The Importance of Twitter’s Participation in OpenJDK

Twitter has announced they’ve signed the Contributor Agreement for OpenJDK and plan to be active participants.  Also, they announced that they’ve joined the JCP.

As an ecosystem guy, I find the fact that Twitter signaled their participation to be very important.  It’s not because of their very cool and popular brand, or that they’re loaded with engineers with world class reputations, or that they’re running one of the fastest growing and massively scaled software projects on the planet (although, those all certainly are nice).  From my perspective, it’s the fact they’re not an ISV*.  They do not generate product revenue by selling software licenses.  If OpenJDK were just and only about the Oracle/IBM/SAP’s of the world, plus individuals who sell consultancy hours, or to further academic research, based on their close participation, then I think OpenJDK would eventually suffer for it.

In my mind, there are three waves of participation in open source projects.  First, it’s usually initiated by an ISV and other ISV’s in the same industry.  If the project is very niche, or doesn’t really flourish, that will be it.  But if successful, and if the project is platform/infrastructure oriented, we should expect to see a second wave of participants that are largely software companies, but where the software license is not the product itself.  Twitter would be a great example of this – Twitter is software, but the software license is not the product.  Beyond that, if the project continues to be successful we should see a third phase of participation from non-software companies.  Companies where the software is critical, but it’s not largely the product.  More consumer oriented organizations, where the software is a means to an end.  I’m thinking of banks, insurance companies, auto makers, etc.

If you look at the membership of the Eclipse Foundation you’ll see some recent new members like Airbus, BMW and Continental as examples of the Eclipse ecosystem being fully into Phase 3.

These non-ISV participants serve incredibly important roles.  Simply put, they add diversity to a project.  More specifically, they can best represent end users of the project because they are the end users of the project.  They’re the ones that feel the most pain of any missteps and being able to directly influence outcomes is a huge win for everyone.

If OpenJDK continues on it’s march, we should see more Twitter like participation, and hopefully even broader participation.

– Don

*ISV = “Independent Software Vendor”.  I.e., a company that received a significant percentage of their revenue from software licensing and related activities.


About DonaldOJDK

This blog is for both personal and professional topics. Nothing here should be considered official for any past, present or future employer (or my wife and kids)!
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2 Responses to The Importance of Twitter’s Participation in OpenJDK

  1. While Airbus, BMW or Continental haven’t really caused a major boost in “Vertical” (also non-ISV, more precisely industry or domain-driven) projects and presentations at EclipseCon US earlier or the upcoming EclipseCon Europe (despite a so-called industry track, but it’s still dominated by SAP, IBM, Oracle and their likes) it is a glimpse of hope towards a bit more diversity and avoiding the 10th reiteration of 5 competing Eclipse persistence projects like we had in Santa Clara this year (fortunately many of them have not returned to ECE;-)

    While Twitter is more of an infrastructure member and JCP EC candidate, there are a couple of others, primarily from the financial industry already actively involved in the Java Community Process, or recently ratified by Oracle.
    If OpenJDK manages to get the likes of Airbus, BMW, Continental or those contributing to healthcare-related projects at Eclipse like Lockheed-Martin (!) involved in the proposed Java 8 Sensor-API, then there could be a chance of real industry adoption for the “Internet of Things”, “Semantic Web” or whatever buzzword you might hear around it. “Social Media” coming back to Twitter is often closely related to these nowadays.

  2. Pingback: Oracle and the Java Ecosystem : News Sluice

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