|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 On the Avenue Marketing Group, a sales and marketing firm that utilizes events to market and sell products to consumers, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. On the Avenue Marketing Group (OTA) is a sales and marketing firm that utilizes events to market and sell products to consumers. On behalf of our clients, we attend thousands of fairs, festivals, expos, concerts, conferences, and sporting events annually, helping them reach millions of individuals ...
Apr. 26, 2015 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,507
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch of Docker's initial release in March of 2013, interest was revved up several notches. Then late last...
Apr. 26, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,892
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Apr. 26, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,492
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ciqada will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ciqada™ makes it easy to connect your products to the Internet. By integrating key components - hardware, servers, dashboards, and mobile apps - into an easy-to-use, configurable system, your products can quickly and securely join the internet of things. With remote monitoring, control, and alert messaging capability, you will meet your customers' needs of tomorrow - today! Ciqada. Let your products take flight. For more inform...
Apr. 26, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,934
Health care systems across the globe are under enormous strain, as facilities reach capacity and costs continue to rise. M2M and the Internet of Things have the potential to transform the industry through connected health solutions that can make care more efficient while reducing costs. In fact, Vodafone's annual M2M Barometer Report forecasts M2M applications rising to 57 percent in health care and life sciences by 2016. Lively is one of Vodafone's health care partners, whose solutions enable older adults to live independent lives while staying connected to loved ones. M2M will continue to gr...
Apr. 26, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,535
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Apr. 26, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,515
SYS-CON Events announced today that GENBAND, a leading developer of real time communications software solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's WebRTC Summit, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The GENBAND team will be on hand to demonstrate their newest product, Kandy. Kandy is a communications Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) that enables companies to seamlessly integrate more human communications into their Web and mobile applications - creating more engaging experiences for their customers and boosting collaboration and productiv...
Apr. 26, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,752
Dave will share his insights on how Internet of Things for Enterprises are transforming and making more productive and efficient operations and maintenance (O&M) procedures in the cleantech industry and beyond. Speaker Bio: Dave Landa is chief operating officer of Cybozu Corp (kintone US). Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dave has been on the forefront of the Cloud revolution driving strategic business development on the executive teams of multiple leading Software as a Services (SaaS) application providers dating back to 2004. Cybozu's kintone.com is a leading global BYOA (Build Your O...
Apr. 26, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,579
The best mobile applications are augmented by dedicated servers, the Internet and Cloud services. Mobile developers should focus on one thing: writing the next socially disruptive viral app. Thanks to the cloud, they can focus on the overall solution, not the underlying plumbing. From iOS to Android and Windows, developers can leverage cloud services to create a common cross-platform backend to persist user settings, app data, broadcast notifications, run jobs, etc. This session provides a high level technical overview of many cloud services available to mobile app developers, includi...
Apr. 26, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,429
SYS-CON Events announced today that BroadSoft, the leading global provider of Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) services to operators worldwide, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's WebRTC Summit, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BroadSoft is the leading provider of software and services that enable mobile, fixed-line and cable service providers to offer Unified Communications over their Internet Protocol networks. The Company’s core communications platform enables the delivery of a range of enterprise and consumer calling...
Apr. 26, 2015 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,562
While not quite mainstream yet, WebRTC is starting to gain ground with Carriers, Enterprises and Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) alike. WebRTC makes it easy for developers to add audio and video communications into their applications by using Web browsers as their platform. But like any market, every customer engagement has unique requirements, as well as constraints. And of course, one size does not fit all. In her session at WebRTC Summit, Dr. Natasha Tamaskar, Vice President, Head of Cloud and Mobile Strategy at GENBAND, will explore what is needed to take a real time communications ...
Apr. 26, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,801
What exactly is a cognitive application? In her session at 16th Cloud Expo, Ashley Hathaway, Product Manager at IBM Watson, will look at the services being offered by the IBM Watson Developer Cloud and what that means for developers and Big Data. She'll explore how IBM Watson and its partnerships will continue to grow and help define what it means to be a cognitive service, as well as take a look at the offerings on Bluemix. She will also check out how Watson and the Alchemy API team up to offer disruptive APIs to developers.
Apr. 26, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,869
The IoT Bootcamp is coming to Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo on June 9-10 at the Javits Center in New York. Instructor. Registration is now available at http://iotbootcamp.sys-con.com/ Instructor Janakiram MSV previously taught the famously successful Multi-Cloud Bootcamp at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo in November in Santa Clara. Now he is expanding the focus to Janakiram is the founder and CTO of Get Cloud Ready Consulting, a niche Cloud Migration and Cloud Operations firm that recently got acquired by Aditi Technologies. He is a Microsoft Regional Director for Hyderabad, India, and one of the f...
Apr. 26, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,678
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
Apr. 26, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,329
WebRTC is an up-and-coming standard that enables real-time voice and video to be directly embedded into browsers making the browser a primary user interface for communications and collaboration. WebRTC runs in a number of browsers today and is currently supported in over a billion installed browsers globally, across a range of platform OS and devices. Today, organizations that choose to deploy WebRTC applications and use a host machine that supports audio through USB or Bluetooth can use Plantronics products to connect and transit or receive the audio associated with the WebRTC session.
Apr. 26, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,913
As enterprises move to all-IP networks and cloud-based applications, communications service providers (CSPs) – facing increased competition from over-the-top providers delivering content via the Internet and independently of CSPs – must be able to offer seamless cloud-based communication and collaboration solutions that can scale for small, midsize, and large enterprises, as well as public sector organizations, in order to keep and grow market share. The latest version of Oracle Communications Unified Communications Suite gives CSPs the capability to do just that. In addition, its integration ...
Apr. 26, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 4,429
SYS-CON Media announced today that @ThingsExpo Blog launched with 7,788 original stories. @ThingsExpo Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @ThingsExpo Blog can be bookmarked. 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.
Apr. 26, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,573
The world's leading Cloud event, Cloud Expo has launched Microservices Journal on the SYS-CON.com portal, featuring over 19,000 original articles, news stories, features, and blog entries. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. Microservices Journal offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Follow new article posts on Twitter at @MicroservicesE
Apr. 26, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,117
SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
Apr. 26, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,105
Wearable technology was dominant at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) , and MWC was no exception to this trend. New versions of favorites, such as the Samsung Gear (three new products were released: the Gear 2, the Gear 2 Neo and the Gear Fit), shared the limelight with new wearables like Pebble Time Steel (the new premium version of the company’s previously released smartwatch) and the LG Watch Urbane. The most dramatic difference at MWC was an emphasis on presenting wearables as fashion accessories and moving away from the original clunky technology associated with t...
Apr. 26, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,117