I was just reading on Adrian Coyler’s blog that Spring’s dm Server is moving to Eclipse.org.  Cutting through all the blah blah blah, this is what I came up with as the reason for this move:

“At SpringSource we know that open source development and community involvement can play a huge role in evolving simple, pragmatic solutions that enable a technology to bridge from early adopter to mainstream usage. We know because it is a path we have successfully taken many times. In creating the Virgo project at Eclipse.org, we seek to accelerate the journey of the dm Server and of enterprise OSGi along this path.”

What I extrapolate from this is that they want to accelerate adoption.  I have a simple fundamental question:

Does it really matter if you host your project at an OSS organization like Eclipse.org or Apache?

I’ve been living in the Java OSS community for about 9 years now.  IMO, based on my experiences with JBoss, the only thing that Eclipse.org or Apache really gives you is an established brand to promote your project.  I’ve always felt that a move to Apache or Eclipse, while may be beneficial in the short run with a bump in your adoption curve, in the long run it is bad for both your project and ultimately your business.  Why?  Because you lose control of both your brand and the governance of your project.  Brands cost money and time to build.  Governance introduces the inefficiencies of any bureaucracy (see my previous blogs on problems at Apache.org).  So, with both of those disadvantages, I question the advantages of moving dmServer to Eclipse.org.  JBoss has never had a problem starting a new project and building new communities on our own.  Neither has Spring for that matter.  Our brands are strong enough so that we don’t need the bump of an Apache or Eclipse to drive adoption.

The only real benefit I see to move to Eclipse or Apache is if you’re trying to build a consortium of companies that build off of a base core technology.  I really don’t see that happening with dmServer, even if that is there goal.  I know we wouldn’t use the technology.  Would Oracle?  IBM?  SpringSource is no longer the little guy.  VMWare is a serious competitor to all of us.

Standardization more important

IMO, a better route to grow adoption is standardization.  Hibernate got a huge bump in adoption by aligning itself under the JPA banner and EE 5.  We are seeing the same with Seam->CDI->Weld and Bean Validation.  Standardization drives adoption because it frees competing companies from having to depend on a competitor’s code base.  Since the APIs are public, vendors can provide their own implementations and value add on their own terms.  At the same time, standardization gives an easier entry point for vendors that want to enter into the space and gives users the peace of mind that they have less vendor lock-in.  Just because something is open source doesn’t mean that it is immune to lock-in.  The lock-in here is to the implementation.  Standardization breeds multiple implementations.

With dmServer, yeah, it is built upon the OSGi specification (and OSGi implementations), but that is just not the same.  You have to bring your innovations to a standards body to create the ecosystem.

What do you think?

So please help me optimize my personal algorithm for professional open source.  Do you think it really matter if you bring your project to an established organization if you yourself are already established?  I say no…