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Kit Plummer
Software Engineer :: Techitect :: Evangelist
kitplummer (AIM,Yahoo!IM,Gtalk,Skype)

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First…I had a good time. The Bug Labs guys are a welcomed addition…not the typical ego-driven Open Source rockstars that seem to be taking over these kinds of events. I attended their BUG+SV which was fun (even without wifi – how strange is that, Palo Alto and no wifi?).

The event itself is a bit too robotic…maybe that is what happens when a company like IBM runs/orchestrates an event. I know IBM didn’t literally run it – but…

Speaking of rockstars there were some big ones. Erich Gamma is pushing Jazz. Ok, really there were only a few deserving of the dub. Quite a few who thought they were though. The guy that presented after me (have no clue who he is) walked around the whole week like people were asking for his autograph.

The best presentation I attended was Marcel Offerman and Karl Paul’s tutorial on Building Secure OSGi Applications. Fortunately, there is effort on that front – because it was a huge void just even a year ago.

My slides are up at Slideshare – with a few edits. I actually dropped in a pretty sketchy picture depicting the IRS – which I pulled out for the masses. I think it went fairly well. I’d actually overheard a few folks standing in the hallway considering coming in – but, were thinking that my presentation would be a sales pitch. I suppose part of that is due to the abstract. However, I think too many presentations came out that way…commercials.

So, I prefaced my talks with my objective of telling a story…with a few provocative facts thrown in. I think overall it was accepted well. Based on the green(+1)/red(-1) bucket distribution it was a bit more popular than not. I do believe there were a few who were hoping to hear how OSGi is being used across the DoD with spectacular success and when I stated the contrary just got in the groove of shaking their head – over nodding in approval. But, that’s how it goes. There were also a few folks with the DoD as the organization printed on their badge. I’m not exactly sure if that meant that worked for the DoD itself or a contractor. This is a good sign though…their attendance proves things are changing.

There was one question at the end that I struggled to answer. “How do you make the business case to Accenture to have people contribute to Open Source”. My answer was that it is not a “business” problem, but a cultural one. I know that might be hard to swallow – but, the reality is that most development organizations – let alone one’s in the DoD space – just aren’t filled with people who’d be comfortable with submitting a patch, or even posting to a mailing list. The current culture is one where everyone is used to having paid support and if it isn’t there then someone made a bad decision. Even though I made the case that consummation of Open Source is a “standard” practice these days – that doesn’t translate to the consuming at a developmental level. Using Linux doesn’t imply that the user is going to be willing to commit anything…quite the contrary. All that said, while working at Raytheon I did have to make the business case – and I did it successfully by buying a support contract with an Open Source parent. It took some time before other developers were comfortable with the notion of fixing the problems themselves then giving the fixes to the support company. It was even longer before anyone was comfortable with contributing back directly to the community. But, was that was done – we were able to make the case to the “software” organization that this should be recognized as an expected practice, based on the fact that it reduced the time for the fix to turn around in to the next release of the consumed Open Source project (dependency problems being a critical part of consuming OSS). The argument was made that the cost of supporting a community was far less that the license and maintenance costs for a proprietary solution. Once you are to numbers, it is really that simple – getting to the numbers is the hard part, and that was my point in response to the original question. BTW, from the other side of the fence the Open Source projects don’t appear to care either way…they keep moving and fix what they deem necessary.

Also, getting “psychological” support from a few key OSGi folks was really nice. It appears that the OSGi community in general (beyond Eclipse) seems to really care about the problem domains of their users. I hope to follow up on those fronts in the near future.

It was also pretty exciting to see what’s happening with ServiceMix, Apache’s leading ESB effort – which is now built out from OSGi (Felix). [Thanks Oisin for your time.] I was disappointed in the Swordfish effort – at least what was presented. I was hoping there’d be more momentum – we’ll have to wait and see if there ever will be a critical mass there. The Sopera guys were nice and I do believe that they have the right objective. Something that I’d not really considered until very recently was the decisions being made on which Foundation to jump in bed with: Eclipse or Apache. Sopera is obviously working within the Eclipse Foundation…because there is a hole in the offering. I’m just not sure there is really a market for an Eclipse-based ESB. I could be wrong though.

I ran in to a few folks that resulted in great conversations. I talked with the SourceForge guy – and it was interesting to get his take on things – versus what you hear from the guys at CollabNet. I’m not really sure SourceForge is healthy – but, they keep chugging (good for them).

That’s it for now. Ping me if you have any questions, or comments.

Oh yeh, there was one missing organization. Sun.

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