Open Source Foundations Are Not Superpowers

Today, the pending OpenStack Foundation announced an impressive list of 20 companies that will be supporting the creation of the Foundation.   I have a lot of respect for what the Open Stack community has accomplished and the formation of a non-for-profit Foundation seems like a great next step.

However, this blog post The New Open Source Superpower is pretty shocking in the lack of understanding of the  role of OSS Foundations.  Therefore, I feel compelled to point out some of its errors:

1. OSS Foundations are not the (super)powers or even the heart of any OSS community.  OSS Foundations are service providers to a community.   If the community is not engaged, the Foundation has no use.   I am pretty sure the Linux Foundation doesn’t claim credit for Linux.  They support Linus, the kernel maintainers and the entire Linux community.  Same thing for the Eclipse Foundation and I am sure the Apache Foundation.  OSS Foundations are about servicing a community, not being a superpower.

2. The blog gets the role of OSS Foundation marketing completely wrong.  The power of OSS Foundations is community marketing, not a large marketing budget.   We have a very small (less than $500K) marketing budget at Eclipse.   However, we get a huge multiplier from our community.   The Open Stack Foundation needs to enable community marketing, not be the center of Open Stack marketing.   I’d also point out that a $5 million marketing budget is peanuts to what Open Stack competitors will potentially spend on marketing.

3. Finally the blog has this statement ‘Open source is heavily driven by marketing.’   All I can say is wow, just wow.   OSS is about code, developers, adopters and users. It is about community.  It is NOT about marketing.  I don’t know anyone in an OSS community that would actually think marketing is the driver.

I do realize this blog is not the official statement of the Open Stack community or Foundation.   It is exciting to see the progress they are making forming the Foundation.   I do hope they don’t overstate the importance of the Foundation.   For Open Stack to be successful it has to be about the code and the community.

One thought on “Open Source Foundations Are Not Superpowers

  1. I agree the post was a little over the top, you have to know Boris 🙂

    I definitely agree that the foundation is there to play a supporting role and that the companies involved in OpenStack will ultimately spend many times more in aggregate on marketing. I’m not sure that Boris’s point is in conflict with that view, but I can’t speak for him.

Comments are closed.