We are psyched to kick off our company blog with a post about ApacheCon US 2009, running 2 – 6 November, 2009 in lovely Oakland, CA! The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) will be celebrating its 10th anniversary at this year’s ApacheCon — Happy Birthday, ASF!
HotWax Media was the Platinum Sponsor at last year’s ApacheCon US 2008, which took place in New Orleans. This year in Oakland, Microsoft and Thawte are filling the Platinum Sponsor role, while SourceForge joins us as a Gold Sponsor. (Other sponsors include hp, LinkedIn, and Sun – See a complete list here.) What’s that, you say? Microsoft is a Platinum Sponsor of the most respected open source software conference of the year? Believe it!
But the show is only made possible by the sponsors, it is not about the sponsors. Rather, the show is about the fantastic collaboration that takes place under the umbrella of the ASF. If you have an interest in open source software but have never attended an ApacheCon, I recommend you give it a try. Granted, the subject matter of presentations (and of general conversations) skews toward the technical side of the spectrum, but I really enjoy the individuals who attend, the casual and supportive atmosphere, and the quality of the ideas that are shared.
HotWax Media attends and provides sponsorship mainly due to our involvement with Apache Open For Business (OFBiz), which is a broadly scoped open source ERP framework that is maintained as a top-level project at the ASF. OFBiz offers great e-commerce features on the front end along with amazing capabilities on the backend for integrating and automating business systems. Users enjoy OFBiz for its ability to bring together features like supplier / inventory / order management, accounting, manufacturing, and more into one common business suite. OFBiz covers a lot of ground, to be sure, which is one of the reasons that OFBiz living under the ASF umbrella is so meaningful to me.
For a software project to be a top-level project at the ASF is the pinnacle of open source credibility. In a word, the ASF is about meritocracy. The ASF has setup a structure that promotes the best idea winning; this happens within the context of a hierarchy that is just enough to maintain order and integrity without squashing contribution. Put another way, the ASF focuses on making sure project administration is done properly, thereby freeing up ASF project participants to focus on what they do best. The result is a widely-distributed group of flexible, committed volunteers who turn out world class software.
HotWax Media’s business and our expertise with OFBiz go hand-in-hand with our participation in the ASF. We have numerous OFBiz Project Committers, Project Management Committee Members, and other active community members on staff, and we donate literally thousands of hours per year to the open source project in the form of volunteer maintenance and improvement activities. What is good for OFBiz, we often say, is good for HotWax Media. Whether building a custom order management system on OFBiz or developing a proprietary product that relies heavily of OFBiz, HotWax Media makes money in large part by maintaining a leadership role and top-tier expertise with OFBiz. So there we have it: a simple example of a for-profit business model that relies heavily on open source software.
There are literally dozens of Apache Projects, from OFBiz to the Apache Web Server, which serves over 1/2 of all web sites worldwide. The volunteers who build and maintain Apache software, and the brilliant minds who attend ApacheCon each year, are some of the most creative and talented software people anywhere. So as I consider our sponsorship again this year, it does makes me chuckle that we are on the same short list with Microsoft. Yet even in the face of the obvious conflict of interest that can be construed, it actually makes perfect sense to me that Microsoft is a Platinum Sponsor at ApacheCon. Any company that makes software development a central component of its business would be well served to become and stay involved with the ASF. When it comes to software, the ASF simply makes some of the best.