4. Case studies

The genesis for this research was based on observing: (i) the conventional wisdom of the 20th century that private sourcing only (PSo) is the only path to commercial success; (ii) the rise of the Internet coinciding with the founding of the Open Source Initiative in 1998, and some new organizations centering on open sourcing only (OSo); and (iii) a very few pioneers operating at scale with open sourcing while private sourcing (OSwPS). While it is not the only company to do so, the first decade of 21st century saw IBM as (i) coming from a heritage in private sourcing, (ii) not only tolerating, but encouraging IBM employees in open sourcing; and (iii) seeing commercial success at global scale with OSwPS. How is this so?

This Chapter 4 provides highlights of seven cases, with extended histories narrated in Appendix A. The larger context in which the cases are placed are outlined in Chapter 5, with the extended histories in Appendix B.

4.1 Seven case studies are representative stories over a decade

OSwPS first showed up at IBM with the Apache HTTP Server from 1998, and then Linux on four products lines from 2000. These have proven to not be singleton aberrations, but instead harbingers of change at IBM.

Seven case studies within the period between 2001 and 2011 are reviewed. They relate to technologies that have been both accessible to the general population of IBM employees around the world, and disclosed to the public through formal press releases and less formal channels during that period.160 This list of cases is non-exhaustive, so more could be uncovered at IBM and across the technology industry at large.

The ordering of cases has been sequenced roughly from earliest to most recent in Figure 4.1: (1) integrating-development (fully detailed in Appendix section A.1); (2) microblogging (detailed in A.2); (3) blogging (detailed in A.3); (4) wikiing (detailed in A.4); (5) podcasting (detailed in A.5); (6) mashing-up (detailed in A.6); and (7) coauthoring (detailed in A.7).

Timeline of cases

Figure 4.1 Timeline of cases

In some cases, private sourcing in IBM preceded open sourcing; in other cases, the sequence was reversed. The behaviours of the organization and individuals coevolved with technologies that were new, and matured with experience.

4.2 Case: Integrating-development (IDEs)

In the late 1990s, IBM's heritage with multiple platforms – i.e. S/390, AS/400, RS/6000, PCs – meant that computer programs written for one environment could not be easily reused in another. In 1995, IBM first introduced the VisualAge/Smalltalk product, an integrated development environment (IDE) aimed at making object-oriented programming easier on OS/2, Windows and AIX. In 1996, Sun Microsystems released the Java software platform for Solaris, Windows, Mac OS Classic and Linux, including a virtual machine, class libraries and the programming language. The Java Development Kit (JDK) 1.0 was free to download over the Internet, with the source code licensable from Sun. These roots led to the timeline shown in Figure 4.2.

Timeline of integrating-development

Figure 4.2 Timeline of integrating-development

IBM adopted the Java platform as the way to knit together computing across its heritage product lines, at the rise of the Internet. This timeline is described more fully in Appendix section A.1.

(a) In summer 1997, IBM introduced the VisualAge for Java product as a commercial private sourcing offering. With the Enterprise Edition, IBM offered a IBM Java Virtual Machine (JVM) for its platforms (i.e. AIX, OS/2, OS/400, OS/390) to complement those available from Sun (e.g. Solaris, Windows, Linux). This Integrated Development Environment was complemented by an early team collaboration system originally developed by Object Technologies International, acquired by IBM in 1996.

(b) In November 2001, IBM joined eight other organizations to form the Eclipse Consortium. This was a landmark community for an open sourcing platform for commercial and non-commercial development on Java. IBM was the leading contributor of software assets and staff resources.

(c) In January 2004, the Eclipse Foundation was reorganized into a not-for-profit corporation, whereby IBM would become but one of 50 member companies. Full-time management would guide the development of open sourcing projects. This has continued as a successful technology community for over a decade.

(d) In 1999, VisualAge Micro Edition, a complete IDE implementation in Java, was released. This became the core of the Eclipse open sourcing platform in 2001, on which WebSphere Studio Application Developer private sourcing product of 2002 was built. That product evolved into Rational Application Developer released in 2004, that has continued as a private sourcing product for over a decade.

With the open sourcing Eclipse Foundation, IBM was a founder and then a voting community member. It has continued as one of its largest contributors, in parallel with others in the industry. Practically all of IBM's commercial private sourcing products since 2001 have been based on Eclipse. This case is the longest-running proof that advancing technology through open sourcing does not have to be incompatible with private sourcing.

4.3 Case: Microblogging (broadcast messaging)

With the benefit of hindsight, micro-blogging – more formally labelled as synchronous broadcast messaging – has been a practice that was waiting for technology to catch up. The Twitter service is commonly understood today, but the company and platform only came about in 2006. There's pre-history for micro-blogging dating back to 2003 in Figure 4.3.

Timeline of microblogging

Figure 4.3 Timeline of microblogging

IBMers first experimented with at scale with precursor technologies in private sourcing, and then shared its learning more broadly through open sourcing. Details are described in Appendix section A.2.

