Following Wednesday’s announcement of the formation of the Open Solutions Alliance (OSA) by a group of 10 vendors, Unisys said it would join the nonprofit consortium.
The OSA, which was announced at the LinuxWorld OpenSolutions Summit in New York, is dedicated to promoting comprehensive open source business solutions. In joining, Unisys becomes the first systems integrator to add its weight to the open source effort. The other members of the consortium are Adaptive Planning, Centric CRM, CollabNet, EnterpriseDB, Hyperic, JasperSoft, Openbravo, SourceForge.net, SpikeSource and Talend.
Systems Integration Expertise
“Unisys’ goal within the OSA is to bring application and systems integration expertise not only to the community and the alliance’s existing partners, but to all enterprises looking to leverage the advantages of open source software,” Anthony Gold, Unisys’ vice president and general manager for Open Source Business, told LinuxInsider.
The group will work with open source ISVs, systems integrators, and the broader open source community to improve interoperability among software products.
“More and more companies, from small businesses to global enterprises, are turning to open source software stacks for flexible, affordable solutions to their business challenges,” said Barry Klawans, acting spokesperson for OSA and chief technology officer at JasperSoft.
“We’re inviting all companies developing and using open source software to work together and ensure the availability of turnkey, enterprise-ready solution suites faster and at a fraction of the cost of traditional proprietary alternatives.”
As commercial open source providers, OSA’s member companies are united by the fact that they are facing many of the same issues, Klawans told LinuxInsider. “We’re finding the same barriers. Either businesses are looking for a complete solution, or they’re not even aware of open source. We’d like to get to the point where it’s a fair playing field.”
The OSA will begin by defining tools, frameworks and best practices that facilitate deployment and interoperability among applications. It will also build “meta-communities” for joint projects and coordinate marketing campaigns to raise awareness of open source applications.
“Our short term goals focus on increasing adoption of open source applications inside the business world,” Klawans stated. When companies are using open source products, it’s almost exclusively Linux and Apache — sometimes PHP or Tomcat, he added. “It’s never applications. That’s a problem facing the open source industry.”
A United Front
“This is a critically necessary step in driving open source higher into the value stack,” Mark Driver, research vice president at Gartner Group, told LinuxInsider. “It’s a long time coming, and I like what I see so far. There is no stronger force than the collective power of the open source community. This creates a unified front.”
“For so many end user organizations, open source is not even on the radar,” added Raven Zachary, senior analyst and open source practice head for The 451 Group. “I think there’s a huge growth opportunity for open source applications moving forward.”
Among the primary challenges the new OSA might face are the fact that there has been so much coverage of open source groups in the last few months, Zachary said, which could create a sort of fatigue and skepticism on the part of observers. “The challenge will be to show what’s unique, and to be crystal-clear on their mission.”
‘A Huge Step’
The fact that the group will be run on a volunteer basis by the partner members could also be challenging, Zachary told LinuxInsider, particularly as the organization grows. Finally, the conflict that could arise if members’ competitors also join the group is another potential obstacle that would have to be overcome, he added.
However, Zachary was impressed by the addition of Unisys to the effort, calling the inclusion of a diverse set of systems integrators critical to OSA’s success. “This is a huge step, ” he declared, “and very reassuring.”