Update (28-Oct-2005, 16:04): A slightly expanded version of this post ended up on Groklaw at PJ's request.
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. I've always been as concerned/cynical as Matt Asay of companies talking the talk without walking the walk. As he points out:
... I sometimes worry that too many executives will spoil the original flavor of open source. By this I don't mean the "community," .... Rather, I mean the ethos of open source: giving back, collaboration, etc.
I wanted to follow-up with what we're doing since publishing our policy:
- We modified a key master services agreement such that the 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. We continue to work forward with enterprise customers to set up our services agreements to this end in the first place.
- We are contributing code back in a couple communities, notably 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 auditing (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.
- 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 anchoring that community at http://www.wtfigo.org.
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, although admittedly that doesn't quite stack up to the work I see happening around development projects within Optaros.
It is however 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 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.