Workshop on Open Source, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

The Chair for Economic Policy (Prof. Andreas Freytag) at the Friedrich-Schiller-University and the Max Planck Institute of Econonics, Jena, Germany, are organizing a workshop on “open source, innovation, and entrepreneurship.” It takes place next week, on Jan 14, 2010. It used to be a private, invitation-only workshop, but the organizers decided to open it up to the general public.

The workshop program (PDF) consists mainly of invited speakers from economics and related departments around the world; I guess it is more of a small symposium than a workshop in any way. I’ll be giving the closing keynote of the event talking about “why open source is hard for closed source vendors.”

Participation is free but you’ll have to cover your travel and accommodation costs, if any. If you are interested in participating, please contact Sebastian von Engelhardt.

Four Months of Open Source Professorship

2009 is coming to an end and so are my first four months as a professor. Time to take stock, if only shortly.

All in all, a good end to a year that most of us would prefer to forget. But as Matt Asay is suggesting, this may have been the year that Open Source made it big, so this is something to celebrate!

Stay tuned for upcoming research work on open source, using this blog’s RSS feed, or the OSR group’s home page and RSS feed, and of course the @dirkriehle and @osrgroup Twitter streams!

And of course a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2010 to everyone!

2010 Open Source Research Workshops Galore!

It is no big news that open source research has been growing strongly in recent years. However, the recent string of conference and workshop announcements is just amazing. Here is a short run-down of what reached me the last two weeks:

These are all international academic/research open source research events!

Open Source Vendor Lock-in

Yesterday, SAP’s CTO Vishal Sikka called for a more open approach to the Java standardization process (JCP), asking SUN to stop ruling it with a heavy hand. Not surprisingly, he got some pushback using the argument that SAP isn’t one to talk about being more open, given its slow involvement with open source.

I don’t think that this is a fair critique. SAP has always provided the source code of its main business applications suite to user-customers as part of a commercial license, and users have always customized SAP’s business suite to their heart’s content. In fact, it is the only way to make it work for their needs.

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Talk Slides: Design Pattern Density Defined

Here the slides for my OOPSLA Onward! 2009 talk on “Design Pattern Density Defined.” First the abstract:

Design pattern density is a metric that measures how much of an object-oriented design can be understood and represented as instances of design patterns. Expert developers have long believed that a high design pattern density implies a high maturity of the design under inspection. This paper presents a quantifiable and observable definition of this metric. The metric is illustrated and qualitatively validated using four real-world case studies. We present several hypotheses of the metric’s meaning and their implications, including the one about design maturity. We propose that the design pattern density of a maturing framework has a fixed point and we show that if software design patterns make learning frameworks easier, a framework’s design pattern density is a measure of how much easier it will become.

The talk slides are available as a PDF file and are licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 license.

For a discussion of the talk’s contents I recommend reading the original article.

Open Access and Open Source

This morning, I read that the main Swedish research funding agency has decided to enforce open access to research results of projects it funds. This is a big deal for Swedish researchers relying on these funds: The status of a researcher is determined by the prestige of the journals in which they publish (and how much they publish). Many of these journals are not open access but rather require hefty fees to give you access. Hence, researchers might not be getting some of the expected reputation for their work.

Such a requirement is likely to come down the pipe in many other countries as well. Its impact on the academic publishing industry is not to be underestimated, it is nothing short of Schumpeterian. Economics is aligning itself against the publishers of high-priced journals. As open access journals as well as professional organizations like the ACM show, it is possible to have a publishing process at a much cheaper price tag than those of the likes of Elsevier and Springer.

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OpenOffice.org at Oracle After The Sun Acquisition

Yesterday, I participated in the local JUG’s discussion of the Sun acquisition by Oracle. Somewhat to my surprise, the general opinion was dismissive of OpenOffice’s future at Oracle. I haven’t spent much prior thought on this, but to me, OpenOffice seems to fit much better with Oracle than with Sun, at least on a strategic level. The reasoning is quite simple: OpenOffice can help Oracle’s application business.

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Why Open Source is Hard for Closed Source Vendors (Alpha Release)

It is difficult for many closed source software vendors to embrace open source. Why is this so? After all, over the last years we have come to understand the many business benefits of employing open source as part of a software vendor’s strategy toolbox. In this presentation, I make a first attempt at answering this question (and also include a few remedies). In a nutshell,

open source is hard for closed source vendors, (1) because they have a different risk/reward profile than startups and have a higher fear around legal uncertainties, (2) because they would have to undergo substantial and painful organizational change, easily involving lay-offs, and (3) because current sales incentives are not set up to support cross-selling open source.

This presentation is an alpha release, which is to say, I doubt I’ve nailed it all. Please tell me what you think I’ve missed or where you dis/agree with my thoughts! Because of this, I maintain full copyright of the presentation. Later revisions will hopefully include your feedback (and give proper credits) and will be released under the Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 license.

The presentation is available as a PDF file.