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Think Tank Report On the State of Open Source 110

Posted by kdawson
from the looking-in-the-mirror dept.
AlexGr writes to recommend an account of a meeting a couple of months back of representatives from more than 100 software companies discussing the state of open source software. The outcome is outlined in a 16-page report, 2007 Open Source Think Tank: The Future of Commercial Open Source (PDF). Among the surprising conclusions: participants noted a growing similarity in methods between open source and proprietary software development. They predicted some kind of convergence, where the best of both approaches gets adopted in each camp.
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Think Tank Report On the State of Open Source

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  • by jkrise (535370) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @07:59AM (#19050063) Journal
    For instance, at last year's Open Source Think Tank meeting, participants were expecting open-source software to achieve greater predominance. However, licensing and support issues have slowed the adoption of open-source solutions at the enterprise level.

    Licensing and Support issues with 'Closed Source' software is precisely what drove enterprises to Open Source! Enterprise care a hoot about GPL v2 and GPL v3 wars.. they aren't interested in redistribution.. just that the Damn Thing Works (TM) !
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by b1ufox (987621)
      Indeed it is nonsense.

      But...hey what is this MS was a platinum sponsor?

      May be tomorrow they will sponsor Suse for Enterprise ...huh

    • by Zonk (troll) (1026140) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @08:56AM (#19050483)

      For instance, at last year's Open Source Think Tank meeting, participants were expecting open-source software to achieve greater predominance. However, licensing and support issues have slowed the adoption of open-source solutions at the enterprise level.

      Licensing and Support issues with 'Closed Source' software is precisely what drove enterprises to Open Source! Enterprise care a hoot about GPL v2 and GPL v3 wars.. they aren't interested in redistribution.. just that the Damn Thing Works (TM) !
      Seriously, how can anyone read this [microsoft.com] and find it more acceptable than this [fsf.org]?

      • by level_headed_midwest (888889) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @09:00AM (#19050515)
        They are either a masochist or a lawyer. Probably a lawyer as there is only so much self-flagellation that a masochist can take before he uses the safety word.
      • by maxume (22995)
        How many enterprise customers do you think actually read those things? A lawyer or two might, but that's just to say that it isn't harmful, not to evaluate it for how good it makes them feel.

        If you have a service that does $1,000,000 a year in business, $0 and $10,000 are effectively the same price for one time items for that service, so the perceived capabilities and quality of the different products are what you are looking at.
        • "How many enterprise customers do you think actually read those things?"

          Bingo. They read the pitches from the vendors, which contain gigabytes of FUD saying e.g. there's no company "standing behind" open source software (which, of course, is false). The pitches do not mention that their own EULA disclaims every liability it possibly can.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by maxume (22995)
            Sure they disclaim liability, but Redhat is pretty much in the business of saying "You're better off with us than you are without us" (which is fine, but that's their business in a nutshell). Big contracts are all about support, not licensing details.
      • by jimicus (737525)
        Licensing is partially a red herring. Nobody reads the Microsoft EULA unless/until they get a shakedown from the BSA.

        Where licensing does become important is that people do understand that they need things like client licenses, and that Microsoft have (either by accident or design; I think design) made it fantastically complicated.

        Look at the annual Microsoft tax in the form of "subscription" licensing (pay per year and get a discount of around 20% on the outright purchase price - gee thanks, don't strain
      • by mgiuca (1040724)
        Do you mean this [microsoft.com] monstrosity?

        (Which, I'll add, took a significant amount of searching on the MS website to find. A search for "vista eula" comes up with the XP eula and you have to do quite a bit of poking to actually find the above link... Said poking is left as an exercise to the reader.)
    • Wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

      by amyhughes (569088)
      The concern corporations have over licensing of open source has very much to do with licensing and support.

      1) They do not want to be compelled to release their own software, and GPL does not make clear what constitutes distribution. They send their internally-developed software to company divisions all over the world, which may or may not be sold in the future, and to vendors and suppliers. Sometimes they make licensing agreements with third-parties to support or even take over internally-developed applicat
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Knuckles (8964)
        GPL does not make clear what constitutes distribution.

