OpenBRR Launches Closed Open-Source Group

The OpenBRR Corporate Community presents its closed membership as a way for CIOs and IT directors to safely share information, but some find this inappropriate.

NEW YORK—The Open Business Readiness Rating launched a new initiative designed to maximize open-source software knowledge across organizations at the Linux on Wall Street conference here on April 24.

While corporate and Wall Street CIOs and IT directors will be targeted as members of the new OpenBRR Corporate Community, the current plan is that membership will not be open to all.

Instead, membership will be on an invitation-only basis to ensure that only trusted participants are coming into the system, Murugan Pal, the founder and chief technology officer of open-source company SpikeSource, based in Redwood City, Calif., told some 20 attendees at the launch session.

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Pal also said there would be no membership dues and that each member could invite peers to participate.

However, he stressed that it was important that the information shared within the OpenBRR Corporate Community remain private, even though the group will be operating within the open-source community.

This will allow members to discuss sensitive issues and share information without having to worry that it would be made widely public, he said especially as the focus of the group is on members business needs and the shared goal of using open source to assist their businesses.

The OpenBRR—an initiative launched last August as a new standard model for rating open-source software—will also allow members to submit information and have their affiliations and names removed before the information is shared with others, Pal said.

"This will allow members who have information they know their peers need, but that they would normally not be willing to share, to do so," he said.

But some members of the audience expressed concern and unhappiness about the idea of the information discussed not being shared with the broader open-source community, with one suggesting such information could be "scrubbed first but still made available."

Pal responded that nothing was yet set in stone and, if enough potential members wanted the group to be open, or more open, this could be done.

The community plans to produce a monthly newsletter, Wiki threads, private discussion forums and e-mail lists, he said.

/zimages/1/28571.gifTo read what the father of the wiki had to say about community and collaborative development, click here.

George Pace, a systems architect at Prudential Financial and a member of the OpenBRR steering committee, said one of the biggest corporate IT challenges is that there are too many components, while another is the complexity of bug issues and fixes and the related support issues. The sharing of information between community members would hopefully help make such issues more manageable, he said.

Pace said the benefits of participating in this new community included the fact that it would allow members to have a say in many open-source community projects and their future feature sets, and to leverage commercial vendor offerings while participating in a group that was focused on a broad range of issues typically faced by larger companies.

"The guiding principles of this new community will be trusted, dedicated and self-moderated communities for sharing business-oriented open-source software information. The information shared will use the Creative Commons license and can then be published out to the community if so desired," he said.

Enterprise and corporate CIOs are faced with many product choices and alternatives, as well as with making decisions about new and legacy solutions, so being able to privately share information on these subjects is important, Pace said.

As an example, Pace pointed to the fact that there are more than a hundred versions of Linux based on a large number of distributions. "Why do we have 10 J2EE Frameworks today? For the life of me, I dont understand that," he said.

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