Open source is a journey for many companies as they move through a process that seems a bit like magic when releasing an open source project. Recently at LinuxCon Europe, Wolfgang Ries, CMO at Fujitsu Enabling Software Technology GmbH, talked about the company’s open source journey and how they still think of themselves as apprentice contributors in the process of learning how to improve their open source contributions.
Ries began by talking about how open source is a bit like magic, referring back to Arthur C. Clarke’s quote, “Every sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” He says, “If you look at all the social problems that open source can solve, it becomes even more obvious that open source is really magic.”
One example, is the National Ebola Response System in Sierra Leone, which was built using open source software, and in Sierra Leone, open source software is credited with restoring the “faith in the ability of government to be able to run its systems honestly.” He mentioned another example from DefCon at the DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge, which was designed to show computers fixing other computers. An open source project won the DARPA prize, and he suggested that “you could think of it as open source actually being able to fight Skynet in the future.” If all of this is a bit like magic, he suggests that “you have to be careful with how you deal with it” to avoid things going horribly wrong, like when the apprentice tries to do magic without the master being around in the The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Open Source Catalog Manager
About a year ago, Fujitsu created the Open Service Catalog Manager (OSCM), their first full software project contribution to the open source space. Ries describes this a “winding road” where they moved through several different steps to ultimately release the OSCM as an open source project. They started with “Consensus Ridge” to decide whether Fujitsu should even do this as an open source project, which was easily answered because so many of their customers and the industry are demanding open source solutions.
The next hurdle was the “Confidence River” where it took a bit of time to evaluate patent risk, security, and other architectural considerations to decide whether they had what it takes to create this open source project. The next phase on their journey was through the “Mechanics Maze” to figure out exactly what online materials, documentation and other resources were needed to make OSCM a success. “Governance Desert” was the next section of the winding path to select a license, contributor processes, and other governance considerations. The final stop on their journey is at “Community House” where Ries admits that they are at LinuxCon to “entice people to join” and build a community around OSCM.
To get more details and learn about contributing to OSCM, watch the entire keynote below.