        FAQ does [gnu.org].
        • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

          by amyhughes (569088)
          That's a FAQ, not a legal document. Actual, real-life lawyers within corporations nix GPL software. I'm afraid a good ol' OS "we know what we're doing" doesn't hold much weight with them.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by charlesnw (843045)
            Um no? I know of several major corporations using GPL and other licensed software all through there operations. Believe it or not merit based evaulations are the norm.
            • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

              by amyhughes (569088)
              My statement was intended as an example applicable to some organizations, not as a generalization.

              Don't let that stop you from evaluating yourself so highly, though. This is slashdot.
          • by Knuckles (8964)
            The FAQ is mainly there to help people who cannot read a legal document. An actual, real-life lawyer would know that spreading the software within one and the same organization cannot mean distribution.
            • What about a division? A wholely owned subsidiary? Lots of different reasons to have different tax id's with complex webs of ownership, I don't it is that simple.
              • by Knuckles (8964)
                What about a division? A wholely owned subsidiary?

                IANAL, but I see this clearly as different organizations, and thus distribution.

                However, when the organization transfers copies to other organizations or individuals, that is distribution. In particular, providing copies to contractors for use off-site is distribution.
                That's what you get for evading taxes ;)
                • by Knuckles (8964)
                  Dang, I wanted to say I view the latter as a different organization. A simple division of the same legal entity is, IMHNLO, not.
      • 1) First: As the other guy pointed out, the GPL is very clear on that point. Second: if you're worried about re-distribution, it would make more sense to ban all closed-source software, since its licensing terms are much more restrictive than anything in the OSS world. Third: the GPL isn't the only open license out there, so even if your argument made sense, it would only apply to the GPL, not to the others.

        2) There are companies out there that make a lot of money by providing support for open-source softwa
      • "The concern corporations have over licensing of open source has very much to do with licensing and support."

        The concern corporations have over licensing of open source is a hill completly made out of FUD shit, full stop.

        "They do not want to be compelled to release their own software"

        There *own* software? Are we talking about software they themselves developed? The article was clearly about software *used* by companies, not *developed* by them. Anyway the GPL doesn't compell anyone to release or redistri
    • From the Report:
      "Confusion over OSS license terms is a major issue, as ISVs and customers of open source do not fully understand license obligations."

      "The sheer number of OSI-approved licenses was not a major concern to most participants."

      "Incompatibility of licenses--specifically that software distributed under the GPL often cannot be used with
      software distributed under MPL, Eclipse or Apache licenses--was a serious concern for everyone."

      "Think Tank participants bemoaned the lack of a business-friendly lic
  • Surprising? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dour power (764750) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @08:05AM (#19050105)

    Among the surprising conclusions: participants noted a growing similarity in methods between open source and proprietary software development. They predicted some kind of convergence, where the best of both approaches gets adopted in each camp.
    Why is it surprising that developers (open or closed source) have adopted the useful parts of each others' development models? They don't exist in vacuums...
    • Re:Surprising? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jkrise (535370) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @08:19AM (#19050189) Journal
      Why is it surprising that developers (open or closed source) have adopted the useful parts of each others' development models? They don't exist in vacuums...

      Once upon a time, Open Source developers were called all sorts of filthy names... like gypsies, hippies, communists etc. etc.

      Now that 'Enterprise Customers' have adopted these software systems into their networks, the Closed Source world would like to inform you that they have changed... since it's now apparently fashionable to be a hippie.
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by hswerdfe (569925)

        Once upon a time, Open Source developers were called all sorts of filthy names... like gypsies, hippies, communists etc. etc.
        you forgot capitalist.
    • by troff (529250)

      Why is it surprising that developers (open or closed source) have adopted the useful parts of each others' development models? They don't exist in vacuums...

      The article's CONTENT and its summary don't match up. Article reads:

      On the other side of the coin, open-source software developers have adopted aspects of the proprietary model. Most notably, these open-source companies are seeking profit from the sale of licenses, support and professional services. Some even offer indemnification to company executives

  • by CarpetShark (865376) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @08:12AM (#19050137)
    Who declared these people a "think tank"? Most of the people on slashdot think about Open Source/Free Software sometimes. Bill Gates does as well. Is HE an "Open Source Think Tank"?
    • by rucs_hack (784150) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @08:14AM (#19050143)
      Does that mean we get a real Tank? Can I be in a think tank too?
    • Bill Gates does as well. Is HE an "Open Source Think Tank"?

