I spent the last two days in Brussels with many of the key participants in the OpenESB Community. OpenESB is a large software subsystem that conveniently allows all kinds of applications to communicate with each other across networks. It was created by Sun, but since the Oracle acquisition has, as the former Sun project leader (now at Google) wrote eloquently, languished in the decline reserved for projects with important customers which are nonetheless no longer wanted. There’s the soft sound of footsteps backing away to leave it in splendid, unannounced isolation.
The community around OpenESB is actually fairly active, and they (or, as it includes ForgeRock where I now work, perhaps I should say “we”) want OpenESB to stay around. But what do you do if the project is hosted somewhere under the control of a disinterested party? There’s no huge crime or disagreement to “justify” a fork and the code is still out there, but on the other hand any new plans really will need the source and the community presence hosted in a way that allows the interested parties to change and improve things without having to wait for weeks to get replies to requests and risk having them declined if they are deemed inconvenient.
That’s why the topic under discussion is not forking – the remaining community is not divided – but rehosting. That’s also how I would characterise what ForgeRock has done with OpenAM (formerly OpenSSO) and OpenDJ (formerly OpenDS). No conflict, no malice, just a desire by the remaining community to carry on in the aftermath of the main sponsor backing silently away.
[An expanded version of this post can be found on ComputerWorldUK]