Stuart Cohen, formally CEO of OSDL who left during the merger with FSG, has started his own for-profit company focused on applications built on an open stack using open source methodologies. Cohen wanted OSDL to focus on more than just Linux, including open source applications, but the OSDL and FSG were really focused on Linux. Forming the Collaborative Software Initiative was a way for Cohen to lead a company focused on open source applications. This initiative is funded by OVP Venture Partners and has a strong advisory council including industry luminaries like Brian Behlendorf, Dan Frye, and Eben Moglen. They are also partnered with IBM, HP, and Novell.
According to eWeek, the company will
“focus on building non-competitive, essential software for vertical industries in a collaborative environment that helps companies solve shared IT problems. The business model for Collaborative Software Initiative is simple: Develop and support essential code that does not exist today and that meets the needs of competitors in vertical industries, such as financial services, at a significantly lower cost than if the companies were to develop such code internally or outsource it—and then support it.”(Quote from eWeek)
This is an interesting model, but the details are still unclear:
“CSI is taking a cue from open source methodology, but it’s not a “pure open source play,” says Cohen. Right now, CSI doesn’t have any specific licenses in mind to offer software under, though Cohen does say that they plan to open source the projects when they are mature, and indicated that they would prefer Open Source Initiative-approved licenses.” (Quote from Linux.com)
It will be interesting to see how well this works. Companies may not need a company like the Collaborative Software Initiative to help facilitate collaboration across industries. I also think that it will be difficult to provide support for a diverse range of vertical industry solutions, so I am skeptical about how well this will scale. I will also be curious to see whether communities will form around these efforts that are similar to the communities for other open source applications.
Despite my skepticism about the details and implementation, I really like the focus on open source applications. I do think that over time more applications will be built using open source methodologies building on the years of success that open source operating systems, infrastructure and tools have garnered. I hope that this initiative will lead to more successful open source applications.