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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Open Source Developers – Fresh Perspectives In Thinking Needed

(Via Iweek) No blinkers with only technology focus but sensitivity to IP issues and relationships with the open source community are the key shifts needed ,says the head of R&D for systems integrator ADP,based on experience of recent opensource migration/deployments.ADP Dealer Services provides line-of-business computing systems to car and truck dealership focusing on transactional applications, running on a myriad of unix platforms with some development using proprietary technologies. Some key learning from opensource deployments/migrations:.
- Developers need to be careful about origin of open source components, to be sure the code doesn't have licensing provisions that can cost their employers money in the future.
- Developers need to ensure mechanisms/relationships to get some-but not all-of their tech support from the open-source community & have a good contribution framework in place to give back to the opensource community.
- Intellectual property and open-source licensing were big concerns, requiring the developers to involve ADP's legal department closely in the development process.
- ADP prefers BSD to GPL as administration of IP is easier.
- Developers need to be educated not to download code from the Internet without informing managers, and to be sure the code is properly open-source licensed before incorporating it into proprietary software.
- Another mitigation strategy to avoid IP issue hassles is to use components from vendors like IBM that indemnify customers- The catch is that those companies' indemnification is voided if the user modifies the code, which eliminates one of the main benefits of open source.
- Another reason why companies need to think carefully about whether they want to modify, or "fork," open-source code for internal use, is that it entails the risk of losing support of the open-source community, as upon forking if the community doesn't like it, maintenance becomes a lifetime burden.
- The open-source community can be counted on for support in some areas. But other projects are uninteresting to the open-source community, and companies will have to either do those projects themselves or hire vendors to do the work.

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"All views expressed are my personal views are not related in any way to my employer"