CollabNet to the Rescue

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2005-03-14 Print this article Print

However, DrKW needed a platform on which to build its solution, and CollabNet provided it. Brian Behlendorf, founder and chief technology officer of CollabNet, said: "We feel there is a tremendous opportunity to improve the flexibility and effectiveness of software engineering organizations of any nontrivial size. Most large software companies have grown accustomed to incompatible developer groupware tools installed in disconnected environments, often resulting in wildly diverging development processes between teams even under the same roof and a lack of transparency between teams or up and down the organizational technology stack."

Behlendorf said CollabNet solved this problem by providing a repository for code versioning and management, issue and defect tracking, task management, project planning, team communications, and more. "This repository is globally accessible and consistent across even very dispersed teams—architects in London, product managers in Chicago, developers in San Francisco and Eastern Europe, QA [quality assurance] in India," he said.

Indeed, Howe said new contributors to the platform, inside and outside the investment bank, are making better software. In fact, the application has helped to recruit developers for DrKW, he said.

Although DrKW wanted to open-source from the start, it also wanted to do so without internal debate. The concern was with company insiders saying such things as, "Were a bank, not a software house" and "We spent good money developing this code; why give it away?" and "If it were any good, they wouldnt give it away," among other comments, Howe said.

When it launched in 2001, was visited more than 100,000 times a week during its first few months online, and hundreds of thousands of downloads have occurred since then, company officials said.

In open-sourcing the technology, DrKW needed help selecting a license. CollabNet suggested the Massachusetts Institute of Technologys X Window System license as a model, and DrKW agreed.

"Seeing ones open-source technology established as a standard in a marketplace can make it easier for others to do business with you, to plug into or on top of your technology," Behlendorf said. "It might also save tremendous costs associated with either licensing of commercial software or bearing the burden of development entirely within the company—thus freeing up resources to spend on other initiatives."

Howe said that working with CollabNet, DrKW set up The Software Conservancy to own the intellectual property in, "which made sense because it removed any potential liability from DrKW." The conservancy maintains the Web site, code repository and related systems.

Meanwhile, Howe said DrKW is working on its latest open-source project, known as Bhavaya, a Java library that delivers real-time, up-to-date access to databases.

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Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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