(a) In February 2003, the Webahead team integrated some previously experimental technologies in a package called IBM Community Tools (ICT). It included (i) w3alert, (ii) TeamRing, (iii) SkillTap, (iv) FreeJam, (v) Pollcast, built on top of the commercial Lotus Sametime 3.1 offering. ICT was freely available to every IBM employee, but followed a private sourcing style with support through the Webahead team. A version of ICT was made publicly available on the Next Generation Internet (NGI) IBM web site demonstrating the iSeries capability to simultaneously run OS/400, Linux and Windows 2000. Customers downloading ICT had to accept terms that would grant IBM a royalty-free license on derivative works. Multiple patents naming ICT would be filed by Webahead and IBM Research members, and granted.

(b) In March 2006, the ICT product features were migrated onto the Lotus Sametime 7.5 client with the formation of the Technology Adoption Program (TAP) as voluntary approach to try out new technologies. The Sametime Connect 7.5 client was built on the Eclipse platform, so plug-ins to extend functionality could be programmed and added beyond the core development team. IBM employees were able to try out the Sametime 7.5 at low risk in advance of the official availability in August 2006, as they could revert to the fully-supported Sametime 3.1 at any time. Lotus Sametime was a commercial product, yet its plug-in architecture and easy access to beta code represents an open sourcing style.

(c) In April 2007, IBM employee Ben Hardill released an enterprise microblogging environment called BlueTwit. This was hosted on the IBM Internal Open Source Bazaar (IIOSB) as a side project. Participating employees could learn to tweet to colleagues within a “safe” IBM intranet by downloading plugins for either the Firefox browser or Lotus Sametime Connect. In March 2011, BlueTwit was renamed as IBM Internal Microblogging. It continued to be available, although superseded by the officially-supported Lotus Connections product.

(d) In April 2009, Jessica Wu Ramirez released MicroBlogCentral on Connections Plug-In Developers blog hosted on the w3 intranet. The Lotus Connections 2.0 commercial product previously released in June 2008 had evolved to support plug-ins. In December 2008, Marty Moore posted a preview of the status message update feature for the upcoming Lotus Connections 2.5 release targeted for 3Q2009. This feature allowed individuals to leave status messages on their personal profiles as well as on colleagues' profiles. This pattern would have been familiar to anyone on Facebook writing on one's own or a friend's wall. MicroBlogCentral enabling updating the status message from Lotus Notes or Sametime, without opening a browser.

For Hackday 6.5 in June 2009, Brian O'Donovan proposed a “Status Updatr” project. Other participants alerted him to Wu Ramirez's work. O'Donovan extended MicroBlogCentral to three additional services on the w3 intranet: BlueTwit, Fringe, and Beehive.

For Hackday 7 in October 2009, O'Donovan was unable to participate, but four other IBMers joined Wu Ramirez to extend the plug-in. The Status Updatr plug-in continued to be available for all IBM employees on the w3 intranet, and was adapted for use in some customer engagements by IBM Software Services for Lotus.

A Hackday is “is an event where people step outside of the normal scope of work and apply their expertise toward driving new innovations”. This originated with a day in June 2006, and has continued as a semi-annual tradition of open sourcing inside IBM.

(e) In August 2009, Lotus Connections 2.5 was released as a commercial offering, upgrading features on the version 1.0 released in July 2007. The upgrade included the status message update feature (described above as similar to the Facebook wall). In addition, microblogging and directed public messages was similar to tweeting on Twitter. The practices that had become common on the open Internet with Facebook and Twitter could now be done within the bounds of a company intranet with an IBM private sourcing offering that integrated individuals' profiles online.

(f) In December 2009, an open source version of the Status Updatr was posted onto the web site of the OpenNTF community, under an Apache License Version 2.0. This was a plug-in that could be used by any individual using Lotus Sametime or Lotus Notes, as integration with Lotus Connections. The plug-in was also open to any developer to extend or modify for his or her organization's needs.

While research into broadcast messaging dates back to 2003, the popularity of Facebook and Twitter rose around 2007, IBM employees tried open sourcing experimentation in building and using social software both inside the company, and in their personal lives on the open Internet. Having moved its Lotus offerings to the Eclipse platform, IBM was able to rapidly develop features in private sourcing commercial offerings.

4.4 Case: Blogging (serial web content sharing)

Blogging was recognized as a noun and verb in the 2003 update to the Oxford English Dictionary. While publishing on the World Wide Web has been commonplace since free web hosting in 1995 (e.g. Tripod, Geocities) sharing writing in a serial form was a new idea in 2002. The evolution of blogging is partially described in Figure 4.4.

Timeline of blogging

Figure 4.4 Timeline of blogging

For an audience of corporate executives, John Patrick, IBM VP of Internet Technologies, wrote about “Blogging -- The Next Big Thing?” in December 2002. Other IBMers had started blogging independently by September 2001, pioneering increased external presences between 2002 and 2005. More details on the rise of blogging is in Appendix section A.3.

(a) In 2002, Dave Johnson, an independent developer from North Carolina, developed a Java-based blogging platform named Roller. He hosted it on Sourceforge with an open source license, and publicized it with an article on onjava.com. With the Java development community small, some IBM employees downloaded Roller to experiment both for corporate and individual interests.

(b) In November 2003, the Blog Central web site appeared on the IBM w3 intranet. Implementation had begun in July 2003 with a pre-v1.0 release of Roller, customized to integrate with IBM's intranet login and employee directory lookup.

From fall 2003 through fall 2005, Blog Central was an experiment on w3, supported by system administrators in a “best-efforts” mode. By April 2004, Fast Company magazine reported 500 employees were blogging. By June 2005, over 10% of employees worldwide were blogging.

