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.