Open Sourcers Flock to San Francisco for LinuxWorld
- By John K. Waters
The two or three holdouts who remain unconvinced that
open-source software is serious business should take a gander at my inbox. I
can't remember the last time I was bombarded with so many press releases, event
notices, and vendor-interview requests for a tech show. I feel likeDresden, circa 1945!
The tech show generating this furious electronic pelting is, of course, the
West Coast edition of the biannual LinuxWorld
Conference and Expo, underway this week in San
Francisco. More than 10,000 attendees are
expected to swarm into the Moscone Center for half a dozen
keynotes, 200-plus exhibitor displays, and more than a
hundred panels and sessions. Keynoters at this year's event include, among
others, Creative Commons founder and
Stanford law prof Lawrence Lessig, Intel's GM
Richard Wirt, and XenSource CEO Peter
Levine. The exhibitor list includes marquee names like IBM, HP, Motorola, Intel,
Oracle, SAP, and CA.
I shook a few vendor announcements from the shrapnel in my inbox that are
worth a pre-show heads up.
Two pieces of news from Black
Duck Software caught my eye: The compliance management solutions
provider is expanding the knowledge base of its flagship product, protexIP, with
more than 30 million software component signatures (which the company calls
''code prints'') from more than 1,000 software vendors. That's in addition to
''a couple billion'' code prints in the company's knowledge base, Black Duck CEO
Doug Levin told me. Even cooler: the company has arranged to include code prints
of all of the source and binary code published by Dr. Dobb's Journal
going all the way back to 1988.
Black Duck's analytical engine is designed to identify the pedigree of code
that's floating around an organization—basically sorting out the homegrown,
open-source, and third-party code. It then matches the appropriate OSS licenses and
warns of any potential copyright infringements. It also allows companies to
''code print'' their own code, so that they can, among other things, identify
instances of their own stuff that has leached out onto the Internet.
Figuring out who owns the code in an organization is a problem that just
keeps getting bigger, Levin said, especially in the open-source world. Levin's
company currently tracks 600 OSS licenses, many of which (I'm guessing most) are just minor
variations on the approved license.
''In the years to come, we're going to see more and more adoption of
heterogeneous components that are located on the Internet and integrated into
applications,'' he said. ''This is good news. The bad news is, companies can no
longer depend on the classic method of visual source code reviews, where
engineers sit and review the code.''
BTW: I understand that Levin named his Waltham, MA-based company after a
wounded American Black Duck that he found and nursed back to health when he was
seven years old. (Okay, I don't really know whether it's true, but it's a cute
I also had a chance to chat with Oracle's
ever-enlightening senior director of Linux engineering, Wim Coekaerts, about
the latest additions to the Oracle Validated Configurations program. Oracle
fired up this program in June with an initial roster of about 10 participants,
including IBM, HP, and Dell, among others. The company is set to announce today
the addition of Brocade
Communications Systems, Cisco Systems,
and Pillar Data Systems
to that lineup. Also expected: the publication of five new configurations that
have been tested by IBM, HP, and Dell.
Oracle Validated Configurations, Coekaerts
explained to me, are pre-tested and validated architectures that include
software, hardware, storage, and networking components, along with documented
best practices for deployment. Oracle and its strategic partners offer and
recommend these configurations to end-users, basically as the best way to run
the component stacks.
''When we get to the point where our partners have gone through all of this
testing, then going to Linux with any of our partners is identical to having any
traditional, old-school Unix system. And that's our goal here; we want to make
sure that Linux is totally equal to traditional Unix.''
Oracle is no newcomer to open source; the Redwood Shores, CA, database giant introduced a DB
that would run on Linux way back in 1998, and it later collaborated with leading
Linux distro Red Hat on its ''Unbreakable
Enterprise'' initiative. The company continues to maintain a Linux Kernel Group,
which works with Linux vendors and open sourcers on fixes and new functionality
for the open source OS.
The Oracle Validated Configurations are available now on the Oracle
SpikeSource , though,
was ahead of Oracle on the stack management front. The Redwood City,
CA-based company's LinuxWorld announcement is worth mentioning, not so much because
it's especially earth shaking—two new partners, CRM application vendor Centric CRM and collaboration server
because the company itself has been so interesting to watch. SpikeSource is
proving to be something of an industry bellwether, marking with its own
evolution the emergence of an OSS trend: the growing demand for
enterprise-oriented application support services.
The company provides a platform for deploying certified stacks of open-source
applications and ongoing management to enterprises. These are products they
don't own, but which they have tested and integrated into a one-click deployment
package. Its portfolio of SpikeCertified and SpikeIgnited solutions are
delivered with a comprehensive update and support service called Spike Net.
SpikeSource's initial, somewhat vague strategy of providing ''business ready
open source'' has come into sharp focus recently around small and medium size
enterprises (SMEs), which they serve through value-added resellers (VARs). The
company now has close to 50 channel partners, SpikeSource director of product
management Corey Williams told me, including the wildly popular SugarCRM and a well-respected Web
content management solution called Drupal.
''Under the covers, the proprietary vendors are starting to leverage open
source more and more,'' Williams said. ''It's the only way they can begin to
scale and compete. But they're still trying to do all of the solution
development in-house. But unless you embrace a community that allows features to
be built based on merit and community demand, you just don't get the key
advantages of open source.''
SpikeSource is in the exhibit hall as part of the Novell MarketStart
pavilion. And the company's CEO, Kim Polese, is participating in a panel
discussion with Centric CRM prez David Richards and others on Tuesday afternoon
(''An Enterprise Open Source Success Story In the Fortune'').
Lots more coming from this humungo show. Stay tuned.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached