Community, Incorporated

Summary:If open source is going to succeed, that is long-haul succeed as a business and development model, companies and open source projects need to be a lot better at finding ways to work with one another. Without commercial partners, open source projects have a hard time progressing beyond the "nice, but not quite ready for prime time," stage.

If open source is going to succeed, that is long-haul succeed as a business and development model, companies and open source projects need to be a lot better at finding ways to work with one another. Without commercial partners, open source projects have a hard time progressing beyond the "nice, but not quite ready for prime time," stage. Without real community, corporate sponsored projects are simply source open projects rather than true open source projects. While that's nice for users, it really doesn't give the company the benefit of offering their code under an open source license.

The good news is, most companies are looking for ways to engage the open source communities. The bad news is, it's pretty obvious that this is uncharted territory for a lot of companies. Merging the corporate and the community isn't easy, and finding the right balance is more of an art than science.

So, the focus of my blog here on ZDNet will be on bridging the gap between external communities and the corporate parent, especially (but not limited to) companies working with or sponsoring (or both) open source projects. My experience with Novell since I've joined as the openSUSE Community Manager, and the years I spent as a reporter covering the open source beat, have given me a lot of insight in this area, but I'll also be talking to other community managers, community leaders, and others who do the same type of work for other companies.

In particular, I'm going to look at the mechanics of managing communities -- the do's and don'ts of working with open source communities, what communities can reasonably expect from their commercial partners and how to get it. When is a company acting in concert with contributors, and when is a company simply riding on the coattails of the community in an attempt to reduce costs and enjoy the perks of open source without actually earning them?

There's a lot to address, and I'm looking forward to having this conversation with the ZDNet community. I'd love to hear your feedback and experiences.

Topics: Open Source

About

Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier is the community manager for openSUSE, a community Linux distro sponsored by Novell. Prior to joining Novell, Brockmeier worked as a technology journalist primarily covering the Linux and FOSS beat, and wrote for a number of publications, such as Linux Magazine, Linux.com, Sys Admin, UnixReview.com, IBM developer... Full Bio

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