A blog for the enterprise open source community
Integration and interoperability without IP guilt required to pass goJay Lyman, July 30, 2007 @ 12:28 pm ET
This year’s O’Reilly OSCON event in Portland, Oregon had the usual open source conference hallmarks – long, gray Unix beards, Linux-based long hairs, packs of PHP, Perl, Ruby and other programmers, laid-back geek attire consisting of shorts and sandles, open source executives in jackets (ties are not welcome), and free as in ‘free beer’ beer on the exhibit floor. Still, there were some new themes running throughout the sessions, conversations and meetings, and chief among them was integration. Now don’t get me wrong, software flexibility and the creation of software that can work together because code, APIs and standards are open has always been a hallmark of free and open source software. Integration and interoperability within the open source software category has also characterized project and vendor efforts to a good extent so far. However, the discussion is broadening to include integration with traditional, proprietary software that, in many cases, is already widely deployed.
The Open Solutions Alliance, for example, indicates its mission has changed somewhat to be more inclusive of proprietary and dual-strategy software companies, particularly systems integrators. Although the established vendors are unlikely to loosen any grip on any markets, they are waking up to the fact that it is better to get involved with open source than to try and ignore it, resist it or attempt to injure it. Look at BMC and its latest moves to open up some of its projects and adopt a comprehensive BSD licensing strategy for them. Evidence of further integration of open source and proprietary software also includes Microsoft’s latest open source embrace and its partnership with SpikeSource.
It’s significant that Microsoft’s approach and discussion currently, following an earlier enumeration of alleged patent infringements described as a ‘mistake’ by Bill Hilf at OSCON, does not involve any intellectual property claims, agreements, stipulations or statements beyond, ‘IP serves a vital role in innovation and is useful for developers, both proprietary and open source’ as paraphrased from the company’s new site. That type of integration without the strings attached is what the open source community and commercial players want, and if Microsoft and other traditional vendors want to participate in and benefit from open source, it may also be the price of admission for them.
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