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Following up on the Optaros Free and Open Source Software Policy ~ by Stephen R. Walli
Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 11:32 PM EDT

Following up on the Optaros Free and Open Source Software Policy
~ by Stephen R. Walli
V.P. Open Source Development Strategy

Back at the end of June, we published the Optaros Free and Open Source Software Policy. It was our statement of our belief of how we as a consulting services company have to engage with the free and open source community at large, and how we intend to run the business. PJ was kind enough to post the policy and some explanation on Groklaw. I was following up in a blog post to let people know we understand how to walk the walk, and that the policy wasn't simply "words on a page" so to speak. PJ asked me to write it up briefly for the Groklaw audience again.

Over the past few months:
  • We modified a key master services agreement such that a customer can release work-for-hire back to the appropriate communities. We have put in place a simple mechanism whereby we can agree with the customer and legally document areas that we can contribute code back that is part of the work-made-for-hire. As was pointed out in the comments in the original Groklaw post, customers of services companies typically own the work product. That is still very much the way the MSA reads, except we now have additional clauses in place to allow us to agree on work product to release with customer consent. We continue to work forward with enterprise customers to set up our services agreements to this end. As well as solutions faster (and cheaper) our customers are also learning the benefits of community development through us.

  • We are contributing code back in a couple of communities, notably new functionality for ActiveMQ (we have a developer that has earned a committer role on the project), and we are getting ready to submit code back to the Spring community.

  • We are building our own first community around an in-house developed application for SOX compliance auditing and litigation support (RADAR). We claimed our SourceForge site, and the code will go up in the next week. We're releasing it under the GPL. (Please join the project RSS feed if you want to know when the code arrives). This was a solutions experiment that we consider useful, want to evolve further, and saw no reason not to share out aggressively. A community may show up to participate with us or not, but locking it away would have been a waste of effort for everyone.

  • Dave Gynn has released (under the Apache license) his collection of run-time diagnostic tools which assist Java developers building Web applications, particularly using open source frameworks. He's using them inhouse developing applications for customers and thought others might find them useful as well. He's anchoring that community at

Even I've responded to a few support questions in the OpenOffice community as I get things to where I want them on my new Mac. This admittedly doesn't quite stack up to the development work listed above. It does still set the tone for our community engagement. It's a good feeling to know that no one else need necessarily go through the same learning curve or make the same mistakes I made. I've long maintained the economics of community is simple: you always get more than you give but you have to give first. Within a day of posting one solution I received notification of a fix in a release to a much bigger problem I was having.

As the management team at Optaros, we have nothing but commitment for our participation in open source communities and collaborative development, and for the continued growth of that participation. The company was started on that premise. The policy was merely an articulation of it. The proof remains in what we do.

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