HP FOSSology: Making it Easier for Companies to Adopt Open Source Apps
Published: January 31, 2008
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
Using open source software in a commercial environment is not as simple as going to a project, grabbing some code, compiling it (if binaries are not available), and walking away. Open source programs have myriad licenses and keeping the applications patched can be a big pain in the neck, too, since every project has its own means of updating the software. That's why Hewlett-Packard is giving a set of tools it created to govern its own use of open source to the IT community.
According to Doug Small, director of HP's Open Source and Linux Organization, a cross-divisional open source practice the company set up a number of years ago to focus its Linux and related open source efforts, the tools that HP is giving away as part of its FOSSology project were developed by the OSLO and HP Services units to help the company keep track of its own internal use of open source technologies as well as those applications that are in use as part of an HP Services engagement from outside customers. FOSS, of course, is short for "free and open source software," and it is the technical name for noncommercial software, which comes in these two flavors.
HP is trying to ride a wave of free and open source software deployments that are expected in the coming years, and has been itself gradually deploying such software to run its own business over the past seven years since it merged with Compaq. HP built a services practice focused on FOSS governance a few years ago. Some analysts are predicting that commercial software will move to the FOSS model, with paid support footing the bill for the code instead of licensing and maintenance fees. Small cites a recent study (from an unnamed consultancy) that is projecting that within the next four to five years, 80 percent of companies will deploy some form of free and open source software within their computing environments.
The FOSSology tools are themselves available as open source programs under the GNU General Public License v2--not the latest v3--and the agents for the tool are available under the Lesser GPL v2 license.
In addition to launching the FOSS tools project at FOSSology.org, HP is also creating an online community, called FOSSBazaar, so companies using free and open source software can collaborate in the development of new governance methodologies and the creation of future versions of the FOSSology tools. HP is working with the Linux Foundation to create FOSSBazaar, and Coverity, DLA Piper, Google, Novell, Olliance Group, OpenLogic, and SourceForge are all contributing to the community to get it rolling.
And, because it is HP, the open source tools do lead into paid-for services. Specifically, if you don't want to do your FOSS governance yourself, HP is happy to charge you to handle it with a service offering called the HP Open Source Health Check. This service takes a snapshot of current FOSS programs in use at your company and helps companies deal with licensing and risk issues that are part of all software but which are something that has to be managed by the company using FOSS programs. The Health Check also includes a total cost of ownership analysis to put some dollar figures on what a company would save if it moved to open source alternatives from currently deployed commercial software.
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HP Touts its Prowess in Linux and Open Source
HP Spurs Its Own Internal Linux Use
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