How to Capture Open Source User Consortia 4/4

tl;dr: Existing foundations need a new kind of incubator to capture budding user consortia.

An open source user consortium is a consortium of companies who sponsor, steer, and possibly also develop open source software for their own use rather than as part of software products they sell. As explained previously, this phenomenon may not be widely understood yet, but the opportunity is large. The user consortia and their members stand to benefit, and so do those existing open source foundations that are able to capture this thrust and prevent the creation of separate consortia but rather manage to integrate these interests with their own governance structure.

The Eclipse Foundation is doing this in the form of so-called industry working groups and the Linux Foundation is doing this using their collaboration project approach. Both are not doing it well. The Apache Software Foundation is not doing it at all.

What is needed is a new form of incubation process that addresses the needs of these companies as they try to join forces to develop non-competitively-differentiating open source software for their own domain and needs. The end of the process may be projects and governance following the Apache Way, but in the beginning this way is unappealing and usually not well understood by these non-traditional players.

Having worked with user consortia, the main issue on their mind is: How to define the ecosystem of suppliers who provide products and services based on the open source software in question? User consortia both want freedom and guidance from a hosting foundation or they’ll do their own. In addition, user consortia worry more about clean and safe intellectual property than may be reasonable, but that’s just how it is (FUD is alive and kicking).

A foundation that can provide such freedom, support, and guidance will be an attractive place for user consortia who then wouldn’t have to incorporate on their own. There is nothing in the mission statement of the ASF that suggest it is restricted to the software industry only. It should have been the first to cater to non-software industry players and needs.

Over: The Apache Software Foundation (@TheASF) is Missing Out 1/4

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