U.S. open-source group opens chapter in Europe

Consortium of companies working on software interoperability cites Europe's abundant open-source projects.

The Open Solutions Alliance, a consortium working on interoperability of open-source software, has set up a European chapter due to the high number of community-developed software projects that have sprung up in the region.

"More open-source projects have originated in Europe than anywhere else in the world," said Bertrand Diard, chief executive officer of data-integration specialist Talend, a founding member of the Open Solutions Alliance. Founded a year ago, the OSA has had a U.S. focus until now.

The European chapter of the OSA will be formally incorporated in the next 90 days, and will then look for interoperability work required by European users.

"When the OSA got started, we saw our mission as a global one, but the critical mass of activity so far has been in the United States," said Dominic Sartorio, OSA president and senior director of product management at services company SpikeSource. "We were approached two months ago by a group of companies in Europe thinking of forming a group like ours but focused on Europe. This led us to think that while we are trying to achieve results globally, there are some parts of the world where we are doing less well."

Sartorio sees 2008 as turning point for open source. In late 2007, he promised that OSA would "out-Microsoft Microsoft" in response to a user survey that revealed a demand for interoperability among open-source tools.

"We have encountered other groups with a similar mission, like the United Kingdom's OpenForum, but they tend to focus on pure advocacy," said Sartorio. "The OSA focuses on business applications and their interoperability."

Open-source companies need interoperability because they are usually small and focused, he said. When they get bought by larger companies, this helps them integrate, but not all open-source companies have that option.

Open source is growing rapidly in Europe: in France, total spending on open-source services and products jumped 66 percent to US$1.07 billion in 2007, according to Paris-based analysts Pierre Audoin Conseil.

Other OSA chapters are expected elsewhere in the world. "Our chapter system is intended to scale around the world," said Sartorio. "I would expect by this time next year we will have chapters up and running in other regions enjoying strong open-source adoption, including Asia and Latin America."