In January 2006, David Johnson had been hired by Sun. He publicly recognized that Elias Torres, an IBM employee was contributing to the Roller 2.0. This meant that employees from two corporations were both contributing to the open sourcing project.

(c) In April 2004, the IBM developerWorks blogs were launched, with five prominent technical professionals as initial authors. A private sourcing approach was taken by licensing Jive Forums and skinning it to look like a blog, rather than relying on unproven and immature technology. By January 2006, 36 senior technical professionals – all but two from IBM – were blogging on developerWorks.

In March 2006, the content was migrated to a Roller v2.1 platform, and off Jive. By January 2008, 71 bloggers were named on developerWorks.

In 2010, Forrester recognized developerWorks with excellence in “social technologies to advance an organizational or business goal”. It “encouraged the growth of the open standards development community” while driving down IBM support costs by $100 million.

(d) On the intranet, w3 Blog Central evolved in an open sourcing style. In March 2006, in parallel with the developerWorks migration, Blog Central v2 was an upgrade to Roller v2.

In May 2007, Blog Central v3 was a migration to the Lotus Connections code base, in advance of the commercial product v1.0 release in June. The evolved platform was acknowledged as being based on Apache Roller. IBM's internal blogging experience was publicized at this time, to encourage other companies to follow suit. In May 2007, members of IBM Research published some preliminary observations on “Blogs at Work”. In August 2007, Luis Suarez, who was recognized as a pioneer at IBM with blogging, officially was assigned a role as a “Social Computing Evangelist”. Suarez would become a celebrity in his “Life without e-mail” campaign, as his work communications shifted to social collaboration platforms.

By January 2008, 41,000 of 360,000 IBM employees were registered as either authors or commenters. The volume of blog readers could be inferred from a 3-day statistics of over 3 million hits from over 100,000 unique visitors. In March 2009, Blog Central v3 was upgraded to v4.

(e) In March 2009, the technical development community outside IBM was invited to join My developerWorks, blogging on a customized version of the commercial Lotus Connections product.

In December 2009, the private source offering of Lotus Connections 2.5 became the official platform for social computing on the w3 intranet. The content from w3 Blog Central v4 was migrated.

The gradual crossover from open sourcing to private sourcing had started some years earlier. On May 2007, the Lotus Connection v1.0 commercial private sourcing offering was released. The derivation of its blog features from Apache Roller “thrilled” the originator, Dave Johnson, in December 2006. He also stated his disappointment about his employer Sun Microsystems not similarly shipping a distribution, acknowledging Sun did have Roller as the platform under blog.sun.com. Sun would announce Project SocialSite in August 2008, but would never become a viable product. With Sun laying off employees in early 2009, Dave Johnson joined IBM in March on a team unrelated either to Roller or SocialSite.

The success of blogging in a corporate environment often overemphasizes the organization over the individuals. Blogging is rarely the primary job for any individual, just as answering e-mail is not a primary job. Blogging, reading and commenting work on a mutually reinforcing spiral where individuals can easily communicate personal perspective globally with their peers. Within an intranet, uncertainties and cautions can be conveyed on work-in-progress. Open sourcing in a professional context does not need to be independent of private sourcing work, and can improve speed through transparent communications.

4.5 Case: Wikiing (collaborative web content sharing)

Wikipedia became the most popular reference source on the Internet in 2005. The word “wiki” entered the Oxford English Dictionary only in 2007. Collaborating by openly adding and editing content on a web site has a history partially reflected in Figure 4.5.

Timeline of wikiing

Figure 4.5 Timeline of wikiing

The first wiki was developed in 1995 by Ward Cunningham, to aid sharing amongst the Hillside Group on a Design Patterns Library. A fuller history appears in Appendix section A.4.

(a) In 2001, Janne Jalkanen, a Nokia employee, developed JSPWiki on his own time. This was a Java-based application, eventually licensed under the Lesser GPL in 2004. By August 2007, the core development team submitted a proposal to be redeveloped as an Apache project. In July 2013, Apache JSPWiki would graduate from incubation.

(b) In December 2004, an IBM employee asked if he could use the Webahead Instawiki installation, rather than installing JSPWiki on a private server as others had done earlier in the year. This started a period of experimentation, where author-editors would negotiate with system administrators about their privileges and authority over content and revisions.

By January 2007, the Webahead team announced that Instawiki would be sunset, although content would be available through the end of the year. Author-editors were encouraged to migrate their writings to a new platform, recoding content and links since wiki markup is not standardized.

(c) By November 2005, the Webahead began to pilot Wiki Central v2 based on the Atlassian Confluence 2.0 product, licensed as commercial open source. By February 2006, Confluence was evaluated as viable. Wiki Central v2 was run in parallel with Instawiki through 2006. With over 20,000 users by April 2006, the Confluence platform was modified for clustering and multiple servers. With the full deployment of Wiki Central v2 in July 2007, the volume increased to 150,000 daily users. Participation represented about 40% of the total workforce.

In December 2009, IBM deployed the commercial Lotus Connections 2.5 on w3. The mature Wiki Central v2 on Confluence would run in parallel with the Connections 2.5 Wiki through 2012, at which point Connections was upgraded to version 4.0

(d) In October 2007, the Lotus Quickr 8.0 commercial offering included a wiki template licenses from SNAPPS became available on the w3 intranet, under the Technology Adoption Program.

