That's the question that the recently formed Open Solutions Alliance (OSA) has to answer. The group is publishing an Interoperability Roadmap that it hopes will help reduce the interoperability friction across open source software solutions.
The OSA isn't likely to be publishing its own standards but rather will be recommending how open source vendors can properly use and implement existing standards in their applications.
"We are a group that produces results," Barry Klawans, CTO of Jaspersoft and OSA member, told internetnews.com. "We're trying to be a pragmatic group; we're not all about spending three years trying to produce an uber standard that is great on paper but impossible to implement."
One of the key interoperability efforts that the OSA is undertaking first is an initiative to define a Common Customer View.
Klawans said the Common Customer View will integrate with multiple types of projects, include single sign on capabilities and provide a consistent view of what a customer is and how to interact with them.
The Single sign part of the Common Customer View is an area that the OSA will place a lot of emphasis on.
"The goal is to have an open pluggable system so you can authenticate against whatever you want; it could be open source or closed," Klawans said. "But the idea is that once you authenticate in one application, credentials are propagated to the other apps."
The OSA is aiming to demonstrate its implementation of Common Customer View at the LinuxWorld show this summer.
Klawans also noted that the OSA is taking aim at a recommendation for how to implement application monitoring across open source applications.
"There are some good standards in the application-monitoring space and we're not going to recreate them," Klawans said. "Open source needs to put the hooks in to support the standards that are out there."
Klawans admitted that Jaspersoft doesn't have application-monitoring hooks in place, though it is something the company working on. "What we'll be doing at the OSA is saying that the open source members need to support monitoring extensions standards," Klawans said.
The OSA originally started in February at the LinuxWorld Open Solutions summit as a group that would just identify and make recommendations for standards. In the last two months the approach has changed a bit, according to Klawans.
"Real IT folks have interoperability problems today," Klawans said. "So instead of starting out with recommendations, we're going to do proof-of-concept implementations, then take what we've learned and make those drive the implementation of the standard."
Apparently the OSA approach and message is one that is gaining converts, too. When the effort launched, Jaspersoft, Hypernic, EntepriseDB, Spikesource, Adaptive Planning, OpenBravo, Groundwork, CentricCRM, SourceForge.net, Collabnet and Unisys were charter members.