|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.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and ...
May. 31, 2016 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 984
18th Cloud Expo, taking place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, 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 enterprises are using some...
May. 31, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,325
"What we see what happens when you have a completely networked society and the potential to now drive the value creation and the collaboration and the ecosystems that are possible when you start to be able to connect people and industries together in ways that have never been possible before," explained Esmeralda Swartz, VP of Marketing Enterprise & Cloud at Ericsson, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
May. 31, 2016 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,891
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, will discuss the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to fo...
May. 31, 2016 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,657
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
May. 31, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,039
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
May. 31, 2016 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,748
SYS-CON Events announced today that ContentMX, the marketing technology and services company with a singular mission to increase engagement and drive more conversations for enterprise, channel and SMB technology marketers, has been named “Sponsor & Exhibitor Lounge Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. “CloudExpo is a great opportunity to start a conversation with new prospects, but what happens after the...
May. 31, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,499
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discuss how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. We'll cite examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He'll also highlight how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable...
May. 31, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,146
Customer experience has become a competitive differentiator for companies, and it’s imperative that brands seamlessly connect the customer journey across all platforms. With the continued explosion of IoT, join us for a look at how to build a winning digital foundation in the connected era – today and in the future. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Nguyen, Group Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how to successfully leverage mobile, rapidly deploy content, capture real-time d...
May. 31, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,804
What a difference a year makes. Organizations aren’t just talking about IoT possibilities, it is now baked into their core business strategy. With IoT, billions of devices generating data from different companies on different networks around the globe need to interact. From efficiency to better customer insights to completely new business models, IoT will turn traditional business models upside down. In the new customer-centric age, the key to success is delivering critical services and apps wit...
May. 31, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,420
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
May. 31, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,634
As cloud and storage projections continue to rise, the number of organizations moving to the cloud is escalating and it is clear cloud storage is here to stay. However, is it secure? Data is the lifeblood for government entities, countries, cloud service providers and enterprises alike and losing or exposing that data can have disastrous results. There are new concepts for data storage on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive data around the world. ...
May. 31, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,513
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, will provide 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 ...
May. 31, 2016 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,135
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobile software company with over 200 develope...
May. 31, 2016 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,935
SoftLayer operates a global cloud infrastructure platform built for Internet scale. With a global footprint of data centers and network points of presence, SoftLayer provides infrastructure as a service to leading-edge customers ranging from Web startups to global enterprises. SoftLayer's modular architecture, full-featured API, and sophisticated automation provide unparalleled performance and control. Its flexible unified platform seamlessly spans physical and virtual devices linked via a world...
May. 31, 2016 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,456
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC Software has been named "Siver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. BMC is a global leader in innovative software solutions that help businesses transform into digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive advantage. BMC Digital Enterprise Management is a set of innovative IT solutions designed to make digital business fast, seamless, and optimized from mainframe to mo...
May. 31, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,431
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
May. 31, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,370
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
May. 31, 2016 07:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,883
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
May. 31, 2016 06:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,045
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device. For more information, please visit https://www.mangoapps.com/.
May. 31, 2016 05:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,235