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Sun's Open Source Push Gathers Speed
Chief OSO Simon Phipps Spearheads Welter of New Initiatives
By: Open Source News
May. 2, 2006 10:15 AM
"For Sun," said Simon Phipps (pictured) in a recent interview, "the open source message is a very natural 21st century expression of how Sun has been doing business for more than 20 years." Given that Phipps is Chief Open Source Officer at Sun, it is hardly surprising that he should be keen on what he sometimes calls, engagingly, the Zen of Free. With Phipps as OSO, Sun under Jonathan Schwartz is assured of a vibrant and high-profile role in the open source community.
"Open source is a virtuous cycle. Creating a source commons and sharing code among a group of developers creates reciprocal value. The software is used and maintained by a group of developers who build products, create offerings, and compose works that are of value to them and may be of social value and perhaps they are paid for creating those products and offerings. What is more, in the process of creating those things, the software craftspeople contribute innovation and value back into the source code commons that everyone is relying on."
The three main components of Sun's open source vision were also the theme of the keynote address that Phipps gave at OSCON Europe 2005, where he recommended "fewer licenses, new and improved business models, and balanced governance through standards and open formats."
"At the heart of every successful open source community are three major components: licensing, business models, and governance. These form what Simon calls the 'DNA triangle of open source'. Emphasizing one over the other leads to poor management and diseased communities where developers, distributors and end users lose freedom and purpose. For the virtuous cycle to be complete, the open source community must move forward in each of these areas."So Phipps' belief, nutshelled, is that the open source model is an extremely natural vehicle for business success and ongoing innovation: "The more people that join, the more potential there is for all of the participants to derive value from the shared work that everyone is collaborating on."
In a veiled reference to a certain software company in the north west, he continues:
"The Sun approach to the computer industry has been marked by a desire to create markets in which Sun can be successful and profitable. Sun does not believe that the way to be successful is to kill the competition and create a monopoly. Sun believes that if you create markets and you have a share in those markets, you can keep those markets growing, and your profitability and success will continue to grow."All in all, whether through these kinds of speeches or through his blog, Phipps has certainly earned his reputation as one of the most inflouential voices in the open source community. Another feather in his cap is that he is responsible for setting up an Ombudsman to help the Open Source community interact with Sun.
And just last week, Phipps took another huge step, by releasing this three-category model he's been using for classifying open source licenses - mostly for internal use at Sun. He fostered the release of a a white paper, "Free and Open Source Licensing," explaining in meticulous detail the approach Sun takes.
"I would welcome constructive feedback," he says. "Feel free to pass this on, it is Creative Commons licensed, and let me know if it proves useful."
Enterprise Open Source Magazine (and Java Developer's Journal) readers are encouraged to take him up on the offer.
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