Eclipse Critique

Quo Vadis Eclipse? Part Three

The final installment of our analysis of all things Eclipse.

In the last of our three part deep-dive into everything Eclipse, we take a look at what we can expect from the Eclipse Foundation in the future…….

Quo vadis Eclipse Foundation?

As a model for creating a vital Open Source ecosystem, representatives of the Eclipse Foundation have repeatedly referred to the Open Source Maturity Model of Tony Bailetti (Illustration 2: Open Source Maturity Curve. Bailetti recently presented the model in an Eclipse Summit Europe keynote.) Bailetti’s model describes the increasing value for enterprises that are involved in an Open Source ecosystem in five stages (see box: Model of the maturing process of an Open Source ecosystem).

According to Bailetti, an evaluation of 163 members of the Eclipse Foundation revealed that the majority of enterprises that comprise the Eclipse ecosystem are currently stuck at stage 2 or 3. Collaborations of whole companies (stage 4: “Co-create”) should therefore be the next step in the maturing process of Eclipse.

 Illustration 2: Open Source Maturity Curve.

In an interview with Eclipse Magazine 4.10 Mike Milinkovich confirmed the relevance of this model for the strategic activities of the Eclipse Foundation. Similar to the situation at the beginning of the 21st century, when a number of companies joined forces to support Eclipse as a development platform, the Foundation currently appears to be working towards a process of platform building in new areas. The oft-quoted concept of the Industry Working Groups (see, e.g., the Roadmap 2008 and the Eclipse Magazine 4.09) aims to create new platforms through cross-company co-operations. These platforms, as Milinkovich remarks, could even get their own branding: ‘Pulsar,’ the Eclipse-based mobile platform, the Eclipse-based SOA platform for building on service oriented architectures – or EclipseRT, the Runtime Platform, which has yet to be consolidated. Whether this is the right move, remains to be seen.

However, the idea of a teleological fulfilment of the stage model, in the sense that a growth in the Eclipse ecosystem automatically results in the companies graduating from one stage to the next, seems naïve. What we rather can experience empirically is the different players in the Eclipse ecosystem settling into one of the stages according to their business models, and remaining there.

Be that as it may, what can often be observed resembles the fight for survival of formerly flourishing Eclipse enterprises. In the midst of this is the Eclipse Foundation, who seems to be increasingly moving into new fields within the ecosystem, in the interests of self-preservation. Although a self-proclaimed not-for-profit organisation, it is one that – according to the roadmap – seeks to diversify its mode of income: “It is a goal of the Eclipse Foundation to ensure revenue sources from multiple types of organizations, and seek other sources such as events and sponsorships.”

As a company in the Eclipse ecosystem, can you be sure that your own business idea is not going to be swallowed up by the Eclipse Foundation, in an effort to self-finance? The situation in regard to the gratis distributions is indeed delicate. The media and event organisation sector is seeing a similar trend. (see box: “Interview with Masoud Kamali”).

The Eclipse Foundation has achieved, with overwhelming success, its original goal of making Eclipse No.1 amongst the Java development platforms. In need of a new orientation, the Foundation is currently trying to bring itself back into play, via the occupation of new fields.

The question is this: are the current efforts within the Foundation signs of a successful new orientation that will re-vitalise the Eclipse ecosystem? Or, is the Eclipse Foundation, after losing its original impetus, now struggling to find meaning?

Interview with Masoud Kamali

Eclipse Magazine: You are the founder of a publishing company and organiser of conferences that deal with Eclipse-based topics. Therefore, you are also part of the Eclipse ecosystem. Can you describe your cooperation with the Eclipse Foundation, over the last few years?

Masoud Kamali: We always had a strong Eclipse track at the JAX conferences. In 2006, we held our first Eclipse Forum Europe, our independent Eclipse conference, which focused on informing about Eclipse technologies and providing networking possibilities for companies within the Eclipse environment. We produced the first, and still the only worldwide, Eclipse Magazine, in addition to numerous books and online portals, and, thus contributing to the development and popularity of the Eclipse ecosystem.

But regrettably, I have to admit that the cooperation with the Eclipse Foundation has been rather problematic in recent years.

With Eclipse Summit Europe 2007, the Eclipse Foundation started its own conference in exactly the same catchment area as our Eclipse forum, i.e Southwest Germany. Originally, it was stated that the Foundation planned to organise conferences in various locations – Germany, France, Great Britain, etc. But, there was no real coordination with us – and it turned out that the Summit was to take place in Ludwigsburg every year.

The question is what the Foundation is trying to achieve. With regards to Eclipse, Germany is a rather saturated market. Community Building would be more relevant in France, Eastern Europe, London, or elsewhere.

In addition, we were guaranteed that the Eclipse Summit would remain within the sphere of Community Building and Networking. The areas of further training, know-how and knowledge transfer would be left to the different Eclipse Foundation partners, so as not to encroach on their business opportunities. To our disappointment, the Summit clearly incorporated elements of training and knowledge transfer, right from the beginning.

In brief, the Eclipse Summit Europe developed into an event that competed with ours, but we did not have a reliable contact with whom we could reach an agreement. For me, it seems as if the Foundation has no clear concept, or reliable planning, in regards to what it wants to achieve within the area of Community Building: conferences, magazines, books, etc.

Eclipse Magazine: How do you assess the activities of the Eclipse Foundation?

Masoud Kamali: The Eclipse Foundation itself is a so-called not-for-profit organisation, but naturally there are always those who profit from its activities, and may it be the officials themselves. In the end, the Foundation earns money like every other company. In the last Eclipse Roadmap it was clearly stated that the organisation wants to make profit from their conferences. As a member of the Eclipse Foundation, it needs to be asked why the Foundation does not cooperate with partners who specialise in this sector. Anyway, for us as a publishing company, membership in the Eclipse Foundation did not pay off.

Bio: Masoud Kamali is the founder and CEO of Software & Support Media and for many years acted as editor in chief of the Enwickler Magazin and the dot.NET Magazin. Masoud Kamali is also the publisher of Eclipse Magazin and the organiser of conferences such as JAX, BASTA! and Eclipse Forum Europe.


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