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.
Creating the Open Financial Market Platform
Germany’s Deutsche Post contributed code that got the Swordfish project going, Milinkovich said. The goal of the Swordfish project is to provide an extensible SOA (service-oriented architecture) framework that can be complemented by additional open-source or commercial components such as a service registry, a messaging system or a BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) engine to form a comprehensive open-source SOA run-time environment based on both established and emerging open standards, the Eclipse Web page describing the project said.
Boeing contributed code that got the OSEE (Open System Engineering Environment) project going. According to its Eclipse Web page, “OSEE provides a tightly integrated environment that supports lean engineering. It is integrated around a simple, user-definable data model to eloquently provide bidirectional traceability across the full product life cycle including: architecture and design, requirements management, implementation, verification, and validation.”
Kauthing Bank contributed code that got the Open Financial Market Platform project going. According to its Eclipse Web page, “The Open Financial Market Platform … project’s goal is to build an extensible, component-based Financial Market Platform based on industry business requirements and state of the art technologies.”
And, for its part, Cisco Systems contributed code to get the Eclipse Tigerstripe project started. According to Eclipse, “Tigerstripe is a framework for Model Driven Engineering … with special support for the telecommunications industry.”
All of these are Eclipse projects and all but Swordfish were built directly on top of or using Eclipse technology. However, Swordfish is being reworked so that it uses the Eclipse Equinox OSGi (Open Services Gateway Initiative) packages, Milinkovich said.
Milinkovich said he expects more and more enterprises to begin to take part, particularly as they begin to adopt more open-source software into their IT organizations. “We saw it first with the ISVs, and now enterprises are going through this same scenario, except that [they’re] about five to 10 years behind the ISVs,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Eclipse Foundation recently tweaked its membership rules to enable end-user organizations to join the group. Yet, of the four examples listed, Cisco is the only one that is a member of the Eclipse Foundation. And the company became a member several months after contributing the OSEE code, Milinkovich said. He said he had no indication as to whether or when more enterprises might join Eclipse.