Blogger: Joe Niski
I’ve spent the last couple of days at the Open Source Business Conference, now in its seventh (or eighth) year. As far as I cold tell, the roughly 800 attendees were about evenly split between open source projects seeking funding, venture capitalists, and lawyers - but organizer Matt Asay said this year was notable for about 40% of attendees representing enterprise IT. This would indicate that enterprises are starting to get serious about understanding the implications of using free open source software (FOSS), and proactively managing it.
As a developer who’s used FOSS for over a decade and worked hard to get executive buy-in, I find this a very welcome indicator. As an industry analyst with a report on FOSS detection and governance tools due to publish in late April, I’m running to stand still regarding the evolution of FOSS business models and governance tools.
I learned of two governance resources that might not make it into my my upcoming report, both with heavy involvement from HP. The first is FOSSBazaar, an open community for sharing governance best practices. HP is a founding partner, along with Coverity, DLA Piper, Google, the Linux Foundation, Novell, Olliance Group, OpenLogic and SourceForge. HP has also released its internally-developed FOSSology detection and governance framework under the GPL (v2). Although there's something poetic about a FOSS solution for FOSS governance, as with all new projects, we'll need to wait and see how a community develops before forming an opinion on what FOSSology means for commercial vendors already in this solution space.
I also heard a few interesting data points. According to a survey of conference attendees conducted by North Bridge Venture Partners, there’s a strong belief that the current economic downturn will be good for FOSS in general – to quote a panelist, “the absence of money is good for innovation.” If anything, there’s some concern that a flood of poorly placed investments in FOSS-based startups could have a negative effect. I think this is good news for developers, users and enterprise IT.