      Nah... maybe a Think Truck or Car. But on the other hand Balmer could be one. A chair shooting think tank.
    • by sayfawa (1099071) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @08:25AM (#19050227)
      You may be onto something. Everytime some stupid internet or patent law is close to being passed, we can summarize the prevailing thought on /. and submit it to the media as coming from an official think tank. We just need some sophisticated sounding name that won't be immediately associated with /.
    • by Dareth (47614)
      Tanks are meat shields. They are to absorb the damage and keep the agression of monsters away from the "softer" damage dealers and healers.

      Until they can get their basic tactics right, they might as well ask what Leeroy Jenkins [wikipedia.org] thinks about Open Source!

      • by Aladrin (926209)
        I know this is meant to be a joke, but this could very well the most insightful thing posted so far.

        This 'think tank' IS there to take the brunt of the abuse, so that the corporations behind it can slip in and do what they want while everyone is attacking the tank. In this case, what they want is probably to absorb more open source ideas while maintaining their 'closed source is better' stance. 'Embrace and Extend' and all that.

        Or they could be planning a subversive blow later to show how their exposure t
      • You're doing a good job of tanking the mods - you built up some nice aggro there.
    • I Think,
      therefore I Tank...
      *sigh*
    • by hey! (33014)
      Sure. All you have to do is gather a moderate number of people around you, say at least two or three more.

      Then you get somebody to pay you all salaries, in return for which you bloviate for pay where you once bloviated for free.

      Simple.

  • Think Tanks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nabasu (771183) <nabasu@ g m a i l . c om> on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @08:16AM (#19050165) Homepage
    Am I the only one that thinks "Think Tanks" are payed shills and can never be trusted with _any_ report they produce?
    • by simm1701 (835424) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @08:23AM (#19050217)
      No you are completely wrong, think tanks perform a valuable service giving thoughtful insight and independant opinion on a variety of wide ranging and often specialist topics.

      This report was provided by the commitee for think tank research, a think tank for the research industry. It has been funded by various large industry think tanks and we would like to thank them for the expense account they have provided during this period
      • No you are completely wrong, think tanks perform a valuable service giving thoughtful insight and independant opinion on a variety of wide ranging and often specialist topics.
        I guess Slashdot doesn't qualify after all.
    • Not a think thank (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Per Abrahamsen (1397)
      I read the report, and I believe the word think tank is misleading. It was a just seminar or workshop, where people in the industry exchanged experiences for their mutual inspiration and benefit.

      A think tank is more of a permanent or at least longer term organization, where similar minded people tries to build a rational justification for their already existing viewpoints.

      Both are actually quite useful. The seminars / workshops are a fine place to learn from others mistakes, so you can make your own new a
    • Considering the top two sponsers of this particular "think tank" are MS and Novell I think you may be on to something...
  • by Franso6 (976942) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @08:22AM (#19050207)
    Or the 'official' reasons for the deal (FTFA):

    "(...)
    Microsoft was represented by Sam Ramji, Director of Open Source Technical Strategy, while Novell was represented by Justin Steinman, Director of Marketing Linux and Open Platforms.(...)

    (...)
    From Microsoft's perspective, the deal it struck with Novell was driven mainly by customer demand. Sam described how its Interoperability Executive Council, which includes 30 top CIOs demanded interoperability between Windows and Linux, as both must coexist in the enterprise and neither will completely displace the other."(...)

    (...)
    From Novell's perspective, its motivation for the deal was primarily the need to differentiate itself in a meaningful way to gain share versus Red Hat. As number two in the market, Novell recognized that it simply could not gain significant share without a "game-changing" event. (...)"

    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) * on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @08:51AM (#19050431) Homepage Journal
      Interesting! Mod parent up!

      What people have to realize is that Microsoft is not a company with one cohesive strategy anymore. They fight battles on a number of different fronts ... it's spreading the company thin and people are scratching their heads wondering why Vista was late or why it didn't deliver on promises.

      The bottom-line as to why the deal with Novell is simple: Microsoft may have a monopoly on the desktop, but in the server space it has nothing even close. There are very few Microsoft-only shops these days; most enterprise customers don't want to put all their eggs in one basket and very wisely so. So they adopt a mixed-platform strategy and CIOs rightly realize that the only thing causing any problems in interop between Linux and Windows is Microsoft, so they make demands. Novell wants a piece of the action because it believes that doing so will differentiate SuSE from Red Hat and put/keep them on top of the enterprise Linux market.

