Mar 03 2022

OW2 will stay proactive in OSS governance in large organisations

Paris, France, March 3, 2022 – OW2, the community that promotes free software for information systems, has just appointed Pierre-Yves Gibello as its new CEO. Although this software industry expert is already well known and appreciated by the community, he accepted to answer our questions about his vision of the professional open source market and the future of OW2.
Cedric Thomas, OW2 CEO since its inception in 2007, also shared some impressions and recommendations for the future. 


Pierre-Yves Gibello Biography:

My path only appears consistent if you look at it through the prism of curiosity: professionally, I worked for small and big actors, research institutes, created my own company, now work for a non-profit, and have always developed code. Personally, I have been really active as an alpinist, a backpacking traveler and a cross-country skiing athlete (I still race at 54).
Nothing there is reproducible, there was no plan, except I believe the only way to understand the world we live in is getting by yourself behind the scene, even when it requires a strong engagement, can be harmful or exhausting, and offers no guarantee of return.
What is life about? Do we have power to make it better? I am still wondering, so will keep exploring, and OSS is on my agenda for a long time already...


1. When did you first join the open source association and why?


Pierre-Yves Gibello: In 1999, when Inria, Bull (now Atos) and France Telecom (now Orange) created OW2's ancestor, ObjectWeb, I was proposed to join in because I had an OSS project of my own, RmiJdbc, informally hosted on an Inria server.
I accepted, was appointed as a board member along with the early founders, and my project was one of the first ones hosted by the association.
So, I first joined at the end of the 20th century, and before OW2...

3. Where do you see the main open source challenges for businesses in 2022 and beyond?


Pierre-Yves Gibello: In the short/mid term, making open-source a central concern for big players is a trend we hope to consolidate.
In the long term, we will be attentive to evolutions of data-centered and/or AI technologies, as there may be a shift from source code toward more or less informal and open data (trained neural networks being that kind of "undetermined" stuff).

5. What is the key role of OW2 in European research projects? How do OW2 members find their own way around it?


Pierre-Yves Gibello: OW2 has unique skills to provide project backend to academics and companies, when the research project produces open-source outcomes:

  • On the technical side, we can host the project infrastructure (web site and collaborative tools, code hosting with CI/CD, mailing lists, meetings), but also host and manage software deliverables as complex live applications on dedicated servers: we have a sysadmin and technical staff who can do that.
  • On the communication side, we can manage almost everything, except scientific publications: participation to events, press coverage, social networks, analytics, collaterals...
  • We also provide ways toward a successful outcome after the project ends: exploitation plan, beta-testing campaigns, long-term project software hosting as OW2 project(s).
    And we can help members build the proposal, delegate use-cases to existing OW2 projects when they are backed by academic or corporate members...

2. Since then, how do you measure the growth of OW2, its main achievements and successes?


Pierre-Yves Gibello: I am still amazed. Of course, we are not Apache nor Eclipse, but despite of our small size, we are part of the big five (Apache, Eclipse, Linux Foundation, Open Infra... and OW2!).
What differentiates us is our associative spirit, democratic governance (with small companies and individuals being really influential), and mind openness: we don't reject any project, license or initiative by principle, instead we make collegial choices.
And among the achievements:

  • Some very successful projects : first open-source certified JEE server (Jonas), famous bytecode manipulation tool (ASM), the Felix OSGi implementation (then moved to Apache)…
  • Big actors and established projects joining us: companies like AlterWay, Microsoft, Huawei, institutions like Fraunhofer or City of Paris, projects like Rocket.Chat or BlueMind. And some new announces will come soon...

4. Is OW2 coming up with concrete solutions for businesses to meet such challenges?


Pierre-Yves Gibello: OW2 launched an initiative called "Good Governance", that established a methodology to make an OSPO successful, and was the starting point of OSPO.zone.
We also developed a project assessment method and tool, MRL (Market Readiness Level), that we apply on our most prominent OSS projects: metrics are collected daily from the code, bug tracker, licensing, and mixed with information gathered from projects executives, to determine the maturity level.
These initiatives will be continued and completed, as they already gained success far beyond expectations.

6. Where would you like to see the OW2 community engaged during the upcoming months, with new collaborations or new partners?


Pierre-Yves Gibello: There are two axes I would like to highlight:

  • Being proactive in OSS governance in big organisations, by continuing what we do with OSPO.zone and MRL. OSS has now become adult and deserves the same consideration as proprietary software (or even more).
  • Increasing our position as part of the social economy. We are an association, a non-profit, must be proud of that, and able to convince even big companies that social economy is already on their agenda.

Three Questions to Cedric Thomas, OW2 CEO (2007-2022)

What is your assessment after 15 years of driving OW2?


Cedric Thomas: It’s been quite a journey! Actually it has been more a case of building OW2 rather than driving it. We can be proud of what we, the team, the board of directors and our members have achieved at OW2. Of course OW2 today is very different from what is was 15 years ago, most of the projects inherited with the code base of open source middleware assembled by ObjectWeb have disappeared. During this period OW2 became globally recognised and its code base increasingly focused on open source software solutions for corporate information systems. Having said that, the vision and the values remain unchanged. The vision is that open source is part of the global software industry and our driving values are still openness, transparency, fairness, trust and independence. At OW2 "everything is on the website" and we are serious about digital sovereignty. Compared with larger and better financed open source organisations, OW2 is still a niche player but with our Market Readiness Levels methodology and the Good Governance initiatives we have contributed significant innovations to the open source ecosystem.

How do you measure the growth of open source software during this period ? And how OW2 did support it?


Cedric Thomas: I’ve given many descriptions of my analysis of the changing nature of open source and our ecosystem’s four “models”: the ethical developer, the disruptive entrepreneur, the collaborative innovation and the industry capitalist. These models often co-exist and interact with each other which makes the open source world difficult to understand for third party stakeholders. Representing a market share of 10 to 15% of the software and service industry, the economic value of open source software is minor. Its real value is indirect, it comes from its cultural and technical impact. As open source becomes more mainstream, decision-makers are no longer free software activists, but simple business managers. As open source is adopted in all sectors of the economy, new expectations are emerging, which pose new challenges to our communities. The Market Readiness Levels methodology and the Good Governance initiatives are OW2’s contributions to providing responses to these new challenges. On one hand, with MRL we help our projects to become more market oriented, on the other with GGi we help mainstream companies be more professional and comfortable in their adoption of open source software.

As you are handing over to Pierre-Yves Gibello, what would be your wishes for the future of OW2 and your main recommendations?


Cedric Thomas: It is up to Pierre-Yves to work with the board of directors to define OW2 next priorities. We have had long discussions on these subjects and we are totally aligned as to what is essential and unique to OW2. OW2 must remain true to its values, we help grow software “commons” that must benefit the whole economy. To ensure its sustainability OW2 must grow its membership while still seize opportunities to support research projects with its technical infrastructure and communication expertise. MRL and GGi are still in their early stage and require determined and targeted efforts to grow and become mainstream. For the next few years, I see OW2 developing mainly in Europe while being open to seize any relevant global opportunity. I am very happy to hand over to Pierre-Yves, he has all the skills required to run OW2 and I have every confidence in his ability to continue the development of OW2. I would like to congratulate him and wish him the best of luck.