With the predecessor Lotus Quickplace 7.0, SNAPPS had offered a wiki template downloadable under a GPL license.

Quickr 8.0 was available either as (i) Quickr for Domino (requiring a Lotus server) or (ii) Quickr for WebSphere Portal. The wiki template was only for the Domino version. Quick continued as a commercial offering until its withdrawal from marketing in 2014.

(e) In August 2009, wiki features became available in the commercial Lotus Connections 2.5 offering. That version was available on the w3 intranet in parallel with Wiki Central v2. By the September 2012 release of Connections 4.0, additional features (e.g. activity streams, mobile device support) would encourage internal wiki uses to choose the newer private sourcing platform.

On the evolution of wiki from its first use in IBM in 2004, the observation of open sourcing of content by author-editors was combined with system administrators learning about how individuals collaborate electronically. While IBMers used other open sourcing platforms internally, the Lotus division was able to observe and advance features used in wikiing. As an example, wikiing has traditionally been done with simple markup reformatted with an interpreter, whereas Lotus Connections wikis feature WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editors. Private sourcing refined wikiing to encourage adoption by the more typical business professional.

4.6 Case: Podcasting (digital media syndication)

Podcasting is the distribution of episodes of digital media – streaming audio or video – content over the Internet. The BBC selected podcast as word of the year for 2005. The timeline for podcasting in the context of a business organization is shown in Figure 4.6.

Timeline of podcasting

Figure 4.6 Timeline of podcasting

Podcasting rose when three elements were in place: (i) standard protocols on data formats between syndicators and subscribers (i.e. MP3 audio and MPEG4 video; RSS and Atom enclosure specifications); (ii) channels, series or shows by content producers (e.g. blogradio.org, Odeo, iTunes); and (iii) hardware and software platforms (e.g. Creative Zen, Samsung, iRiver, iPod). Part of the evolution for podcasting for corporate applications is described in Appendix section A.5.

(a) In March 2005, the Instawiki pilot code (based on the open sourcing JSPWiki) was extended so that if MP3 audio files were attached to a wiki page, they would appear as XML enclosures in an RSS feed. The feature was demonstrated as viable experiment that contributed to the Wiki Central v2 evaluation, although few content publishers or subscribers used it before the decision to sunset Instawiki was announced in February 2006.

(b) By October 2005, the Webahead Podcasting Pilot was launched. The design enabled episodes to have two attachments: an audio recording, and a text transcript. IBM employees often have teleconferences where a slide deck is posted electronically for download, and then are bridged with a telephone call-in number. By August 2006, when practice showed that text transcripts were less popular than slide decks, upload constraints were relaxed to allow 50 MB attachments. The pilot became a common way for IBM employees to download teleconference recordings onto mobile devices for playback while travelling.

(c) By May 2007, the w3 Media Library was formally launched, having been announced in January as an upcoming an evolution from the Webahead Podcasting Pilot. While the premise in the pilot had been that employees might search to find content produced by peers, the reality became that most downloads were driven by formal communications of important announcements and education. In addition, the new platform allowed the video content – not just audio recordings – to be uploaded, for viewing either through online streaming or download offline. By January 2008, it was estimated that about half of 360,000 employees at IBM had listened to, or watched content, on the w3 Media Library.

(d) In summer 2006, the internal Webahead group, through the external-facing IBM Software Standards Strategy group, contributed its implementation of Atom to the Apache Foundation. This would form the basis of the Abdera, becoming a top level project in November 2008 and evolving to a 1.0 release by May 2010. Atom was first used for attachments to blogs, but became much more widely applied, e.g. with file management, photo sharing and podcasting. While the Webahead group doesn't have a mission to work outside of the company, advancing an implementation of Atom would benefit the industry at large to converge on an open standard.

(e) Between the June 2006 Abdera contribution and its formal acceptance as a project by the Apache Foundation, IBM incorporated the Atom technology into its private sourcing commercial offerings. Atom features appeared in Lotus Connections 1.0 in November 2007, as well as the Feedsphere library for WebSphere Application Server in December 2007. After Abdera had been released as version 1.0 in May 2010, coevolution of IBM's implementation with the Abdera releases would be acknowledged in the copyright attributions and version histories.

(f) In October 2008, the w3 Media Library remained as an open sourcing project on the IBM intranet, moved to the Innovation Hosting Environment. The software implementation and informal support remained the same, while recognizing the rise of the TAP organization.

Podcasting at IBM originated in 2005, and much was learned through open sourcing with publishers and subscribers in distributing multimedia content. The viability for a branded product offering specifically for podcasting does not seem to have become a market opportunity for IBM, although the company has commercial tools available so that a motivated organization could implement a project on its own.

4.7 Case: Mashing-up (situational applications)

The idea of mashing-up originates in the remix of digital music circa 2002. With the sophistication of creating content on the World Wide Web rising, a gap for situated software – colloquially mashups – by non-programmers was seen around 2004. The evolution of offerings to enable mashing-up is charted on Figure 4.7.