      And unless you have a monopoly in a particular space -- the customer is king.

       
      • by div_2n (525075)
        And yet in answering the demands of customers, Microsoft still found time to inject patents into the issue and crow about it to the media.

        If there was anything about the deal that was positive, that event alone made the positive superfluous.
    • by Mathness (145187)
      Microsoft was represented by Sam Ramji

      He should stick to what he knows, making (horror) movies.

      Ooooh Ramji, nevermind. :p
  • by mangu (126918) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @08:34AM (#19050311)
    FTFA: "establish an OSI-approved open-source license that better meets the needs of commercial open-source vendor"


    How about meeting the needs of users? Any vendor is free to adopt any licence they want, it's up to the market, i.e. the buyers, to decide if that licence is acceptable or not.


    All in all, the whole article seems like an intent to spread FUD against the GPL.

  • Sponsored by... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @08:39AM (#19050345)
    This year's "platinum sponsors" were Microsoft and Novell.

    Source: http://thinktank.olliancegroup.com/ostt2007report. pdf [olliancegroup.com]

    Nuff said.
  • Also... (Score:4, Informative)

    by b1ufox (987621) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @09:01AM (#19050521) Homepage Journal
    1. The cost of starting an Internet company plummeted by over 80% from 1996 to 2004. This trend was largely enabled by open source software and powerful, cheap hardware.

    2. IM is the preferred method of communication (with friends) for those under 25 by a wide margin and email is the preferred communication method for those over 25 by a significant percentage. This represents a major generation gap in communication modes.

    3. User generated content is vastly increasing in both supply and demand, driven by such popular online properties as MySpace, FaceBook, YouTube, blogs

    o Written content: 55M blogs today, up 800% in past year

    o Visual content: homemade videos, mashups

    4. Traditional media is losing authority with the younger generation, who are increasingly turning to "open" media for advice about music, products and services.

    5. Companies are following these trends

    o Adopting corporate blogs, especially by CEOs

    o "Always-connected" management

    o Rise of SaaS

    o Virtualization of workforce

    o Outsourcing

    o Mobility solutions

    How is this all related to Open source and its effects? I don't seem to get the point here.Is it just me or ridiculously off agenda?

    What a waste of time ?... my time offcourse :-)

    • How is this all related to Open source and its effects?

      I don't think that it's possible to claim a direct relationship, but indirectly these trends create a market for certain capabilities. And if you develop software for the traditional office market, this might cause you to rethink some of your assumptions, for example, that you get to sell into a space which controls what goes on both the servers and clients.

      The way things are trending, any software you put out there has to interoperate with whateve

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is really a quick highlight pen read for people who haven't being paying attention to the issues and can't be bothered with in-depth reading, i.e. Dilbert's boss and his colleagues. If subtract the introductory material, it's really about an 8-page report. And nothing insightful is presented, it's just a skim over some of the news surrounding open source over the past 3-4 years.

    It should have been subtitled "The PHB summary".
  • I for one will be happy when proprietary software creators "converge" on the idea that they should release all of their programs under the GPL or another sufficiently Free software license, with all that that entails. "Open Source" is dead. Long live Free Software.
  • That "convergence" is probably in the past. Similar problems, etc.
  • Timed openings (Score:3, Interesting)

    by delire (809063) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @10:01AM (#19051073)

    participants noted a growing similarity in methods between open source and proprietary software development.
    Considering the point at which the given software is released is necessary when comparing both software development approaches.

    It isn't rare for an Open Source project to be entirely developed behind closed doors before its first appearance on the 'market'. This approach is typical of larger companies, like RH and IBM (which can afford an extensive internal testing roadmap) and doesn't at all imply that the software is closed source in itself.

    Once finished such software is released under an open license after which point it is continued to be developed in collaboration with the community; particularly in areas relating to bug-squashing and building interoperability with applications not considered important at the time it went to market.

    Is the development of such software then considered 'open' or 'closed'? I think it's hard to generalise.
  • 'Sam described how its Interoperability Executive Council, which includes 30 top CIOs demanded interoperability between Windows and Linux'

    Then instead of a closed two company deal, why not open up the protocols to everyone, unemcumbered by patent and rand restrictions.

