Microsoft the latest to sponsor the Open Source Census

Pulling another big surprise, Microsoft has signed on as a sponsor of OpenLogic's Open Source Census, giving it more access than most to the survey's findings about open source software downloads by enterprise developers.

First unveiled in December, the Census represents an attempt by tools vendor OpenLogic and its partners to pinpoint which open source packages are being used in various kinds of enterprise settings, and to share that information among developers, their employers, and software vendors.

But right from the start, OpenLogic has envisioned sharing the data at various "layers" of participation or contribution.

Also joining the OSC as new sponsors now are four other organizations: software vendors ActiveState and EnterpriseDB, Oregon State Univeristy's Open Source Lab, and OSAlalt.com.

Back in the first phase of the Open Source Census initiative, rolled out late last year, OpenLogic introduced a new version of its OSS Discovery tool for software discovery, adding an open source plug-in architecture with built-in "fingerprint" rules for pinpointing which OSS packages are in place. Then, in April, OpenLogic launched an online platform for developers to use in reporting which software is installed on their systems, also announcing an initial list of sponsors in the venture.

Yet access to the collected data is being offered at three main levels, according to Kim Weins, OpenLogic's senior VP of Marketing.

"You can look at this as sort of like a salary survey. At the first level, you can contribute information anonymously, and you'll also be able to see 'counts' [of the software packages] that others have found," said Weins, in an earlier interview with BetaNews.

At a second layer, users who opt in to identify themselves are able to view "all of their own data summarized -- and they also [get to see] their data compared with that of others -- how open source software is being used in the total ecosphere, in their own industry, and among their competitors," Weins said.

Data collected on a voluntary basis includes the name of the company, size of the company, and geographic information, for example.

"But the third layer [of access] is for partners," according to the senior VP. Open source vendors and other partners joining in get "extra" access to the Open Source Census database repository for analyzing and "slicing and dicing" information.

But although participation in the census project is free to developers and enterprises, software vendors and other sponsoring partners are each paying some sort of a price for the extra access, according to Weins. Contributions range from cash to 'in kind' contributions such as hardware, software, or legal assistance with intellectual property issues.

Previously announced sponsors of the open source survey include OpenLogic; industry analyst firm IDC; OSS development tools vendor CollabNet; Holme Roberts & Owen, LLP; system integrator Navica; open source strategy consultancy the Olliance Group; hardware and software vendor Unisys; and two nonprofit groups: the Open Solutions Alliance and the Open Source Business Foundation.

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