Nick Allott writes a great blog (and it’s very long but well worth a read) on his blog about Open Source sustainable development
A synopsis is:
New software technology, whether PC or mobile, is now dominated by open source. Android, Chrome, Symbian , Webkit, Apache, Eclipse, Meego, Linux, Limo, Ubuntu, Mozilla, QT, Phonegap collectively and individually are powerful forces that determine not only the future directions of technology, but by implication the future successes of companies involved in any of the industries touched by these projects.
This article has a singular purpose: to explore what the shape and structure of a successful open source project looks like. And by success I mean not only, where is it today, but are the incentives there to sustain interest and development in the platform. For every open source success, there are many stagnating in a source code repository graveyard
In the context of webinos, the project I am currently working on, this is relevant for two reasons
1. We need to build on top of other open source operating systems. When we make the selection of which platforms to prioritise, we need to be aware of the risks and benefits of different open source project configurations
2. Webinos will itself be and open source project. When we construct the mechanics of its operations, we want to do so based upon best practice.
The reality of open source projects is that they require significant investment: hundreds of thousands of man hours in many cases. And this investment is in most cases corporately sponsored. Corporates require a return on investment; whether you can see it or not the company investing effort into a collaborative initiative such as an open source project is doing so for financial gain. Moreover, corporates are “compelled” to compete; shareholders expect returns above the market norm.
These considerations are essential if we are to build a sustainable healthy, open source community.
A successful, sustainable open source community requires that multiple competing companies must continue to invest, on and ideally equal basis, into the collaborative activity.
In this article, therefore I am going to cover several points.
1. Go over some of the theoretical background on and why companies do (and don’t) invest in open source, and also look at the principle dimensions of how they are legally constructed
2. Business models: an effective collaborations of corporates, more so than individuals, requires that all parties are comfortable with each others motivations. Why am I engaged? Why are you engaged?
3. Finally, Ill look at some evaluation metrics – can we establish the parameters by which we can evaluate the probable sustainability of an open source project. And to validate this look at how different platforms measure up.