Open-source firms team up for interoperability

Open Solutions Alliance hopes to make open-source software programs work better together.
Written by Stephen Shankland, Contributor
A group of open-source software companies has banded together to try to ensure their products work well with one another, an effort aimed at matching the tight integration of competing products from proprietary software companies such as Oracle, IBM and Microsoft.

Founding members of the group--called the Open Solutions Alliance--include Centric CRM, EnterpriseDB, JasperSoft and SpikeSource. The companies plan to announce the group's formation Wednesday at the Open Solutions Summit, an open-source conference in New York.

"Some of the big proprietary vendors have a notion of full-blown suites and some promise of interoperability," said Michael Harvey, chief marketing officer of Centric CRM and one of the people who helped form the alliance. "None of the open-source application companies has fully built-out suites. We're going to work together to try to re-create some of that value for the user."

For example, the work could make it easier for customers using Centric's customer-relations software to use JasperSoft's data-mining software to plumb customer records for particular information, Harvey said.

However, some potential allies are conspicuously absent from the list--for example, database seller MySQL, customer relationship management software maker SugarCRM, Linux and server software seller Novell and open-source business poster child Red Hat, seller of Linux and Java server software.

Indeed, Red Hat and Novell are involved in a separate effort that Microsoft launched in 2006, the Interop Vendor Alliance that also involves several proprietary companies such as BEA Systems and EMC as well as open-source advocates SugarCRM, XenSource and Sun Microsystems. Red Hat announced its involvement in the alliance Tuesday. Red Hat's work involves a close connection between Windows and Red Hat's JBoss software for running Java on servers.

Harvey said his group began with a smaller, faster-moving group but now has made contact with some missing companies. The alliance is having "positive discussions" with Red Hat, Novell, MySQL and SugarCRM, he said, and Microsoft "knows what we're doing and has expressed interest."

The Open Solutions Alliance will work on documenting guidelines and best practices; unifying digital identity management; settling open-source license management issues; and hashing out technical support partnerships. There are separate committees for interoperability, marketing and involvement of open-source community members.

Other founding members of the group include Adaptive Planning, CollabNet, Hyperic, Openbravo, SourceForge.net and Talend. GroundWork Open Source plans to announce on Wednesday that it has joined the group.

Editorial standards