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Making the Most of the Underpinnings of Open Source

Lots of people talk about the growing success of open-source software, says Winston Damarillo, but few recognize that much of that success comes from technical underpinnings that make open source work.

"How do you combine contributions from a lot of people from all over the world—fragments of software—and successfully assemble them into something usable and maintainable over time at a faster rate of innovation than any closed-source center?" Damarillo asks. "The first and most obvious answer is the Eclipse framework. What’s not so obvious, and what delivers an incredible amount of value, is a framework that provides the software lifecycle management piece."

Damarillo founded his new startup, Mergere, to provide that framework to enterprise customers and large ISVs. "We didn’t want just to change the way people consume software," Damarillo tells AppTrends. "We wanted to change the way they integrate and write software."

Launched last November, Mergere sells subscription-based support, training and consulting for the Apache Software Foundation's Maven and Continuum projects. Mergere's automated solution stack is built on these two open-source projects. One of the company’s co-founders, software architect Jason Van Zyl, is the founder of the Apache Maven project.

As the first open-source build system, Maven is designed to manage software projects in distributed, heterogeneous development ecosystems. It is based on a unified Project Object Model (POM) architecture, which consists of metadata describing clear, consistent phases for producing project artifacts. The latest version, Maven 2.0, delivers transparency and control during build processes for any Java-based project.

Continuum is designed to enable continuous integration by automating the testing, packaging, installation and deployment phases of the software build.

Together, Maven and Continuum provide build orchestration and management tools that allow enterprises to leverage the advantages of agile, open-source development methods, Damarillo says. They enable application and IT development organizations to efficiently integrate open, licensed and internally developed source code. And they support the rapid adoption of Community-oriented Real-time Engineering (CoRE) practices.

Mergere's support for Maven and Continuum gives businesses access to previously unavailable, commercially supported open-source solutions for build automation, development lifecycle management and corporate software compliance.

This isn't Damarillo's first bite of the open-source apple. As managing partner of the venture partnership Simula Labs (Mergere’s backer), he is in the business of identifying, nurturing and launching open-source software companies. His freshman effort was Gluecode Software, an open-source app server vendor with an integrated, Apache-based stack. IBM bought that company in May. Damarillo believes that sale validated the Simula concept. He calls his experience with Gluecode the "scratch-claw-and-struggle years."

"We made a few millionaires with that deal," he says. “We want to build six to eight more Gluecodes.”

Simula's second company, LogicBlaze, provides the open-source ActiveMQ messaging platform, a JMS integration solution, and ServiceMix, an open-source enterprise service bus and SOA toolkit. Mergere is Simula's third startup.

“We believe that the concept of community-oriented and real-time engineering is going to propagate long term,” he says. “It’s going to be how software is developed. The leading approach, tested by more than a thousand projects in more than seven thousand components, comes out of the Apache Maven project.”

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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