Philippine open-source advocates aim for bigger community

Microsoft's participation at POSS merely more about making a scene

Advocates of free and open source software (FOSS) in the Philippines are aspiring for a larger and active local community with the upcoming Philippine Open Source Summit (POSS) slated on June 23 to 24 in Cebu City.

FOSS developers believe the success of the event would bring positive results in the country by teaching companies to avail of cost-effective information and communications technology (ICT) strategies.

"We want to make sure there is a vibrant open source community in the Philippines because that's what open source is all about. It is something that's real but we've got to work on it. We need to invest our time, money, effort, and skills," said Jerry Rapes, general manager of Exist Global, a Philippine-based software engineering services firm that is promoting widespread adoption of open source across the region.

Dubbed "Understanding the Business Value of Open Source," the POSS event will take place at the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC), and will host analysts, open source proponents, and other IT industry players.

Rapes said the POSS summit aims to address the challenges associated with the open source model for ICT organizations and business enterprises, because a lot of companies are still hesitant to deploy the technology.

"With open source everyone thinks it's all free and that nobody's going to make money out of it," he said. "You see, knowing a little bit becomes very dangerous and so we want to put things in perspective; share what open source can do and can't do."

Rapes explained that open source is only 80% developed, and the remaining 20% needs to be built upon by companies. He added many companies are still hesitant to deploy open source simply because a lot of people don't know exactly how to do it.

"It's not our goal to be able to solve everything in that summit. It's just the beginning," he said.

Reacting to Microsoft's earlier announcement of joining the summit to discuss about the openXML, Rapes said the proprietary software giant's participation is merely more about making a scene.

"Microsoft is interested because they know if they don't put their name in anything that's IT-related, they'll get forgotten," Rapes said. "I was in OSCON (Open Source Convention) at Oregon in the US and they were also there."

Only recently, Sun Microsystems lauded the Philippine open source community having ranked as the 8th largest development community for open source in the world.

A brainchild of the Cebu Business Month 2008 ICT Committee -- the POSS event is being organized in cooperation with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Exist Global.

The event will highlight a group of international speakers including industry experts, active open source players and advocates of the open source platform, led by Exist Global and Morph Labs executive chairman Winston Damarillo. He is concurrently the chairman for International Marketing Committee of the Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA).

Other confirmed speakers are Greg Wilkins, chief technical officer of Webtide; Edwin Chua, APAC regional channel manager for Red Hat; Fernando Contreras, Jr, president and chief executive officer of Imperium Technology Inc.; Philip Dodds, chief technology officer of Exist Global; Odea Ching, vice president of Apache Software Foundation; Anna Sy, managing director of Solventol; and Daniel Saito, business development representative of MySQL Japan, to name a few.