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.

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The Scope of the Opportunity 3/4

tl;dr: The scope of the opportunity at hand is large, much larger than today’s impact of open source.

The software industry is large; all other industries together that need software are larger. Much larger.

Today’s open source software is mostly serving the needs of software vendors. When you look at the projects guided by the ASF, the EF, or the LF, you’ll see a lot of infrastructure, technology, and utility components for the software industry. There are not a lot of components for application domains, be it banking, energy, logistics, or agriculture.

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Does the Incorporation Type Matter to Open Source Foundations? 2/4

tl;dr: It doesn’t really matter how a foundation incorporates; what matters is the actual governance.

A typical response to the creation of new open source foundations is to decry them as “vanity foundations”. In a few instances, that may be true, but I think as a generalization it is not correct.

Usually, companies think first before spending significant money on something, in particular if it is of high visibility and might turn into an embarrassement. This doesn’t mean they always fully understand what they are doing. In fact, I believe that the understanding of companies of what open source means to them and how they want to support and steer its development is ever evolving. After a learning period these “vanity foundations” might just end up with a project and governance structure like the ASF’s.

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

tl;dr: The ASF is not serving the needs of companies from outside the software industry well.

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) is the original gold standard of open source foundations. Yet its project and governance model takes a one-size-fits-all approach that is holding beginners to such high standards that they may never get started with the ASF. Because of my high regard for the ASF, it is frustrating to me that it is missing out on a major development in the open source space. Hence this thread.

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Mike Milinkovich on Open Source Consortia @mmilinkov

Mike Milinkovich’s talk at OSS 2015 on “How the Eclipse Community Works”


  • Trend #1: Software über alles (ref: Software is eating the world)
  • Software is becoming the value-creating differentiator (impl: hardware is getting commoditized faster than software)
  • Trend #2: Quoting Immelt (GE): Every industrial company will become a software company
  • Milinkovich: Then, every company is becoming an open source company; also, software avg unit cost approaches zero
  • Many companies will not be able to pivot fast enough from license sales to new business models; they will fail Continue reading “Mike Milinkovich on Open Source Consortia @mmilinkov”

Open Source for the Energy Sector (in German)

A progress report towards an open source foundation for the energy sector (in German) that I initiated and am currently guiding. The article dates back to February already, but I got a hold of it only now.

Konsortiale Open-Source-Softwareentwicklung im Energiesektor

Christof Heinritz, Peter Herdt, Stephan Janeck, Gerhardt Regenbogen, Dirk Riehle, Frank Rose, Michael Roth, Detlef Thoma, Michael Tuchs.

Der Ausbau der Energie- und Wassernetze, neue Steuerungskonzepte für eine verstärkte Einspeisung von erneuerbaren Energien (EEG) sowie erhöhte Anforderungen an die IT-Sicherheit als Bestandteil der kritischen Infrastruktur sind einige der Themen, welche die Netzbetreiber mit ihrer technisch orientierten IT in naher Zukunft meistern müssen.

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Open-Up Camp in Nuremberg February 14-16, 2014 (in German)

On Feb 14-16, 2014, the OpenUp Camp about all things open (practitioner) will take place in Nuremberg. Feb 14 is the “business day” and it will have a focus in open source user foundations, to which I’ll make a contribution:

Prof. Dr. Dirk Riehle, FAU, berichtet über aktuelle Forschung zum Thema Open-Source-Anwenderkonsortien. Er geht hierbei auf die zugrunde liegenden wirtschaftlichen Strukturen und das zu etablierende Ökosystem ein. Am Beispiel der Kuali Foundation, welche seit 10 Jahren die Software für amerikanische Universitäten entwickeln lässt, wird Motivation und Gewinn für Anwender und Hersteller gleichermassen diskutiert.

Looking forward to the event and see you there!

A Model of Open Source Developer Foundations

Abstract: Many community open source projects are of high economic relevance. As these projects mature, their leaders face a choice of continuing the project as is, making the project join an existing foundation, or creating their own foundation for the project. This article presents a model of open source developer foundations that project leaders can use to compare existing foundations with their needs or to design their own. The model is based on a three-iteration qualitative study involving interviews and supplementary materials review. To demonstrate its usefulness, we apply the model to nine foundations and present their organizational choices in a comparative table format.

Keywords: Open source; open source developer foundation; developer consortium; user foundation; user consortium; software industry

Reference: Dirk Riehle, Sebastian Berschneider. “A Model of Open Source Developer Foundations.” In Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Open Source Systems (OSS 2012). Springer Verlag, 2012. Page 15-28.

The paper is available as a PDF file.