Open Source Think Tank: The Way Forward

I have just finished attending the Fifth Annual Open Source Think Tank, hosted by Andrew Aitken and I at Meritage in Napa Valley.  Andrew and his team did a great job of organizing the event. The Think Tank is a great forum for discussing the important questions facing the industry, but equally important, we have structured the Think Tank to provide plenty of time to meet and get to know other attendees (more on that later!). Colin Bodell, VP Web Platforms for Amazon, said it best:  he always leaves with a thick sheaf of new cards and many new relationships.   I provided my annual summary of Open Source Legal Developments, including both 2009 and 2010 (you can see the powerpoint at

This year, we focused the discussions on commercial problems through the use of three formal “business cases” with detailed facts and questions:

  1. Public Sector: How should the State of California adopt and manage open source?
  2. Mobile Sector: Selecting a Mobile Platform for Application Development
  3. Cloud Computing and Open Source

Much of the discussion was focused on the cloud and how it will effect open source.  The opinions ranged across the spectrum: many participants saw the cloud as a great opportunity for open source, but a smaller (but vocal) group noted that the cloud could be a major problem for the open source model. In particular, the concern is that with cloud vendors taking responsibility for the “software stack” customers will be less concerned about open source advantages, leaving such issues to the cloud vendor.  As more companies move to the cloud, the customers of open source companies will shift from end users to cloud vendors: consequently, open source companies could have fewer and more sophisticated customers. Continue reading.

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