Riding the open source Storm

Open source guru Stormy Peters talks about the global initiative to count how much open source software is used by enterprise, and her upcoming keynote at Melbourne’s Linux Conference

Stormy Peters is the director of community and partner programs at OpenLogic, a company that recently announced The Open Source Census -- a project that aims to paint an accurate portrait of open source usage in the enterprise. Prior to joining OpenLogic she worked at Hewlett-Packard where she was a founding member of HP's Linux Division as well as being responsible for HP's open source strategy. She is a vocal supporter of open source software in the enterprise and will be making her way to Melbourne in January for a keynote at linux.conf.au. She shares some of her thoughts ahead of her arrival.

What are you looking forward to about your trip to Australia?

I am looking forward to hanging out with a bunch of open source hackers! The enthusiasm of the open source community is catching - it's fun to be part of it. I'll also be talking with community members to get their feedback on The Open Source Census.

What is the general theme of your keynote at the Linux Conference?

It's called "Would you do it again for free?" Most open source software developers got started doing open source work as a hobby. Then most of them found paying jobs doing what they loved. Now commercial companies are exploring new ways of engaging open source software developers, adding new motivations to the picture. Some studies have shown that adding external monetary rewards can diminish the internal rewards - I want to make sure that doesn't happen so I want to keep the topic front and centre. As one of those companies trying to pass on monetary rewards, OpenLogic wants to make sure we keep the open source community going!

How can the issue of payment be reconciled with the reasons people work on and enterprises implement open source software? Are commercial companies killing open source by paying people to work on it?

I don't think they are but the possibility always exists if companies go about it wrong. OpenLogic pays open source developers though our Expert Community program and so far, nobody has quit their project because of it! I think the key is making sure companies understand the open source model and work with it as opposed to against it.

What projects are you currently working on at OpenLogic?

I work primarily on our OpenLogic Expert Community and The Open Source Census. OpenLogic Expert Community is our unique way of working with the open source community to support enterprise customers. We are able to support 340+ open source software packages because the Expert Community backs us up. We pay them to help us solve issues. The Open Source Census is a new initiative we are launching to count how much open source is being used in the enterprise.

How did the idea for the Open Source Census arise and what is its goal?

We used to ask customers what open source software they were using and they would send out an internal email survey and then hand us an Excel spreadsheet. They knew and we knew that the inventory they had collected was incomplete. We knew there had to be an easier way. So we wrote OSS Discovery, a tool to automatically find all the installed open source software on one or more computers. Once people started to run OSS Discovery, we were able to validate what we had long suspected - that companies were using a lot more open source than they realized. As we started looking at the data, we realized that having information on how much and which open source software was being used would be extremely valuable to both enterprises and the open source community. We thought that aggregating and sharing that data could help to encourage the business use of open source software, so we open sourced OSS Discovery and started The Open Source Census.

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