Timeline of mashing-up

Figure 4.7 Timeline of mashing-up

The launch of Google Maps in February 2005 led to the first mashups on housing and traffic, originally through reverse-engineering of the Maps API until Google published the specifications in June 2005. O'Reilly Media organized the Where 2.0 conference in October 2005. In June 2006, Mashup Camp drew 300 participants in an unconference, followed by the June 2006 Mashup Camp 2 drawing sponsors and 400 people. Yahoo Pipes was introduced in February 2007, and Google Mashup Editor would follow in May 2007. The explorations involving IBM are described more fully in Appendix section A.6.

(a) In April 2006, IBM demonstrated the QEDWiki tool at the Web 2.0 conference, and then at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show. In September 2006, QEDWiki was announced as a software-as-a-service offering on the alphaWorks Services technology hosting, actually becoming available in February 2007. Unlike prior technologies downloadable from alphaWorks, QEDWiki could be used to integrate public web sources on the open Internet, as did Google Pipes and Google Mashup Editor.

(b) In December 2006, IBM Research piloted a “Situational Application Environment” (SAE) on the Tap Dynamic Infrastructure Lab (TDIL) hosting. The SAE was described as more than “just about mashups”, whereby mundane tasks could be automated. This came out of research into “ad hoc programming” compatible with with Clay Shirky's idea of situated software. Other open source components, e.g. OpenKapow robots, were also included in the initial trial.

(c) Around Hackday 3 in May 2007, the CIO Office ran education sessions for an SAE Contest. IBM regular or supplemental employees were eligible to enter. Entries could not be part of a day job assignment. The deadline for submission was June 31, with a prize of $15,000 for first place, $5000 for second place and $2000 for third place. The contest drew 90 entries from 178 participants. Some winning entries were further developed by CIO Office: IBM Travel Maps, the Virtual Team Locator and the Bluecard Widget. Insights from using the SAE were published by the IBM Research team, in the IBM Systems Journal.

(d) In September 2006, at a keynote in the VLDB conference, the VP and CTO of Information Management at IBM hypothesized the need for an “enterprise information mashup fabric” to structure back end data sources so that end user programming could be composed with tools like QEDWiki. In August 2007, IBM (Data Mashup Fabric for Intranet Applications) became available on alphaWorks Services. This was complemented on the QEDWiki web video series on Youtube, with a demonstration of Mashup Hub with DAMIA. In September 2007, A more complete disclosure was presented by IBM Almaden Research at VLDB '07, showing features beyond Yahoo Pipes.

(e) At the July 2007 Mashup Camp, IBM sponsored a Business Mashup Challenge, where an alpha version of Mashup Hub was provided. In August 2007, Info 2.0 was explained in blogs as three parts: (i) DAMIA, (ii) Mashup Hub, and (iii) QEDWiki. In October 2007, the Mashup Starter Kit was previewed and downloadable from alphaWorks in an open sourcing style, with a commercial release projected for 1Q2008.

(f) In November 2007, the Mashup Starter Kit available on alphaWorks was replicated on the IBM intranet. The internal platform name of “Situated Application Environment” was retained.

(g) In June 2008, with some slippage from the projected 1Q2008 date, the commercial IBM Mashup Center v1.0 was announced. It was branded as a combination of complementary products: (i) Lotus Mashups, and (ii) InfoSphere Mashup Hub. Potential customers could try out the Mashup Center on the Lotus Greenworks site, as the alphaWorks Services site was superseded. IBM Mashup Center was upgraded to v2.0 in October 2009 and then v3.0 in November 2010. In May 2010, the offering was withdrawn, with the two components migrated into WebSphere Portal Server and the IBM Web Experience Factory Designer.

(h) In September 2008, the second Situational Applications Contest was announced with a deadline of January 16, 2009. In October 2008, the SAE was moved from TAP (which had collaboration and review features) to TDIL, recognizing the official support channels available with the IBM Mashup Center program product. The SAE Context deadline was moved up to December 31. The results for the SAE 2008 contest were not publicized as the 2007 contest had been. It's likely that the fiscal year-end coinciding with a slowdown in IBM's business and a Christmas holiday season deterred entries and drew the attention of potential participants away.

By 2010, an article on “What Ever Happened to Enterprise Mashups” cited that the term peaked on search engines in spring 2008 and declined slowly. This was counter to the growth of open APIs that could be consumed. A lack of industry standards was suggested as a problem. The OpenAjax Alliance started in October 2006, with a stable snapshot of OpenAjax Hub in July 2007. IBM contributed SMash in September 2007. OpenAjax Hub v2.0 was approved in July 2009. OpenSocial 1.1 was released with OpenAjax Hub inside in November 2010. In 2011, IBM and the Dojo Foundation announced Maquetta, using the OpenAjax Widgets. Despite the continuing progress, “apathy” from OpenAjax Alliance sponsors were cited.

In September 2009, a competitive Open Mashup Alliance was formed. By spring 2010, no progress beyond the initial EMML v1.0 release was reported.

In retrospect, the idea of mashing-up as a path for non-programmers did not take root, either through open sourcing or private sourcing. Developers have passed on the Dojo technology that included OpenAjax, in favour of the simpler JQuery.

4.8 Case: Coauthoring (collaborative document editing)

While personal computer popularized electronic document editing – as word processing, spreadsheets and slide presentations – the Internet brought a new paradigm of sharing and collaboration. By late 2004, the evolution from the read-mostly client-server Web 1.0 to the read-write network computing Web 2.0 was challenging the premise of a document-centric orientation. While IBM previously had offerings for office productivity (e.g. Lotus SmartSuite was a competitor to Microsoft Office in releases from 1994 to 2002), Web 2.0 presented new opportunities, shown in Figure 4.8.

