Interview: Anthony Gold Takes Over as President of Open Solutions Alliance

by Ostatic Staff - Dec. 02, 2008

Since forming in 2007, the vendor-neutral nonprofit consortium Open Solutions Alliance (OSA) has been working toward raising the awareness of open source in enterprise through a combination of education and marketing. As the group prepares to enter the new year, the OSA announced today that a new leadership team is poised to take over. Anthony Gold, vice president and general manager of open source business at Unisys, will replace former OSA president Dominic Sartorio as president of the organization.

OStatic caught up with Gold recently and asked him to share his vision as OSA's new president, and tell us a little about where the Alliance is headed. Here's what he had to say:

OStatic: Why the change in leadership at the OSA?

We believe that passing the baton is an important way to keep the organization fluid and energized. The former leadership team, including President Dominic Sartorio, can not be matched for its ability to get the OSA off the ground and for helping to make a real impact on open solutions interoperability and education. Because of the original leadership team, OSA continues to do great work today that contributes to the open source community at the development and business levels.

The new leadership team will be focused on sustaining that momentum and building new areas for community and collaboration among its members and the consumers of open solutions. My hope is that through our increasing work on projects like the Common Customer View (CCV) that we'll attract new members that will help us take the OSA to the next level -- as the business thought-leader of open solutions in the enterprise.

OStatic: What did you learn from your time at Unisys that will help you at the OSA?

Creating and running the open source business at Unisys helped me realize that open source is just an enabler. It’s the business solutions that matter most, and the extent to which open solutions help drive increased agility, reduced cost, and better competitive positioning, is what truly matters. And, perhaps just as significant, it’s a hybrid world out there. There’s no such thing as “one size fits all." The solution for one customer may look a lot different than the solution for another customer. As such, the OSA will focus on driving interoperability of open solutions and community interactions, and becoming the thought-leader of open solutions in the enterprise.

OStatic: What's your first order of business as president?

My first priority is to meet with the members - first as a whole, and then in one-on-ones with every existing and potential member to best chart the organization's ongoing success.

OStatic: What are some of your short- and long-term goals in your new position?

In the short term, I want to get engage the existing membership on our priorities for 2009. It's going to be an interesting year given the economic conditions under which everyone is operating. This will be both a challenge and an opportunity for the OSA.

In the long term, my goal is ensure that the OSA is contributing significantly to the open solutions development and business communities by driving standards, communities and best practices for deploying open solutions. This means work on interoperability and education, to name just two.

OStatic: You've said, "I think the future of business solutions, whether they are open or proprietary, depends heavily on how well they interoperate across the business … hence the major thrust around Services Oriented Architecture." Can you elaborate on SOA and why it's so important to the Alliance?

There is so much legacy software that is out there performing mission critical functions for business. No one believes that ripping it all out is a viable approach to modernization. Businesses are looking for a much more evolutionary approach to that. The first step is building wrappers around existing core code to expose the key business functions. But, to make that all work and fit together within the overall needs of the business, a services strategy is required, particularly around granularity, scope, and governance. SOA is the key to making that work, and that’s why it’s a key piece of our OSA strategy.

OStatic: How has the adoption of open source in enterprise changed in the last year or so? Obviously, people point to the changing economy as a reason for a surge in the uptake of open source, but what else is responsible?

There is no doubt that the economy is driving demand for open source software but it's also the maturity of the solutions. It's really the perfect storm for open source. The economic climate is being met with mature, supported open solutions that work well in any enterprise environment. Open source is firing on all cylinders: functionality, support and value.

OStatic: What compels companies to join the OSA?

Companies join the OSA for a variety of reasons but the primary one is that they have a passion for driving open solutions and helping businesses leverage open source. Another benefit of being part of the OSA is that its helps vendors ensure interoperability of their solutions, not only with many other member companies, but also with the open solutions world at large. Customers expect the software they deploy to work with other solutions in their environment. The OSA is the only organization that can ensure this kind of interoperability through the collaboration of its members and its extended community.

OStatic: When the OSA first formed in 2007, its goals were education marketing, to create a list of best practices, and to form meta-communities. How well has the OSA met those goals?

We've had a lot of success with our education and marketing initiatives. I believe we're driving awareness of interoperability as a key issue for our collective customers. Also, by establishing OSA Europe earlier this year, we've been able to have a global reach as an organization. Our Customer Forum Series was also met with a lot of interest and participation.

As for best practices, we started with the goal of driving best practices but decided pretty early on that getting our hands dirty with reference implementations would provide the most value to members and our respective customers. And, of course those implementations then inform our best practices. The Common Customer View (CCV) was the first and is still the most significant example.

We still have work to do with our meta-communities initiative. Building a community of both developer and business executives requires sustained investments in time and energy. With Essentia on board as a new member and with its CEO Gopi Ganapathy as the OSA's new community development chair, I believe we're primed to see more activity here.

OStatic: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

We started out 2007 with just 10 members. Now we’re up to 26 and growing. This will only continue to benefit the open solutions customers. We’ve got some great momentum and a terrific team of partners and friends. Open solutions are “just what the doctor ordered” for today’s economic climate, and the OSA intends to help shape this future.