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Codeplex hopes Walli can heal breach with open source

Stephen Walli's job is nothing less than healing the breach between Microsoft and the open source movement, through Codeplex.

The author of the blog "Once More Into The Breach" is now the technical director at the Codeplex Foundation.

It's fitting, because Stephen Walli's job is nothing less than healing the breach between Microsoft and the open source movement, through Codeplex.

How big is the breach? Even though the Codexplex Foundation is not Microsoft, and Microsoft has repeated this fact ad nauseum, one of Walli's first statements was that he "wasn't going back to work" for Microsoft.

That's partly because Walli is experienced with Microsoft, having sold a company to it back in the day and done a stint in Redmond as a business manager.

Despite its critics Codeplex has succeeded in carving out a unique identity in the open source world. It's where corporate code goes hoping to be brought back to life.

That's an important role, because the idea of open source remains controversial in some enterprise IT shops. While managers may accept the idea of "free code" they don't get the idea that they benefit from sharing their own code back, in the form of new projects.

One result of this attitude of "all take and no give" is that the same corporate IT managers berate open source as, you guessed it, "all take and no give." Windows is hurt by this attitude. Microsoft software can benefit from sharing just like Linux software can.

Microsoft has learned over the last five years open source is both give and take. This has been a wrenching process. Walli has been part of it. Part of his charge at Codexplex is helping other big organizations go through this process.

And one thing Codeplex officers have emphasized is that it is a process. In a large organization any major cultural change is a process. Individuals may just sign their code over to Sourceforge, but big enterprises need to create policies, and train people on them, before doing anything.

With his experience inside Microsoft, and inside that process, Walli has the knowledge base to help other organizations through the same changes. If he can do that he will go a long way toward healing the breach between corporate IT and open source, and in turn between Microsoft and open source.

What will heal that breach more than anything is valuable Windows code, available for download, brought out not by Microsoft but by others, through Codeplex.

Walli is now on that case. Once more into the breach.