Timeline of coauthoring

Figure 4.8 Timeline of coauthoring

The legacy of personal computing on documents tends to be blind to Internet presumption that there are many other types and forms of data in the world. At the introduction of Office 2003, the private sourcing activities of Microsoft were having major impacts on its customers. The Word 97 .doc format was revised to Word 97-2003, the Excel spreadsheet format of .xls was revised to Excel 97-2003, and the Powerpoint presentation format of .ppt was revised to Powerpoint 97-2003. Further, in April 2003, Microsoft filed for a patent on “Word-processing documents stored in a single XML file”. The movements towards alternatives and open industry standards is detailed in Appendix section A.7.

(a) In March 2005, OpenDocument 1.0 was approved as an OASIS Standard. This specification was led primarily by implementers dating back to the open sourcing of StarOffice by Sun in 1999, leading to OpenOffice 1.0 in April 2002. In November 2002, the OpenOffice.org XML File Format Technical Reference Manual 1.0 was donated by Sun to OASIS. The OpenDocument Technical Committee (TC) initially included Sun, Corel, Arbortext and Boeing. Microsoft declined to send a representative. Major milestones included a first phase to be delivered in March 2004, and a second phase to catch up on development work done in parallel with the first phase. By the March 2005 approval of the ODF v1.0 standard, endorsements by Adobe, IBM and Sun were included.

In May 2004, the IDA II program of the European Commission endorsed the OpenOffice format specification to OASIS. A recommendation to get more industry participation in standardization led to IBM responding that it “welcomed” the invitation, and would reiterate its “commitment to working with governments to promote open computing based on open standards”. The OASIS approval would lead to a fast track ISO standardization. The EC committee also requested Microsoft to consider standardization of its XML formats. Microsoft agreed.

In September 2005, Sun changed the licensing for OpenOffice from the dual SISSL and GPL to the more permissive LGPL. In October 2005, OpenOffice 2.0 had ODF 1.0 as its default file format.

ISO standardization of ODF 1.0 started review as ISO/IEC 26300 in October 2005, and was approved in March 2006.

(b) In January 2006, IBM announced the Workplace Managed Client v2.6 commercial program product, featuring the ODF 1.0 file format. This offering was targeted for intranet-attached diskless workstations, where security concerns would preclude copying onto a floppy disk or USB drive. The plan to support ODF had previously been disclosed in May 2004, forking the OOo base. IBM private sourced this fork as a server-managed client, as the greater OpenOffice community was believed to be more interested in the desktop suite.

In January 2007, IBM announced it would discontinue the Workplace line, incorporating the office productivity applications as core in other products, including the new Lotus Quickr offering.

(c) In December 2006, the Office Open XML specification primarily driven by Microsoft would be approved as the ECMA-376 standard. This competitive response to ODF 1.0 was in response to government concerns, and has been regarded with controversy. Microsoft itself would not release a product fully-compliant to the December 2006 OOXML specification until Office 2013. In July 2014, the UK government would reject OOXML in favour of ODF.

In March 2005, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts ETRM 3.0 draft recommended that agencies should evaluate OpenDocument applications, to move away from Microsoft XML Reference Schemas as a non-open specification. In June 2005, Microsoft made documentation on OOXML licensable royalty-free to developers. This was criticized by IBM as disadvantaging anyone outside of Microsoft. In September 2005, the final ETRM 3.5 version excluded OOXML, precluding agencies from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from upgrading to Microsoft Office 2007, and setting a precedent for other jurisdictions to follow. Political pressures would lead to state executives resigning, and a subsequent senate oversight review.

In December 2006, despite a clear protest where “IBM voted NO today in ECMA on approval for Microsoft‘s Open XML spec”, the ECMA-376 standard was approved. This allowed a fast track for OOXML be approved as the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 standard in April 2008. This abuse of the standardization process has become a textbook case study, and impugned the credibility of technical and international committees.

(d) In February 2007, ODF 1.1 would be approved as an OASIS standard. ODF 1.0 had some criticisms on accessibility. IBM and Sun co-led an OpenDocument Accessibility Subcommittee, with IBM contributing four additional members. The updates would receive endorsement of the UK Royal National Institute for the Blind, and the National Federation for the Blind in Computer Science.

(e) In December 2006, the Free Standards Group accepted the IAccessible2 APIs for Windows, donated by IBM. These would ease development of accessible applications on Windows as well as other operating systems, as it was originally developed with Sun to for Java and Linux. This would meet the needs laid out by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for an open standard.

(f) In November 2007, Lotus Notes and Domino 8 was released, including Productivity Tools that would enable editing of documents in ODF, across Windows and Linux. Support for Mac OS/X would come with Lotus Notes 8.5 in January 2009. These commercial offerings were first presented in a May 2006 preview under the Hannover code name, and a managed beta starting November 2006.

(g) In November 2006, a standalone version of the Hannover-based Productivity Tools (i.e. word processing, spreadsheets and presentations, without the e-mail and collaboration features) came onto TAP. License conditions meant that the initial version would be based on the OpenOffice 1.0 code base, rather than the 2.0 released in October 2005. IBM employees were permitted to independently download and use OpenOffice for personal use, but internal distribution by the corporation was prohibited.