    'Sam defended Microsoft from the accusation that its deal with Novell will lead to Microsoft suing other Linux distributors for patent infringement. Sam described Microsoft's patent portfolio as primarily defensive'

    Depends on which en
  • by rs232 (849320) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @11:56AM (#19052669)
    Platinum sponsors: Microsoft, Novell

    What the f**k is Microsoft doing on an Open Source conference. Oh, I forgot, Novell gave them a complimentary pass in exchange for some paper.

    [ indemnification FUD ]

    'While customers .. negotiate license terms (such as indemnification) .. adequate internal compliance policies and procedures to manage risks .. GPL'

    One of the 'sponsers' of this report having spent years and a whole heap of money on promoting IP and patent FUD now gets to contribute to a report on the indemnification dangers of the GPL, how f*****g ironic.

    [ Lack of support FUD ]

    'The lack of commercially available support for some open source solutions continues to be a big barrier to adoption'

    [ not compatible FUD]

    ''Another significant barrier to adoption by customers is integration and interoperability'

    [ Open source standards not standard FUD ]

    ''Open source lacks compliance with many standards when compared with proprietary solutions'

    [ Open source is only ever used to bargan down proprietary vendors ]

    'canny CIOs are using open source's reduced acquisition costs as leverage in negotiations with proprietary vendors'

    [ Open Source vendors lack the personal touch FUD ] ( a new one on me ? )

    ''The CIOs agreed that some level of personal touch by commercial open source vendors is needed'

    [ Open Source has no known positive attributes ] ( another new one on me ? )

    'The fact that a product is open source is not viewed as positive or negative'

    Conclusion: If Open Source has no added value as compared to proprietary code then we might as well stick with the lawyer proofed fully supported touchie feely version ..

    In related news, the Pope said today ,in an address from the Vatican, that Devil worship is not viewed as positive or negative but Religions must focus on solutions that deliver believers needs.

    Money well 'sponcered' on this 'report' methtinks .. :)

    http://thinktank.olliancegroup.com/ostt2007report. pdf [olliancegroup.com]
    • "Open source lacks compliance with many standards when compared with proprietary solutions"

      I admit I didn't read the report all that carefully, but this particular observation made my jaw drop. How can anyone argue that open-sourced programs lack compliance with standards when many of the most significant programs were written precisely to conform to well-established standards. Doesn't sendmail comply with RFC2822? Doesn't ISC bind comply with the various DNS standards? Don't MySQL and Pos

  • You put in what, where, when and how you want to.

    Its really amazing how it was once laughed at and now all these articles trying to constrain what open source is.

    Its like the single god and being saved thing goes... My god not yours....

    But the hard reality, if there is a god, hes/shes not any one and all of them at the same time.

    Want to add another facet to the open source jewel? Have at it, do it your way, I'll do it my way and everyone else will do it whatever way they so chose.

    The fact that it comes toge
  • mistake (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nanosquid (1074949) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:24PM (#19054089)
    The mistake these people are making is that they are still thinking in terms of "vendors" and "customers". The point of open source software is that the users are the developers.

    As soon as you have vendors in the mix, companies that expect to make money from the software, you have conflicting interests: vendors want to make money, and that money has to come out of the pockets of users. It doesn't matter whether the software is nominally open source, these companies are going to find a way to get at the money somehow.

    Often, a "hybrid (open source/commercial) model" translates into simply "we're going to let people do a lot of development and bug fixing for us for free, and then we're going to sell the stuff commercially.

    A simple rule of thumb is: don't use software under a "hybrid" or "dual license" model; somehow, you are going to be paying for it sooner or later.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by walter_f (889353)
      The mistake these people are making is that they are still thinking in terms of "vendors" and "customers". The point of open source software is that the users are the developers.

      Well said.

      Open source does not fit into a "market" model in many aspects.

      There's also the term "market share" that does not make any sense here - nearly all PCs purchased as complete systems will contribute to the market share of Windows as it comes pre-installed, most notably on notebooks. Even if some of them will be converted int
  • is that there usually is not much thinking involved.
  • Instead of asking 100 company representatives, maybe they would have been better of asking 100 users.

    Its unfortunate that people care so little about liberty, they just come for the beer....

The meta-Turing test counts a thing as intelligent if it seeks to devise and apply Turing tests to objects of its own creation. -- Lew Mammel, Jr.

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