Reflections on OSDC 2007 in Brisbane

Another flight, another blog entry.

I am currently returning to New Zealand from the Open Source Developers’ Conference (OSDC) 2007, which just ended in Brisbane, Australia. I have to say: It was a fantastic experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment there! A huge compliment to the organizers, the speakers and all the attendees.

This was my first open source conference and now I am asking myself if they are all this good? Truly, you were able to feel that many people are in open source because they have a passion for it. And this showed in the conference and in everyone I spoke to. The volunteering and sharing that is prevalent in open source, the willingness to help and assist each other, excitement and genuine friendliness were evident at every turn, in every face and every presentation. Just great! I have been at plenty of conferences focused on businesses or specific industries, network security, and so on. But none of them came even close to the OSDC 2007 experience. Talking to the other attendees, I found that I was not the only one who felt this way. With people like this, open source is alive and well in Australia, truly the Lucky Country.

Interestingly, a large number of attendees were actually from businesses using open source, rather than developing open source themselves. I thought it was encouraging to see that the same friendly spirit of the open source community was also rubbing off on the business users.

Some of the highlights of the show were the daily, lively keynote speeches and the lightning talks at the end of each day, in which everyone with anything to say had five minutes to get it off their chests. I also tried my luck, desperately trying to cram the entire history of open source into a very fast 5 minute talk. Throughout the day, the normal presentations covered a large number of very interesting topics, ranging from security, to software freedom, hacking, education, web-related things, development environments, languages, e-commerce, and so on.

I gave two presentations myself. One was about the SnapLogic experience of running a commercial open source project, using the Python language. The other was about data integration with server side mashups, highlighting some of the benefits of the SnapLogic solution: Being able to pre-define resources, which the â??knowledge workersâ? in an organization can use to build their data integration pipelines, and which then in turn become reusable building blocks themselves. That was a well-received message, indeed.

People understood that data integration is done in almost all enterprises, big or small, even though in many mid-sized or smaller businesses this is not always called data integration. Instead, it’s just â??stuff you have to do in the IT departmentâ? to keep the business running, and is often realized with a lot of scripts and adhoc programming. Whoever I spoke to understood that this â??adhoc-nessâ? needs to stop, because it is entirely unmaintainable, and that SnapLogic offers a way out of this mess with its data integration framework. A number of people wanted to know more, and already described specific scenarios in which they want to use SnapLogic. I will have some following-up to do once I get back home.

So, thank you again to everyone at OSDC 2007. It was great being there, and I’m already looking forward to OSDC 2008, which I definitely want to attend…

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