In August 2007, the internal beta versions on TAP were removed, and refreshed with “Normandy” code name that would eventually officially labelled as the IBM Lotus Productivity Tools. The development, support and bug reporting followed private sourcing conventions, as developers simultaneously engaged in integrating the desktop tools with the Lotus Notes client versions.

(h) In September 2007, OpenOffice.org announced that IBM was officially joining the community. The Normandy project was renamed IBM Lotus Symphony, with Beta 1 downloadable at no charge on the public IBM web site with a simple online registration. In the first week, the free code was downloaded by 100,000 businesses and consumers. Inside IBM, the intranet site was refreshed, and employees could download at leisure.

In November 2007, Symphony Beta 2 was posted on the TAP intranet site.

Symphony Beta 3 was updated on the public Internet in December 2007, and on the TAP intranet in January 2008. This version improved internationalization. The VP of Global Workforce and Workplace Enablement encouraged IBM employees to start using IBM Lotus Symphony. This not only would enable moving on from the legacy of Microsoft Office, but also Windows XP to Linux and eventually Mac OS/X. Between October 2007 and January 2008, IBM Research conducted a study where staff were given MacBook Pro laptops to try out while their Windows-based Thinkpads were continued to be used “as a last resort”.

In February 2008, Symphony Beta 4 was released on both the public IBM web site on the TAP intranet site. It was positioned as a Developers Release where Eclipse-based plug-ins could be installed.

In May 2008, a Prerelease Candidate for Symphony was posted only to TAP, as bug fixes were being ironed out.

In June 2008, IBM Lotus Symphony 1.0 was released publicly. Complementing the free online moderated support, large enterprises could sign up for Elite Support. By the end of the month, Symphony 1.0 became available for automated installation inside IBM via the ISSS provisioning tool. Instructions on how to uninstall Microsoft Office XP foreshadowed a future date when it be would removed without choice.

In August 2008, IBM Lotus Symphony 1.1 was released, fixing some bugs, reducing the memory footprint and adding a few enhancements.

In November 2008, IBM Lotus Symphony 1.2 was released, improving the spreadsheet, supporting Ubuntu Linux and a Mac OS/X beta.

In June 2009, Symphony 1.3 was released, improving interoperability with Microsoft Office 2007.

The development and release of IBM Lotus Symphony followed a private sourcing style. While IBM provided the software as a free download, the offering had IBM copyrights extending the OpenOffice version 1 code base. Internal employees could download from the TAP intranet site rather than registering on the public IBM web site, with bug reporting channels internally similar to those available externally.

(i) In August 2008, IBM Lotus Notes and Domino 8.0.2 was a maintenance release with Lotus Symphony 1.1 packaged in. This brought the prior Lotus Productivity Tools in line with IBM Lotus Symphony 1.1. in public. Customers who were licensing IBM Lotus Notes would thereby receive support for Lotus Symphony through official channels.

(j) In January 2008, the public beta for the Lotus Notes 8.5 client for Mac OS was announced. The deprecation of the PowerPC platforms at Mac OS 10.5 meant that there was not Notes 8.0 for Mac release, and customers would jump from Notes 7.0 to Notes 8.5. This beta of Notes 8.5 for Mac was ahead of the May 2008 public beta for Windows and Linux clients, as well as Domino 8.5 servers.

In January 2009, Lotus Notes 8.5 with Symphony 1.2.1 was announced for general availability. The threading of development to support multiple operating systems platforms on both clients and servers follows a private sourcing style.

(k) In September 2011, OpenDocument 1.2 was approved as an OASIS standard. IBM contributed team members to the OpenDocument Formula subcommittee from February 2006, and the OpenDocument Metadata subcommittee from March 2006.

(l) In February 2010, IBM Lotus Symphony 3 beta 2 was publicly released, followed by beta 3 in June and beta 4 in August. In October 2010, IBM Lotus Symphony 3 was formally released. This was an IBM private sourcing offering, downloadable free of charge “rebased on the current OpenOffice.org 3 code stream”, supporting the ODF 1.2 OASIS standard that would be approved in September 2011, and published by the ISO in summer 2015.

Since the joining the OpenOffice.org Community in September 2007, IBM had committed “a core team of 35 programmers in China” to the project. In October 2008, OpenOffice 3.0 was released, supporting ODF 1.2 and importing OOXML Transition, plus a native Mac OS/X interface. In November 2008 at the OOo Conference in Beijing, the Director of Lotus Development in IBM China outlined the roadmap whereby the private sourcing Symphony user interface would be built on top of OpenOffice 3.0.

(m) On March 14, 2012, Microsoft Office XP was discontinued on IBM employee computers worldwide, removed with the automated ISSI tool. Lotus Symphony had become a mandatory alternative application installed on all employee computers since September 2009. Microsoft Office 2003 could be installed via ISSI if a manager approved a business case. Employees were still free to install Microsoft products that they had personally licensed, within the policy of the new Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy.

The update to Symphony 3 was rolled out in October 2010, with the update to Symphony 3.0.1 after January 2012. By November 2011, authors choosing OpenDocument format could use free mobile viewers for Android and iOS.

This private sourcing activity served to release IBM employees from their dependence on Microsoft Windows, as Linux and Mac OS/X became platforms that could be deployed and maintained on an equal footing.

