Open SourceCodePlex Foundation Aims to Evolve Commercial Open Source

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Almost a year after launching, the Microsoft-sponsored open source CodePlex Foundation is looking ahead to an ambitious agenda in its second year of life.

Paula Hunter, the executive director of the CodePlex Foundation, told InternetNews.comthat new efforts around branding, contributions and governance at the CodePlex Foundation are underway. The foundation is also planning to roll out a host of additional projects, with some to be officially sponsored by Microsoft and others that the software giant will not formally support.

Hunter’s efforts are aimed at delivering on the mandate of the CodePlex Foundation to help grow commercial opportunities for open source projects across the project lifecycle.

“What we’ve done is we’ve looked at the project lifecycle from concept to commercial deployment,” Hunter said. “What we’re doing is mapping out what services we can provide to the project across the lifecycle.”

In the early stages of a project when it is still being conceptualized, for example, the effort needs IP guidance and counsel on what license should be used, Hunter explained. She added that a project will also need to build and sustain a community. Once a project is ready to launch, it then requires marketing support to promote the project to the right audience.

“We’re mapping out those services now and building out the capabilities to deliver those services across the project lifecycle,” Hunter said.

One of the key items that Hunter will be working on is helping to make sure that people understand the relationship and difference between and Hunter explained that the website is the Microsoft-owned development forgefor Microsoft’s open source projects that launched in 2006. In contrast, is the independent nonprofit home of the CodePlex Foundation, which is sponsored by Microsoft.

Hunter noted that there is no requirement for CodePlex Foundation participants to use the forge, but rather that the foundation is forge-agnostic.

Hunter stressed that the CodePlex Foundation is not a proxy for Microsoft, though Microsoft is currently the lead sponsor.

“We’re an independent organization. Yes we do have Microsoft employees on our board of directors, but they’re not a majority the board,” Hunter said. “They (Microsoft) are our primary funder. We will have additional funders over time.”

Hunter said that Microsoft has made a three-year commitment to the CodePlex Foundation, noting that any new sponsors coming to the foundation will be required to sign up for the same term. Hunter declined to disclose a dollar figure that the foundation is looking for from new sponsors.

In terms of adding additional sponsors, Hunter noted that she is closing in on some opportunities that she wasn’t able to comment on, yet.

“A lot of people wanted to see the model play out, and with what we’ll be rolling out over the next several weeks, you’ll see us exhibiting a lot of traction,” Hunter said.

Overall, though, the CodePlex Foundation’s goal is not to attract a large number of sponsors.

“We’re not looking at being an organization that has dozens or hundreds of sponsors,” Hunter said. “We think a small number of focused sponsors can sustain us and keep us successful.”

Looking forward, Hunter sees two key goals for growing the CodePlex Foundation as it moves into its second year.

“When I talk to my board of directors for fiscal 2011, I characterize the priorities into two buckets: creditability and traction,” she said. “We need to continue to enhance our credibility with the community and with industry, and we need to demonstrate traction.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at

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