Discovering open source for the enterprise

18Oct07

btlovesos1.jpgOver the past couple of weeks, I’ve been involved in a number discussions/emails on how open source plays in the enterprise space within BT, now and going forward. A couple of issues, both internal and external have bubbled up recently and I’ve luckily been getting involved because of my role on the Osmosoft team. This involvement has given me the fantastic opportunity to refresh and increase my knowledge of open source in the enterprise, which until just recently was only as deep as the basic articles in business magazines/websites that I usually read. I won’t dive into all of the messy details of our internal issues, as we’re still getting all of the background information and people involved at this point, but suffice to say, we could be doing a bit more to strengthen BT’s involvement with the open source community.

Open source in the enterprise is a fairly well covered topic with a number of magazines and websites already dedicated to the topic, so it’s safe to assume this is not new ground we’re breaking here. Far from it, we’re just catching up to many corporations who have already identified open source as a competitive advantage, with IBM being one of the best examples. BT, and our numerous research labs in Adastral Park and elsewhere, has been trialling with and implementing open source software/solutions/products for at least the past ten years if not longer. What we seem to be missing is a cohesive strategic direction for open source that spans group wide. Our CTO and Design organizations have led this area, but with the amount of energy that currently surrounds open source within BT, I would have guessed we would already have a much more formal strategic direction, rather than the existing segmented policy that differs from one line of business to another. I guess it’s about time we remedies this shortcoming…

Osmosoft and thus BT, contributes a tremendous amount to the open source projects and communities with TiddlyWiki as the obvious example and many others that I haven’t yet stumbled across. All of this is timed very well, with the addition of Osmosoft to BT, and one of our core goals being the much tighter involvement of BT and the open source community. I’m enjoying this opportunity and great learning experience to work with BT’s community surrounding open source, to identify and agree on the best way for us to embrace and interact with the wider community. I’m hopeful we’ll be able to increase the potential for and visibility of open source across BT and gain the right senior sponsorship to formalize our firm’s future and open source.

We’re still early on in the adventure, and lots of good progress and cool stuff is coming. As we make headway, I’ll be sure to share with everyone our progress.  Stay tuned for more updates!

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