|By Stephen Walli||
|December 12, 2012 10:15 AM EST||
Software is surprisingly dynamic. All software evolves. Bugs are found and fixed. Enhancements added. New requirements are discovered in using the software. New uses are found for it and it is shaped to those new uses. Software solutions that are useful and used must by their very existence evolve. Well organized open source software communities create the right conditions to make this dynamism successful.
The world continues to embrace and adopt free and open source licensed software across the board. Vendors and OEMs, their IT customers, governments and academics are all using, buying and making open source software, and often all three at once.
Using and buying liberally licensed open source software, i.e., consuming such software, are relatively straight forward affairs. You buy a product based on open source licensed software pretty much the way you buy other software, evaluating the company producing the products and services against your own IT requirements and managed procurement risk profiles. You don't procure Red Hat Linux server software differently than you historically bought Solaris or might buy Microsoft Windows Server systems.
Using open source software (as opposed to buying a product) adds additional considerations based on evaluating the strength of the community around the open source project and the costs of supporting that choice either through the development of in-house expertise (likely supported by joining the project's community) or the hiring of external expertise. You look at a project's how-to documentation and tutorials, forum and email list activity, and IRC channels. You consider the availability of contracting support from other knowledgeable sources around the community. These considerations really don't change whether the open source software to be used is tools and infrastructure systems or developer libraries and frameworks. These considerations scale with use from individuals and the amount of time they have to spend solving their problem all the way up through company IT departments wanting to use open source licensed software and the time and money trade-offs they're willing to make.
Once one starts to make open source software, i.e. producing it, a different set of considerations arise. There are really two scenarios for producing open source:
- One can contribute to an existing project, adding value through bug fixes and new functionality (and possibly non-software contributions like documentation and translations).
- One can start a new open source project, which means organizing the infrastructure, developing the initial software, and providing for the early community.
The motivation in the first case of contributing to an existing open source project is simple. People generally start using open source software before they become contributors. People use software because it solves a problem they have. Once they use the software for a while, they will generally encounter a bug, find a change they want to make, or possibly document a new use case. If the user is comfortable with making software changes and the project community has done a good job of making it easy to contribute, then contributions can happen.
While it would be easy to simply make the necessary change and ignore the contribution, living on a personal forked copy of the software comes at a cost. Others' enhancements and bug fixes aren't seen and shared by installing newer versions of the software, and one needs to re-patch the software with one's own changes and fixes if one does try to move to a newer version. It is far better to contribute one's changes back to the project community if feasible, working with the committers to ensure its contributed correctly and patched into the main development tree. The onus is on the community to make it easy to contribute, but it's on the contributor to contribute correctly. The cost of living on a fork gets worse over time as the forked branch drifts further away from the mainline development of the project. It is well worth the investment to contribute.
This brings us to the "making" open source software case of starting one's own project.
First, it all starts with software. You must consider the software itself around which a project and its community is to be built. The software must "do" something useful from the beginning. Open source software developer communities are predominantly a discussion that starts with code, and without the code their is no discussion. Even when a fledgling community comes together to discuss a problem first with an eye to building the solution together, sooner or later someone needs to commit to writing the first workable building software that will act as a centre of gravity for all other conversations.
If an existing body of software is to be published into an open source community then there needs to be certain considerations with respect to the ownership and licensing. Software is covered by digital copyright and someone owns that copyright. To publish existing software requires the owners to agree to the publication and licensing as open source. The weight of existing code and its cultural history need to be considered, and may effect the early project community.
The crucial question becomes "why" open source? What motivates the publication of software under an open source license? Why share the software? Why choose NOT to commercialize it. (There are a number of important reasons not to commercialize or keep the software proprietary.)
The economics of collaboratively developing software is compelling. Writing good software is hard work. Managing the evolution of software over time is equally hard work. Sharing good software and collaboratively developing and maintaining it distributes the costs across a group. Publishing the software as open source, and building a development community (however small) is motivated by a desire to evolve the software and share the value and to be open to the idea that others in the community will join in sharing their domain expertise, learning the software's structure, and sharing the costs of evolution.
The economics are also asymmetric. For a contributor the contribution may represent a small bit of expertise from the contributor (e.g. a single bug fix or particular application of an algorithm that they personally understood), but the contributor is rewarded with the community investment of the entire package of software at relatively small personal cost. Likewise, the contribution is valuable to the software's developer (and user) community at large without necessarily carrying the costs of the contributor as a full time member in the developer community. (Indeed a single contribution may have been the only value the contributor had to give in this instance.)
Motivation to develop an open source community to evolve the software is an essential factor, but so too are knowledge of the problem domain, and the internal knowledge of the software needed to anchor the community. The essential motivation to share the software as open source supports the commitment and investment to maintain enough domain expertise and software knowledge to keep the community going and growing. Without all three factors it is difficult for the community to evolve the software and thrive.
