One of the first Internet video hits I remember was Steve Ballmer, now Microsoft CEO, dancing around a stage chanting "developers, developers, developers."
He was making a serious point. Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and Value Added Resellers (VARs) are still keys to Microsoft's success, especially in the enterprise space.
Open source has never organized these people. It never organizes anyone. The heart of the movement is the idea of self-organization.
Finally, some of these people are doing just that. The Open Solutions Alliance is being debuted this week at LinuxWorld. With dues of $10,000 for ISVs, and $5,000 for VARs, the OSA hopes to "organize solutions," in the words of Barry Klawans, chief technology officer at JasperSoft, who is helping shepherd the group into being.
"We’re talking about business level advocacy," he explained. "We need to talk to sets of customers about open source applications, make them aware of what’s out there."
In addition, "We’re going to ask our members to represent the OSA at the vertical market shows. Don’t just talk about your software, but about solutions using other technologies."
This is not like Microsoft's centrally-controlled organization. This is all bootstrap. "Besides the dues we’re asking companies to donate 20% of someone’s time to the cause. Some of the members are already donating things in marketing, or in interoperability."
Amd before anyone in the OSA tries imitating Ballmer's dance, know that the key to the act is the audience reaction. Build the audience first. It consists of developers, developers, developers....