In early November, 2006, a group of leading open solutions and open source application developers got together to form an alliance dedicated to growing the market for enterprise classe open business solutions. Open source development had proven itself at the operating system and middleware layers but had yet to make a significant impact at the application level. ISVs participating in the OSA kickoff meeting identified three important areas where collective action could be successfull in lowering barriers to adoption of open solutions by business users:
Defining and promoting guidelines and best practices for interoperability between applications.
Fostering a multi-vendor "meta community" of users, developers, and systems integrators.
Driving advocacy and drive awareness about the benefits of open solutions for business customers.
All of those present agreed that none of these challenges could be readily addressed by any one vendor in isolation. Issues of awareness, interoperability and community are inherently collective in nature, such that collective action is required to address them. This led to the decision to create a trade association through which collective activity could be coordinated.
Most of the attendees at the kick-off meeting have chosen to become founding members of the OSA, including Centric CRM, Hyperic, Jaspersoft, Openbravo, and SpikeSource.
Getting To Work
In December 2006, The Open Solutions Alliance was incorporated as a 501c6 in the State of California, and the initial founding members officially joined during January 2007. Also in January 2007, in recognition that customer success requires active involvement from the whole open source ecosystem, we created additional membership classes for systems integrators and community organizations. Additional members have joined the original group, with more in the pipeline. Three working groups were established corresponding to the major opportunities identified at the kickoff meeting:
It is within these working groups that much of the important work of the OSA will be performed. It is the intention that the work to define approaches to interoperability will be conducted "in the open" at the OSA community website where participation from a broad audience of stakeholders will be encouraged and actively solicited.
As of its second anniversary, the Open Solutions Alliance is a broad organization of over 20 members, with more joining monthly, covering a broad array of application and infrastructure functionality, and an equally broad array of product, support, services and community development business models. An online community has been set up with workgroups and forums devoted to major areas of interoperability. Together, we form a strong force in the industry, working collaboratively to address the common challenges facing all of us.