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Open Solutions Alliance Still Alive

"Interoperability" is a buzzword that means a lot of different things. Sometimes it refers to interoperability in heterogeneous operating system environments. In the case of the Open Solutions Alliance, it refers to interoperability across different open source applications.

The OSA officially launched in February at the LinuxWorld Open Solutions Summit as a consortium tasked with making open source applications more friendly to enterprise users. Making them work together is a key to that friendliness.

"OSA wants to be about doing things. We don't want to be a consortium that sits around for months inspecting our navels and then coming up with nothing," OSA spokesperson and Jaspersoft CTO Barry Klawans told internetnews.com.

"The Common Customer View (CCV) is our first major project and it's an ambitious one. The issue that we've heard from enterprises is that they need open source solutions to work together and don't want them to be multiple siloed applications."

CCV was put together to address the issue. Klawans explained that with CCV the OSA is trying to show data and user interface integration. The OSA is also showing single sign on across a number of different applications. The items being shown by the OSA were identified as key deliverables for the group as far back as April.

At the core of CCV is what Klawans described as a common data model for a customer.

"So you can add a customer in, say, your ERP system and then they will automatically show up in your CRM system and you'll see the same customer fields and records," Klawans explained. "You can modify the record in the ERP system and it will update in the CRM system."

A good chunk of the CCV effort is about data integration, which is something that OSA member Talend is helping to provide. Klawans noted that Talend does both ETL  and data integration so you can do on-demand, record-by-record processing. The record comes in from application A and it can move it immediately to application B.

In the case of the shared user interface, the OSA isn't using Talend's data integration but rather is simply sharing a few Java Server Pages (JSPs).

Though what the OSA is trying to achieve may sound similar to what users can already achieve with Java portlets, Klawans disagreed. Klawans argued that what CCV does is more sophisticated and complete than what can be achieved simply by pulling in various applications inside of a portlet.

"I can include a view of a customer inside of my portlet, and that's great for visual integration," Klawans said. "But if you need to interact and modify that customer, it's probably not going to be very efficient."

With CCV, end users can both access and modify data that will show up across multiple applications, which, in Klawans view, is not something that is being done well today in open source outside of the OSA.

Though the OSA is still alive and kicking, Klawans would not comment on whether the effort has provided any customer wins or financial dividends for the member firms.

"I can tell you that I hope it will drive a lot of interest and I think that should spill over to the vendors involved," Klawans said. "Whether it lives up to our expectations or not we'll have to see."