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July 2007
Guest contributors
OW2: a global platform to encourage the creation and development of Open Source ecosystems
Interview with Jean-Pierre Laisné,
Chairman of OW2 and Director of Bull Open Source initiatives
At the beginning of 2007, the ObjectWeb Open Source consortium (founded by Bull, France Telecom and INRIA) merged with OrientWare to become OW2. The objective was to become the leading global consortium dedicated to Open Source middleware, in Europe, America and in Asia. In just a few months, OW2 has succeeded in bringing together 46 members (including Red Hat) and 6,000 developers worldwide. Where is it going, and what’s on the horizon? Interview with Jean-Pierre Laisné, Chairman of OW2.

In just a few short years, ObjectWeb really made a name for itself. So why create OW2?
Since it was established in 2002, ObjectWeb has proved the effectiveness of its Open Source consortium model, bringing together industry players, research institutes and universities to develop Open Source middleware technologies. ObjectWeb consortium has not only inspired many technological advances, but it has also generated a lot of enthusiasm among its members, and keen interest from industry analysts. Most notably, ObjectWeb featured in several of Gartner’s ‘Magic Quadrants’. Today, the very fact of its success is causing the world of Open Source to evolve. There is a real step-change. The globalization phenomena we are observing in the economy are starting to take shape in the Open Source world. Although ObjectWeb had a strong profile in Europe and in the USA, we were not very visible in the rest of the world, despite the fact that the contributions of emerging economies – particularly Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) – are starting to grow. OW2 was born from a desire to meet these challenges head on. The last ObjectWeb board meeting therefore set two objectives: to strengthen internationalization, and to increase synergy with both industry and the marketplace.
OW2 is the outcome of this initiative, and of opportunity to associate itself with emerging communities in Asia and Brazil, particularly OrientWare in China. The quantitative leap is huge: at the present time, the new group (ObjectWeb + OrientWare = OW2) has 46 members, involves more than 100 organizations and 6,000 developers, from Asia to America, and including Europe, working a hundred high-technology Open Source projects, as well as initiatives that address problems in the marketplace or in individual market sectors: eGovernment, service-oriented architecture (SOA), telecoms and business intelligence...

Thanks to players like Red Hat, the Open Source market is consolidating. How is OW2 positioning itself?
OW2 is right at the heart of this movement, and there is a high degree of osmosis. The concepts of ecosystems, synergy and collaboration are key to Open Source. OW2 precisely combines all the necessary conditions for developing collaborative ecosystems, fostering synergies between major industry players with wide access to the market (such as Bull and Red Hat), small, flexible and innovative software publishers, academic partners who encourage innovation and the transfer of ideas to industry, and finally end users. As a platform, OW2 is extremely conducive to the creation and development of ecosystems, by favoring collaboration between all these diverse organizations. And that explains the origin of the new kinds of activity we are engaging in, with our market and sector-focused initiatives. Our status as a non-profit making organization is not a contradiction vis-à-vis the increasing professionalization of Open Source. It totally supports it! Our role is to be a meeting place between the different Open Source middleware players: researchers, developers, integrators, users, and other communities such as Apache, Eclipse, etc... For the benefit of everyone.

What part does Bull play in OW2?
Historically, Bull is the co-founder of ObjectWeb. Along with the other co-founders, the Group has found ObjectWeb to be an ideal springboard for inviting other major contributors to join forces on shared development projects, and especially in Open Source middleware. Like the twelve other strategic members (out of the 42 current members) Bull is today a co-founder and strategic member of OW2.
Bull doesn’t just contribute to the technology, but is also involved in the consortium’s development activities. I was elected Chairman of OW2 and Head of Ecosystem Development. Jacques Cayuela (from Bull R&D) is OW2’s Chief Technical Officer, in charge of project and development technological consistency. Bull contributes to the consortium’s communication and, like all its members, carries the message of OW2 out to customers and partners.
Finally, OW2 enables us to share our developments. With OW2, the JOnAS development teams are getting stronger, for example, as a result of contributions from the prestigious Peking University. Finally, OW2 is an excellent way for Bull to extend its influence and added value in the world of Open Source. A good example, among so many others, is the State of Geneva, where Bull has won a major SOA integration project based on OW2 components, including JOnAS, Bonita and Orchestra.

What are the likely next steps in OW2’s development?
We are just at the beginning: the new consortium will only reach its final cruising speed at the start of 2008. Over and above the current membership, we are already in discussion with other major industrial players on the subject of OW2 affiliation. Bull’s sales teams have also been invited to discuss the issue with their customers. We are ready to welcome them on board any time. Over the next few months, an important step will be the formal foundation of the OW2 ‘Local Chapters’ in Brazil and China. Another key step will be the finalization of a technology platform, combining the various OW2 members’ technologies and offering standard common services (security, communication services, integration, systems administration and supervision, process management, user interaction, etc.). This software platform will ensure that all OW2 components function in a completely interoperable way, so enabling users to build powerful business applications. Bull is making a significant contribution to the creation of this platform. OW2 initiatives, at the heart of our future developments, will be built on this technology platform. This is converging with Bull’s offer in middleware, information systems architecture, and business application development for our customers, which is a key axis for our development and added value strategy.

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