Whatever happened to Stuart Cohen, former head of the OSDL, now part of the Linux Foundation?
He sent out a press release today, and it seems he's launched an effort called the Collaborative Software Initiative (CSI). The initials are cute, but the intent is to build open source application stacks for vertical markets, attracting more Value Added Resellers (VARs) to the space.
HP, IBM and Novell are all working with CSI, according to the press release.
While open source is big among large enterprises, it's not so big in the small business space, which lacks IT staff. Doctors, lawyers, and indian chiefs (non-casino) depend on re-sellers for their systems.
These re-sellers lie at the heart of Microsoft's market dominance. Along with small developers they form an ecosystem that can deliver specialized systems for small dollars which do what customers want, at a fraction of the cost of, say, IBM.
It has taken this field 25 years to mature. To call it "the channel" is to damn with faint praise. There is a whole lot more to it than that. We are talking here about industry knowledge, customer knowledge, and knowledge of government regulations, all tied together with software, hardware, networks and support.
This is the business that got Charles Simonyi into space. It has brought tens of thousands of others their own Moon Shots, namely paying to get the kids through college.
Linux has yet to develop such an infrastructure. The low-hanging fruit still lies with the big enterprises, and in the mass market. To use another space analogy, Cohen is still at the Sputnik stage. It will take many people many years to gain open source real market share in this tough segment.
But at least now the first steps are being taken.