OSBC, the Open Source Business Conference that took place in San Francisco this week, just wrapped up. I'm sitting here in my hotel room, trying to digest all of the conversations that I've had over the past days and process the presentations that I attended (as well as trying to stay awake a bit longer). If you put a few hundred people from different Open Source projects together in one venue, there is a lot to consume, and even more to talk about in the hallways.
In addition to talking about Open Source for hours straight, I participated in a panel discussion led by Michael Skok (Partner at North Bridge and Acquia Board Member). Together with the other panelists — Marten Mikos (ex-CEO MySQL), Ron Hovsepian (CEO of Novell), John Roberts (CEO of SugarCRM) and John Lilly (CEO of Mozilla) — we discussed the future of Open Source based on the results of the Future of Open Source 2009 survey. The general consensus was that, for a variety of reasons, the down turn in the economy will have a positive impact on Open Source. The consensus was also that, as the "Open Source disruption" continues to move up the stack, the traditional web content management space will get shaken up in the next couple of years. I think that the Drupal project, with its larger ecosystem, will be there at the right time, at the right place. It is clear that Drupal will have an important role to play in this. I can't wait.
Other than the panel session, I gave a 50 minute presentation on building Open Source communities — a topic close to my heart. The slides of my presentation are available here (20 MB, PDF).
I've talked to many Open Source business leaders in the last few days. I shared a dinner table with Jim Whitehurst (CEO of RedHat), Ron Hovsepian (CEO of Novell), Marten Mickos (the incredibly smart ex-CEO of MySQL), John Powell (CEO of Alfresco, whom I'd love to work with more), Zack Urlocker (VP Lifecycle Marketing at Sun, whom I still have to ask why he has a different hair style in every online avatar), and more .... I had conversations with Eric Gries (CEO of Lucid Imaginiation, an interesting new start-up built around Apache Solr), Navin Nagiah (CEO of DotNetNuke), Roy Russo (CEO of Loopfuse, the marketing automation tool that make Open Source businesses work), Chris DiBona (Open Source Manager at Google and role model for many of us geeks), Mike Olson (CEO of Cloudera, another hot Open Source start-up), Bruce Perens (who first defined the term "Open Source"), Mike Moody (VP of Engineering at Jaspersoft and all-around nice guy), John Lilly (CEO of Mozilla/Firefox), JD Lasica (the social media expert that I run into every time I'm in SF), Doug Harr (CIO of Ingres, who taught me a few things about European music), Lawrence Rosen and Mark Radcliffe (two world-famous Open Source lawyers), Jeff Sheltren (Operations Manager at OSL, who hosts the drupal.org infrastructure making them one of the top Drupal contributors), Dave Neary (Gnome foundation member and and a "real" Open Source guy), Rafael Laguna de la Vera (CEO of Open-Xchange and former SUSE exec), Mike Woster (Business Development Director at the Linux Foundation), Andrew Rodaway (Director of Marketing at Canonical, and who, together with Matthew Nuzum, is responsible for running ubuntu.com on Drupal), and many more. I can go on forever, but I'm sure you've got the point — there were lots of great people to learn from.
Compared to the traditional, more developer-oriented, Open Source conferences like OSCON, FOSDEM, and Froscon, it all felt a bit like a "parallel universe". Open Source, all day, all the time, yet a different audience. One difference was that I didn't notice many representatives from our other sister CMS projects. I feel pretty strongly, though, that it's important for us to continue pushing the envelope in our evangelization of Drupal and that conferences like this produce many unexpected benefits. Attending OSBC helped put — or will keep — Drupal on the radar screens of many of the key players in our industry. Kudos to Tom, Jay and Bryan — my colleagues at Acquia — to help spread the Drupal word at OSBC.