by C.G. Lynch

Collaborating to deal with open source complexity

Feb 20, 20072 mins

Last week, ten vendors announced at the LinuxWorld OpenSolutions Summit in New York that they’d be forming an Open Solutions Alliance to address the problem of interoperability (or a lack thereof) between open source applications. At the time, I thought, here is an example of companies collaborating and pooling their resources together to reduce the complexities businesses encounter with the decision to use open source.           

            Then I remembered I better check that statement with the experts (most of whom didn’t exactly hail the alliance’s formation as some big breakthrough in the open source community). In fact, some wondered if they’re even focused on the right problem.

            Composed of vendors specializing in open source, the alliance’s goal is to focus on “defining and promoting tools, frameworks and best practices that facilitate easy deployment and interoperability between applications.” The newly formed group branded itself as “vendor neutral” and then (without a hint of irony) listed its members, which included the likes of Jaspersoft, Hypernic, EntepriseDB, Spikesource, Adaptive Planning, OpenBravo, Groundwork, CentricCRM, Collabnet and Unisys.

     While integration between applications seems to be their primary objective, some open source experts believe there are more pressing areas where alliances should form to collaborate on open source challenges.

    “With open source users, I never hear, ‘how do I get these open source applications to work together?’” says Bernard Golden, CEO of the consulting firm Navica and who writes a blog about open source for “The more common complaint about open source is that it’s difficult to install and configure properly,” he continued. “I think a much more useful alliance would be one that focuses on open source usability and makes the products easier to get into production and reduce the skill level needed to use them successfully.”

     With that in mind, how do you think companies should collaborate with each other to bolster more efficient uses of open source? If alliances aren’t the answer, what is?

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.