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Interview: Jean-Pierre Laisne from OW2

09.07.2009
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Jean-Pierre Laisne has been involved in the software industry since the early '80's. He's worked in system integration, R&D, and consulting, focusing on free software since the early '90's.

One of his first successes in the free software domain was with Linux, around 1999, in automatically installing servers for 250 branches of one of the largest English insurance companies. More recently, he joined Bull SAS to participate in the elaboration of its open source strategy. He is also working on a European project called Qualipso, more specifically on the establishment of a network of open source competence centers worldwide.

Finally, he is the president of OW2. OW2 is dedicated to Open Source Middleware and is the result of the merger of two communities of developers—ObjectWeb in Europe and OrientWare in China.

One of the OW2's products that Javalobby readers are probably familiar with is JOnAS. How does it distinguish itself over its competitors?

JOnAS is one of OW2's flagship products. JOnAS is an  application server and is Java EE 5 certified.

The main differentiators with other similar projects is its innovative design—its OSGi-based services architecture makes of JOnAS a dynamically adaptable application server.

If you add to this the OW2 JASMINe project, you have all the necessary tools for creating, deploying, and monitoring JOnAS clusters, including self-management features.

What's the current status of JOnAS?

JOnAS 5 is the current version (5.1.0-RC3 for OSGi). The JOnAS Team is currently working on an implementation of self* and High Availibilty features. An embedded version should also be released in the coming months. And of, course, a Java EE 6 implementation.

How does JOnAS benefit from being part of the consortium?

OW2 is the place where all contributors and all users from Europe, Brazil, and China can meet and discuss new features. It is a real enabler for ecosystems to come alive and be sustained.

More on JOnAS here.

Are there other products in the consortium that are of particular interest to Java developers?

Without over selling what OW2's members are doing, I would say most of the OW2 code base is targeting Java enterprise developers with serious needs in terms of features, but also in terms of performance.

You know, when we are talking about middleware, we're talking about software for real engineers. :-) Our top 10 products, these days, consists of the following:

  • Sync4J—PDAs, smart phones synchronization
  • Xwiki—OW2 web site is done with Xwiki
  • Lomboz—Eclipse plug-in participating also to WTP
  • ASM—Java byte code manipulator
  • Bonita—workflow and BPM
  • SpagoBI—Business Intelligence platform
  • Orbeon Forms—XML forms
  • eXo Platform
  • JOnAS—Java EE application server
  • PETALS—Services Platform (ESB)


You were recently a speaker at the FISL conference in Brazil. What did you think of the experience?

Brazil is a tremendous country for free sofware and software engineering at large. It has many key elements to succeed in being #1 in open source—lots of brilliant and well educated young developers, smart and well informed public institutions who envision free software as a lever for the development of Brazilian industry, large and powerful customers, a myriad of active SMEs.

OW2 is  really enjoying the development of a Local Chapter in Brazil and we are very enthusiastic with a new OW2 project called Demoiselle, which is led by SERPRO, on of the key players of the Brazilian public IT.

What are some interesting trends you're seeing in the free software movement?

From a technological point of view I, among many others, identify Cloud Computing (from platform to software as a service) as a major trend for free software (see the 2020 Floss Roadmap). This trend also represents a high risk of "re-proprietarization" of software. By that I mean that most of the Yahoos, Googles, and Amazons of the world are massively reusing free software while they offer closed and proprietary interfaces for their own services, without any real interoperability of process or data.

Their goal is clearly to capture users—a well known strategy in the IT Industry is to establish a de-facto monopoly or at least oligopoly. Hopefully lots of people are working on providing open source alternatives to proprietary clouds. But one of the big challenges for free software players will be to define what is a free/open service. Affero is a good starting point but not sufficient. Some innovative approaches have to be taken in order to have an equal openness in cloud computing as we have now thanks to free software.

Finally,  from a societal perspective, free software has brought ethical thoughts to technology. And these days concepts such as technology and solidarity are developed worldwide, we can find examples in China, India, Brazil, Europe... from microbanking, to NGOs, thanks to free software. And this may be more important than any technological trend.

What's your take on the role of Google, in particular in relation to Kindle, and Google's continuing plans relating to making books available digitally?

I am not so familiar with these cases. You know, I'm basically an old fart and I still enjoy paper books. But IMHO it exemplifies the fact that data/content is the next big thing for industry. And it will bring a lot of questions concerning property and, of course, copyright. But it will also concern privacy and, finally, may amplify the digital divide despite all efforts done to reduce it these past years.

All these questions will need to be clearly addressed by politicians and governments if we really want the information society to become a reality and not just a business case.

Anything else you'd like to share?

I would like to invite everyone to meet in Paris, 1 to 2 October, for the Open World Forum. OWF is an international event, where all free/libre open source software decision-makers and stakeholders can meet, make new connections, and evaluate new FLOSS business and social trends, players and technologies.

It would be also for me the opportunity to introduce the second edition of the 2020 Floss Roadmap.

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Published at DZone with permission of its author, Geertjan Wielenga.