(n) In May 2011, Oracle announced that it would donate the OpenOffice branding and assets to the Apache Foundation. Lobbying by IBM was reported to have been a contributing factor towards open sourcing. In June 2011, OpenOffice was approved a probationary project by the Apache Incubator.

The founding of OpenOffice.org in 2000 by Sun Microsystems had espoused a foundation modelled on the Apache Software Foundation. This independence never became a reality. In 2005, there was a draft of proposed bylaws the U.S. Team OpenOffice.org, but critical mass in other geographic regions did not develop. Sun had a StarOffice offering based on OpenOffice, and was the largest contributor by far. The management of projects by Sun employees was criticized as unbalanced for independent developers in 2007. In October 2007, a new fork of OpenOffice named Go-oo (Go-Open Office) was started.

In April 2009, Oracle Corporation bought Sun, after rumours from late 2008 that IBM might be an acquirer. Major layoffs in October 2009 and replacement of all Sun logos with Oracle logos in May 2010 put uncertainty into OpenOffice development. An August 2010 lawsuit with Oracle claiming that Google infringed on Java copyrights originally held by Sun did not endear the company to the open source community.

In September 2010, some of the European leaders of OpenOffice development formed “The Documentation Foundation” and chose LibreOffice as their brand going forward. LibreOffice was supported by Linux providers Red Hat, Novell, and Ubuntu.

The April 2011 announcement that Oracle would “move OpenOffice.org to a purely community-based open source project” and no longer offer a commercial version ended Sun's history as an open sourcing champion. The technical resources associated with StarOffice, mostly in Hamburg, Germany, would be laid off … and IBM would eventually hire many of them.

(o) In June 2011, with the approval of OpenOffice as a podling by the Apache Software Foundation, IBM contributed Lotus Symphony under an Apache 2.0 license.

In June 2007, the introduction of the LGPL 3 permitted inclusion of Apache 2.0 licensed software. OpenOffice 1 had been licensed under SISSL and GPL. OpenOffice 2 had been licensed under LGPL 2.1. Those licenses worked for Sun, as its only derivative work was StarOffice. However, since IBM's derivative work might involve the private sourcing Lotus product line, corporate contributions to open sourcing would not be compatible with LGPL 2.1 or any GPL. OpenOffice 3 was licensed under LGPL 3, so the LibreOffice fork would also have LGPL 3.

The standalone version of Lotus Symphony had over 3 million lines of code where GPL / LGPL dependences had been replaced. With IBM open sourcing Lotus Symphony under an Apache 2.0 license, not only could derivative works be private sourced (e.g. with commercial IBM Lotus offerings), but improvements could also flow into the LibreOffice project under LGPL 3. In May 2012, the LibreOffice team announced that they would rebase the entire project on Apache OpenOffice, encouraging developers to contribute directly under an LGPL 3, rather than through the Apache process.

In May 2012, Apache OpenOffice 3.4 was released, with a “slow merge” of the IBM Symphony features. IBM continued to aid in the transition of the Symphony code base, leading to the release of Apache OpenOffice 4.0 in July 2013.

In December 2014, IBM discontinued support for Lotus Symphony. This marked IBM's exit from desktop office productivity tools, with derivative works subsequently all platformed on the Internet.

(p) In January 2012, IBM Docs, a new set of collaborative web editors, was released as a beta. It had been demonstrated in January 2010 as “Project Concord”, and then in January 2011 as “LotusLive Symphony” with “Tech Previews” during the year. In December 2012, the technology became available as IBM SmartCloud Docs (for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations), or packaged with IBM SmartCloud Engage Advanced (including e-mail, blog and wiki).

These private sourcing offers in 2012 can be seen as an evolution from the Managed Workplace Client in 2006. Tracing its history has been complicated by industry standardization initiatives, competitive activity, corporate acquisitions and open source community forks. While the PC generation may think Microsoft Office and the Internet generation may think Google Docs, their shapes have been influenced by interplay of open sourcing with private sourcing for over a decade.

4.9 Open sourcing while private sourcing began circa 2001

This book uses seven cases at IBM for an in-depth appreciation of open sourcing while private sourcing. The announcements by IBM of the relationships with the Apache Group in 1998 and the Linux Foundation in 2000 were precursors of a new way of working. IBM, at the levels of a corporate collective and in individual action, evolved open industry standards and ways of sharing across organizational bounds. The cases show that this behaviour was not a singleton event, but instead a larger movement that defined much of the business in the decade 2001-2011.

IBM is not the only company in the information technology industry that has attempted open sourcing while private sourcing. Sun Microsystems was a leading proponent of open sourcing. Its initiatives included the Solaris variant of Unix with the OpenSolaris alternative;161 the StarOffice desktop productivity suite with the OpenOffice alternative;162 and MySQL with a commercial license for commercial distributors and an exception for Free and Open Source Software users.163 Sun had the misfortune to not survive 2010 as an independent entity, to be acquired by a company that does often antagonizes open source communities. Post-2011, we see many well-known private sourcing commercial companies open sourcing, e.g. Google, Facebook, and Twitter. The first decade of the 21st century saw IBM as a successful company, and many industry observers believe that the entity founded in 1911 could exist in one form or another in another century.

This chapter has focused on detailed initiatives of OSwPS. The next chapter looks at the bigger context on which those initiatives occurred.

Chapter 3

Chapter 5

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