See, HP is open sourcing widgetry very much like theirs, widgetry that it developed for itself over the last seven years at the cost of “millions of dollars,” it says, and 60 man-years work that sorts out the various licenses that govern open source software – imagine, there are 1,700 licenses in OpenOffice alone – and lets you know if said licenses have been tinkered with in any way.
It calls it FOSSology and has made it available at FOSSology.org under the GPLv2.
It’s designed, it says, to address the acquisition, tracking and licensing of FOSS. It can detect code reuse and detect provenance even if the code has been changed.
HP uses as an example the case of the company that thought the FOSS software it had in-house contained 25 licenses when in fact it was 75 and then had to choose between implementing governance policies that covered all of them or replacing the software at an estimated cost of $80 million.
HP, which has claimed Linux sales leadership for the last nine years and has guided a lot of companies through the proverbial minefield, is also open sourcing its FOSS best practices, forming in the process a Linux Foundation working group called the FOSSBazaar composed of Google, Novell, Coverity, OpenLogic, Olliance, Sourceforge and DLA Piper, the law firm.
FOSSBazaar is pledged to offer online resources, educational documentation and community interaction – whatever that all means – to address FOSS business issues and promote FOSS best governance practices.
HP has kicked in its Open Source Health Check, which takes a snapshot of current FOSS use with FOSSology and then helps analyze FOSS management, making recommendations as it goes and tallying total cost of ownership benefits of moving to FOSS.
HP expects its governance contributions will make the enterprise less risk-averse about using free and open source software and so tickle its revenues.