyn noted that there are many studies available, and many of them advocate different points of view. She concluded they are not reliable in, or applicable to, every setting.
Andrew Aitkin suggested taking different pieces of the studies and building one’s own model.
Loren Sinning added that a company must look at its business requirements first—what is the perceived business value of doing going with Open Source?
Q. Many Open Source developers have no interest in developing the applications that customers want to deploy. Won’t this mean that Open Source will hit a glass ceiling?
John Terpstra, founder of the Samba team, noted that his Samba initiative reflects a desire to capture a significant slice of the Windows networking market.
Bruce Perens reminded everyone that, a few years ago, the limit was set at the GUI. Now it is set at enterprise applications. In truth, where that ceiling is set is an unknown.
Greg Wettstein, systems architect for North Dakota University and an Open Source pioneer, countered that the glass ceiling is valid. In his opinion, the economic model that underlies Open Source will drive change. Companies must support the companies that are trying to create the enterprise applications. If organizations simply take Open Source software and provide no form of remuneration for the people who invest their IP in it, there will be the glass ceiling. And companies will not have access to the level of high quality software that they can reliably bet their organizations on.
Andras Szakal of IBM reinforced that thought by noting that large companies invest heavily in testing, quality assurances and support for Open Source products because their enterprise customers demand it. That is the only way to make Open Source acceptable to business customers.
Graham Bird concluded the glass ceiling discussion with the assertion, “If Open Source is going to succeed, it has got to come with the mindset of the customer, and in many instances that doesn’t happen.”