Second Day OSBC Wrap up

The OSBC is now officially over and here’s my second day wrap up. The opening keynote consisted of Rob Curley, Marten Mickos and Lee Thompson. I had never seen Rob speak before, but he is extremely entertaining and had some very good information. He maintained that what him and his team were able to accomplish in Kansas would not have been possible without Open Source. Marten gave an update on where MySQL is and the variety of models he thinks can be successful in OSS. Lee gave a very good overview of how Open Source is being utilized at E*Trade. During the recent February market dip, they were one of the only brokers to not suffer performance problems. He attributed that to the use of Open Source directly.

How Big is the Exit? What is an Open Source Business Worth in 2007 and Beyond?
* There was a consensus that the public markets for Open Source companies are highly dependent on Red Hat. This is from a perspective that if Red Hat were to falter, the Open Source image would be sufficiently tarnished that other OSS companies would not receive new funding and valuations in general would suffer. I wrote about this a couple years ago. I think as time passes, this becomes less and less the case.
* Investors and VCs really seem to like to “subscription” model in OSS companies. I think it’s a very good model, but am less convinced it’s the one true path (one insinuated that OSS companies that tried something different were pretty much idiots for instance).
* With OSS you need to think about your customers with razor sharp focus. Find their pain points, solve their problems and you will be handsomely rewarded.

Is the Novell-Microsoft deal good for open source?
As you can imagine, this session was standing room only. Not hard to guess what the participants opinions were. LWN editor Jon – Bad. Novell rep Justin and Microsoft rep Sam – Good. The one surprise may have been Allison (if you don’t read her blog), who said it would probably be irrelevant. Some notes:
* Ballmer’s comments were definitely detrimental to the acceptance of the deal.
* If the deal would have been with someone else besides Microsoft, say IBM, it would barely have been news.
* Microsoft was the number one channel for SLES in Q1 2007.
* Microsoft has only gone on the offensive in patent litigation 2 times in its history. They are the defendant in about 30 cases or so in any one given point in time.
* Is Microsoft now a Linux distributor?
* AIG and BoA reps both seemed uninterested in the deal, saying it did not impact their buying decision.
* Would Microsoft consider joining the OIN?
* Customers are almost universally telling Microsoft that they want heterogeneous environments. 100%-anything seems to be a thing of the past

Community Development: Business Development for the 21st Century
* Open Source in a large way was started by disenfranchised developers
* For OSS companies, community management is about facilitation.
* Google lawyers actually have an SLA requirement for responding internally in some cases. Developers are that important.
* Many OSS communities are going from developers only to developers and users.
* The time and cost in fostering a community is easy to underestimate.

Overall a very good show, one in which I learned a good deal.

Note: For all these OSBC updates, items with * are not necessarily my opinions, just a summary of things that were said by various panelists.

–jeremy

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