One of the first structural considerations needs to be which open source software license to attach to the project. There are an array of licenses that have been approved by the Open Source Initiative as supporting the Open Source Definition, but there are really just a few that typically need consideration, and we'll discuss those at length in another post. The important thing to realize when choosing a license is that it doesn't just outline the legal responsibilities for how the software is shared, but it also outlines the social contract for how the community will share.
The next structural consideration for a community is to choose a tool platform to support collaborative development. This is the hub for activity for managing source code versions, distributing built software, handling the lines of communications, and logging issues and bugs. There are a number of free forge sites (e.g., Codeplex, Google Code, GitHub, SourceForge), and the tools all exist as open source themselves if a project wanted to develop and manage its own site.
The last structural consideration involves deciding what sort of community one wants to develop. What sort of governance will be required and when will certain things need to be instituted. There are two very good books available in this space:
Contribution is the life blood of an open source software community. It leads to new developers joining the project and learning enough to becoming committers with the responsibility for the code base and its builds. Its what makes the shared economic cost work for all. But as already stated, contributors generally start as users of the software. This means that a project community hoping to attract contributors first needs to attract users. The project's initial participants need to build a solid onramp for users that can then become contributors by making the software easy to "use", ensuring it's discoverable, downloadable, easily installable, and quickly configurable.
Not all users will contribute. Some may never push the software enough to need to make a change. It simply solves the problems they need to solve. Of those that contribute, some will contribute in very simple ways, reporting bugs for particular use cases. Others may contribute more, and this is where the second onramp needs to be developed by the community. Contributors need to know what sorts of contributions are encouraged, how to contribute, and where to contribute. If code contributions are to be encouraged, having scripts and notes on building the software and testing the baseline build make it easy for potential contributing developers to get involved.
So building an open source software project follows a pattern:
- There needs to be useful software, at least a seed around which to build a community.
- Motivation to share, expertise in the problem to be solved, and an understanding of the software structure will anchor an open source community. The project founder is the starting point for what will hopefully become a community.
- The project needs to have the structural issues of license, forge, and governance sorted, even if governance becomes an evolving discussion in a growing community.
- The community needs to build a solid onramp for users, and a second onramp for contributors. The sooner this happens in a project's life, the faster it can build a community.
One can choose to publish software under an open source license and never build a community. The software isn't "lost", but neither is it hardened or evolved. It may be useful to someone that discovers it, but the dynamic aspects of software development are lost to it. Taking the steps to encourage and build a community around the open source project sets the dynamic software engine in motion and allows the economics of collaborative development and sharing to work at its best.
"delaPlex is a software development company. We do team-based outsourcing development," explained Mark Rivers, COO and Co-founder of delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jun. 28, 2016 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 395
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effi...
Jun. 28, 2016 07:15 PM EDT Reads: 328
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
Jun. 28, 2016 06:30 PM EDT Reads: 345
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
Jun. 28, 2016 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 902
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Jun. 28, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,146
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
Jun. 28, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 833
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Jun. 28, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 966
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
Jun. 28, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,173
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...
Jun. 28, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 529
When people aren’t talking about VMs and containers, they’re talking about serverless architecture. Serverless is about no maintenance. It means you are not worried about low-level infrastructural and operational details. An event-driven serverless platform is a great use case for IoT. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Animesh Singh, an STSM and Lead for IBM Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, will detail how to build a distributed serverless, polyglot, microservices framework using open source tec...
Jun. 28, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 468
Apixio Inc. has raised $19.3 million in Series D venture capital funding led by SSM Partners with participation from First Analysis, Bain Capital Ventures and Apixio’s largest angel investor. Apixio will dedicate the proceeds toward advancing and scaling products powered by its cognitive computing platform, further enabling insights for optimal patient care. The Series D funding comes as Apixio experiences strong momentum and increasing demand for its HCC Profiler solution, which mines unstruc...
Jun. 28, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 422
IoT offers a value of almost $4 trillion to the manufacturing industry through platforms that can improve margins, optimize operations & drive high performance work teams. By using IoT technologies as a foundation, manufacturing customers are integrating worker safety with manufacturing systems, driving deep collaboration and utilizing analytics to exponentially increased per-unit margins. However, as Benoit Lheureux, the VP for Research at Gartner points out, “IoT project implementers often ...
Jun. 28, 2016 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 457
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his Day 2 Keynote at @ThingsExpo, Henrik Kenani Dahlgren, Portfolio Marketing Manager at Ericsson, discussed how to plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change t...
Jun. 28, 2016 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,307
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
Jun. 28, 2016 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,240
Presidio has received the 2015 EMC Partner Services Quality Award from EMC Corporation for achieving outstanding service excellence and customer satisfaction as measured by the EMC Partner Services Quality (PSQ) program. Presidio was also honored as the 2015 EMC Americas Marketing Excellence Partner of the Year and 2015 Mid-Market East Partner of the Year. The EMC PSQ program is a project-specific survey program designed for partners with Service Partner designations to solicit customer feedbac...
Jun. 28, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 491
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
Jun. 28, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,359
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
Jun. 26, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,358
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Jun. 26, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,269
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Jun. 26, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,320
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Jun. 26, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,406