Great Wall of ChinaOn the heels of my post about open source in India, I just read about the merger between the ObjectWeb & OrientWare consortiums, based in Europe & China respectively. The new group is named OW2. Very cool news, and more support for Falguni Bhuta’s prediction of growing open source innovation coming from emerging countries like China.

More info on the key organizations behind ObjectWeb & OrientWare can be found here. An interesting point from top of that page:

“The goal is to provide a comprehensive middleware platform for the Chinese national information infrastructure that could challenge its foreign counterparties with respect to performance and functionality.”

It’ll be interesting to see how the Chinese government & Chinese companies select between software (specifically middleware) from traditional commercial vendors and other open source projects now that OW2 will be building competitive products. Taken to an extreme, could we see the majority of Chinese IT (middleware) dollars being spent on software from the OW2 consortium, or software that integrates strongly with OW2 products? It’s hard to imagine a Chinese company rejecting a superior product in favour of an OW2 product, but what if OW2 provided the same performance, price, usability, etc. With the huge market that China represents (although much of it is now served through pirated copies of traditional commercial software), the presence of OW2 could make traditional vendors and other open source projects think twice about integrating with OW2 products.

This merger and the partnership between JBoss and Group Bull (a key member of ObjectWeb) could help drive some attention for JBoss in China. I know that we had a lot of interest in Geronimo & WAS CE from Chinese ISVs, Red Flag Linux (which is a supported platform as a result) and several Chinese universities. Right off the bat, over 10% of our worldwide WAS CE downloads from ibm.com came from China. I’d bet that figure is higher now that we’ve focusing on China as a key market for WAS CE. (Note: I don’t know the geo splits for our sourceforge download site).

The entrance of OW2 into the open source mix presents some interesting challenges for traditional commercial vendors and competing open source projects. Vendors compete and customers reap the benefits!

Alex Fletcher has a good review of the merger here.