"Software freedom matters, and I intend to prove it." That was the bold statement that Simon Phipps, the former Chief Open Source Officer at Sun Microsystems, posted on his new blog this morning. The big news for him is the new job he's secured at ForgeRock, a Norwegian open source identity management startup. Phipps will join the company's board as the Chief Strategy Officer. He currently sits on the boards of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and Open Source for America.
ForgeRock is intended as a purely open source startup in the identity management business. Their products include OpenFM, OpenAMP, Open IDM,
OpenPortal (based on Lifefray), OpenESB, andOpenAM. Open AM is a core component of ForgeRock's ID management plans. It is based on Sun's OpenSSO, which has apparently been abandoned by Oracle and rescued by the developers at ForgeRock. Phipps said that this is one of the great advantages of open source software: "With open source, the company may fold but the community carries on."
The startup already has several customers including NBA AS, Norway's state railway company, and BetFair, an online gambling site. ForgeRock's liberal open source development policies include a contributor agreement that asks for a license opening the code to the project and its users. The agreement does not ask for copyright assignment. This is part of ForgeRock's philosophy of keeping code ownership within the community. Contributors also have the option of delivering code without an agreement under the Apache License v2.
Phipps' immediate responsibility will be planning ForgeRock's open source strategies and communicating their business model transparently to potential customers and contributors. OpenSSO is used by many customers worldwide, Phipps said, but instead of having to re-architect their systems for a different product, ForgeRock will provide a fork of the former Sun project (renamed due to project trademark).
Other Oracle projects, such as OpenSolaris, have less transparent roadmaps, which has caused some confusion and speculation about whether these projects will also be killed or stunted. Phipps will continue to guide these communities from his seat on the OSI and Open Source for America. He's already shown a special interest in the OpenSolaris project and the concerns over Oracle's stewardship.