The content management company Day Software may not be the world's most famous outfit making money from open source – perhaps a function of the fact that it is located in Basel, hardly known as a hotbed of hackers – but it's certainly an important one, particularly in the Apache part of the open source ecosystem.
That's partly because Day's Chief Scientist, Roy Fielding, was co-founder of the Apache Software Foundation, author of the Apache Software licence, and creator of the Apache web server. Mostly, though, it's through its deep involvement in a number of major Apache projects:
Day's R&D team are strong contributors to the open source world, with a development model based on building true open source communities around key technology advancements that originate in Day R&D through the sponsorship of new projects via the Apache Software Foundation.
Top-level projects such as Apache Jackrabbit (the reference implementation of the JSR-170 standard), Apache Sling (an industry-first REST-based web application development framework), and Apache Felix (an OSGi R4 Service Platform implementation) are examples of Day's unique commitment to open source.
In total, Day Software contributes to over 12 Apache projects and 25 open source projects. www.ohloh.org, an independent website that tracks open source contributions, shows that over 75% of Day engineers are active committers to open source projects, with over 75% of those engineers being ranked in the top 1% of open source developers worldwide.
Given that leading role there, news that Adobe is acquiring Day takes on an added significance. Here's Adobe's rationale for the purchase:
Adobe’s acquisition of Day will strengthen the company’s enterprise software solutions with market leading Web Content Management (WCM), Digital Asset Management and Social Collaboration offerings. This acquisition represents a significant market opportunity for Adobe to help organizations transform themselves by enabling them to create, manage, distribute and monetize content while optimizing the web experience for their customers.
Day’s leading web solutions combined with Adobe’s existing enterprise portfolio will enable customers to better integrate their global web presence and business applications, unlocking value across their marketing, sales and service processes. In addition, Day customers will be able to leverage more interactive application and document capabilities from Adobe AIR, Adobe Flash, Flex, Adobe LiveCycle and PDF.The combination of Day and Adobe will help customers realize the full potential of the web in acquiring, servicing and retaining their customers, without disrupting their existing IT infrastructures.
Two things concern me here. The first is the emphasis on integrating proprietary technologies like AIR and Flash with Day's products. The second, more worrying, is the total absence of any mention of Day's open source work. Does this mean that Adobe is taking over Day in order to turn its products into purely proprietary offerings? Will it simply abandon Day's work in supporting Apache projects?
Looking on the bright side, Adobe's acquisition of so much free software coding talent offers hope that some open source savvy will percolate through the company, turning Adobe into as much of an ally as Day was. However, the lack of any comment about continuing to support open source projects and the people who work on them at Day is worrying. If it does intend to allow its new staff to carry on as before, Adobe would be well-advised to make some public commitments to that effect. If it doesn't, it risks losing key people and raising suspicions among an already-sceptical open source community.