Classifying Open Source User Consortia

An open source software user consortium is a non-profit organization (foundation, consortium, working group) created for the purpose of funding and managing the development of non-differentiating open source software made available to foundation members and the general public. Its purpose is to establish a software ecosystem in which vendors and suppliers can provide products and services on an equal playing field to the software user companies. User companies are everyone who needs software and who is not a software company.

We are currently sampling what’s out there (and there is plenty, see recent prior posts on the topic). Examples are the Kuali Foundation or the openKONSEQUENZ consortium or the OpenMDM working group. For sampling, we want to understand the differences between these organizations.

Two obvious dimensions are:

  1. Use-case: In products or for operations
  2. Organizational: Stand-alone or embedded

As to 1, the use-case. The non-software companies of the user consortium obviously need software, but they may want to use it in at least two different ways: As part of products they sell, or as part of their operations. An example of using the software in products, the automotive industry provides good examples. It sponsors, sometimes as user consortia, and participates in the development of open source software for the infotainment stack. This software ships as part of a car, the product. An example of use in operations is the oK consortium of energy distribution system operators. It sponsors the development of open source software it needs to operate its control room.

As to 2, one can observe stand-alone consortia (Kuali, oK) and embedded consortia, for example, Eclipse industry working groups like OpenMDM or Linux Foundation collaboration projects like LF Energy.

What other distinguishing factors do you see?

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