Enterprises Tap Open Source via Eclipse

Enterprise organizations are tapping the benefits not only of using open-source software, but of contributing to it by using the Eclipse model. The Eclipse Swordfish, Tigerstripe, Open Financial Market Platform and Open System Engineering Environment projects are all based on code contributed by enterprises that use open-source technology.

As an indication that the open-source model is beginning to mature and move beyond just ISVs and into the enterprise, Eclipse Foundation leaders say a new trend in Eclipse indicates that enterprises are beginning to develop and contribute code to Eclipse projects.

This means the promise and principle of open source has reached the enterprise, in that not only are enterprises adopting open-source technology for internal development projects, they are using it to develop technology that they in turn want to contribute back to the community.

Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, said he believes these enterprises are not simply contributing code for altruistic reasons, but also because they want to see the technology they have developed thrive.

The interesting thing is that some enterprises have decided to bring their own technology to Eclipse. Eclipse has primarily been a place for ISVs to share code and create projects based on core Eclipse technology that others could use. However, the common theme has been the prospect of using the code to build products for market.

If you lived in the Java world and did not have Eclipse in your arsenal or did not base your solutions on Eclipse you were in trouble. And vendors moved their technology to Eclipse in droves. Now it seems enterprise organizations are looking to Eclipse to help with their forays into the open-source world. Milinkovich says Eclipse is "well positioned" to help enterprises in their efforts, having been the location for ISVs for so long.

"The pattern we're seeing is in two major areas," Milinkovich said. The first, he said, is organizations interested in initiating collaboration with other organizations to create code they can use to better get their work done. "These are organizations looking for the benefits of open-source software, such as the meritocracy and the transparency, openness and long tail effect that open source offers," Milinkovich said. "They see it as a way to leverage the technology and create a level playing field."

The second pattern Milinkovich said he is seeing is that of organizations "using open source for asset protection." That is, contributing code they have developed so that it will be assured of having a life outside the organization.

Milinkovich cited the Eclipse Swordfish project, the Eclipse Open Financial Market Project and the Eclipse Open System Engineering Environment project as examples of the former pattern, and the Tigerstripe project as an example of the latter.