Interview With Sam Ramji, Interim President of the CodePlex Foundation
Earlier this week, InfoQ summarized some of the community reactions as well as interviewed Ayende Rahien, Scott Bellware and Scott Koon about their impressions of The CodePlex Foundation (CPF). Today, InfoQ presents another interview with Sam Ramji, the President of the CPF.
InfoQ: Why create a new foundation and not support some of the existing foundations already out there?
Sam: Commercial software developers currently under-participate in open source projects. We felt that no other foundation was dedicated to changing that. The CodePlex Foundation was formed to create a neutral, independent forum in which commercial software developers and open source communities could exchange code and understanding, making it easier for commercial software developers to contribute to open source projects. We don't compete with, but complement, the activities of other foundations. At a technical level we are focused on the mechanism of contribution from corporations and corporate developers, based on assignment and contribution agreements, rather than on a specific open source license or specific technology or platform. Microsoft also supports other foundations, such as the Apache Software Foundation, through direct sponsorship, and the Eclipse Foundation, through technical contributions.
InfoQ: In an interview found at codeplex.org, you say that CodePlex is focusing on a process instead of a specific project. How would you describe that process?
Sam: In the first 100 days we are going to focus on collecting best practices and processes through which software companies and open source communities have collaborated effectively in open source projects. One of the key aspects of this we are looking at are contribution and assignment agreements. You can see the ones that we have drafted here:
InfoQ: Using the name CodePlex in the foundation name has been criticized by some as an unfortunate confusion between codeplex.org and codeplex.com, as well as communicating a tight connection to Microsoft. Do you see this as a potential problem going forward?
Sam: We don't see the name as a potential problem. While Microsoft contributed initial funding, the Foundation will be managed as an independent, separate entity. The name CodePlex is well-recognized by many in both the commercial software and open source community worlds and has name-recognition value. As the Foundation brings on a full-time Executive Director and staff, we will be incorporating comments and suggestions that will help us more clearly differentiate the Foundation's role.
InfoQ: Many are still very skeptical to Microsoft in the open source community. How do you see the CodePlex foundation will strengthen Microsoft's (and other companies in the foundation) relation to the open source community?
Sam: Microsoft has made great strides in open source in my five years' tenure, including making contributions to the Apache Software Foundation and to the Linux kernel. I think the CodePlex Foundation will provide a neutral forum in which corporate software developers can engage with and participate in open source communities. This collaboration can only strengthen both communities.
InfoQ: How will people be selected to the board?
Sam: Through dialog with community and corporate leaders, and input from the Board of Advisors, we will establish and publicize a process by which we will select the permanent Board of Directors for the CodePlex Foundation. This is in our list of results that we have committed to for the first 100 days of the Foundation.
InfoQ: What, from your perspective, will be crucial for the success of The CodePlex Foundation?
Sam: We need to move very quickly to bring on permanent Board members, make sure many points of view are included in our Advisory board, and sign on a permanent Executive Director. What will be crucial is letting people see that we are serious about our mission, that we are independent of Microsoft, and that we are fully engaged in the work of helping software companies and open source communities to engage with each other in open source projects.
InfoQ: What can we expect the coming months?
Sam: In the first few months we will be bringing on a permanent Executive Director, deciding how to select projects to work with, establishing lines of communication with interested parties, and developing best practices and processes that will make the Foundation credible and successful. You'll see these discussions play out in multiple public forums, including at our mailing list at: http://groups.google.com/group/codeplex-foundation
InfoQ: Thanks Sam, for taking the time to talk to InfoQ.
What is CPF trying to solve?
This raises the questions:
1. What are "the licensing and intellectual property needs of commercial software companies"?
2. Why are those needs not met by other open source projects and foundations?
3. How will CPF meet those needs?