Stuart Cohen, formerly known as the OSDL CEO, launched the Collaborative Software Initiative, a new company dedicated to building communities of IT firms to co-develop software. CSI is apparently going to explore the potentialities of club good theory, that suggests that a group of firms can derive mutual benefit from sharing the cost of production of an (impure) public good.
Members only by Through 4 eyes
CSI will form the project community and provides the central project management function for developing Collaborative Software, including development, testing and support for the code. The CSI will also offer the software to a broader base of customers under the open source licensing or Software as a Service (Saas) models.
The idea to offer a “technological clubs aggregator“ makes a lot of sense to me, being open source software a non-rivalrous - may be not non-excludable - good. Notably among previous experiences I would mention at least the following:
Considering that firms are willing to cooperate in technological endeavours only if the benefits of cooperation outweigh the costs, network effects can be a pretty good reason to join the “club”.
With the successful adoption of Linux and open source software, we are really on the cusp of a new wave in software development where business managers are looking to cooperatively develop software to meet their industry application needs. CSI provides an experienced partner to form communities where today none exist and together build Collaborative Software that can be maintained and updated.
I believe that both experience and trust are key enabling factors for the success of the initiative. As matter of fact they got some financial support from OVP Venture Partners, they are already working with HP, IBM and Novell.
While I am not skeptical, I guess CSI’s communities won’t be similar to other open source communities, the whole idea seems different to me. Thinking of OpenAdaptor, that was somehow missing a strong foundation and therefore a promise for the future, I see CSI able to identify roadmaps and to grant maintenance.
Post Scrittum: I think that the initiative is aimed at offering consumer-firms a better alternative to outsourcing, and CSI has to guarantee results respecting on time on budget constraints. If this is the case, CSI’s communities have to adopt a Corporate Production approach. In other words there is no space for self-selected volunteers.
CSI introduces a market-changing process that applies open source methodologies to building Collaborative Software that lowers investments associated with non-competitive yet essential IT activities.