Saturday, March 25, 2006


Community Maturity Models

I think I have discovered a predictor of enterprise adoption and its
correlation to the maturity of a community that I wanted to share...

There are several communities that have had rapid uptake within the enterprise. Many of these communities were successful in that they had several factors working in their favor. A quick analysis of communities whose uptake is a lot slower reveals common behavior patterns that are important for enterprises to consider before going down the path.

For example, The Agile Software Development community has a great value proposition that many enterprises should seriously consider. The simple fact though, is that uptake within enterprises whose primary business model isn't in technology have not really adopted it in meaningful way. While there are success stories out there, many of them are based on pockets of activity within the enterprise while other successes go unpublished. Wildly successful communities have removed many of the constraints that hinder uptake by letting the community grow above and beyond its original founding memberswhich will attract more media attention which results in more awareness.

Another characteristic of successful communities are their support for thosewho prefer to take an easier route to learning than to geek out and do deep research. It is well-known that the characteristics of being a successfuldeveloper within a large enterprise is vastly different than being a successful developer that works for a consulting firm or software house. Communities thatsupport those characteristics tend to have better uptake at the enterprise level. Communities that never really cross the chasm, fill their egos by attacking others and take pride in pointing out to folks that they should RTFM.

Below are several communities that have been successful and have a high level
of maturity...

Liferay Liferay is a 100% open source enterprise-class Java Based
Portal that has not only been proven to be highly reliable and scalable but has one of the best support models available. In subscribing to its listserv, you will see members supporting each other. In a quick analysis of the email addresses, you will find participants from several major enterprises.

The original creator of Liferay, Brian Chan also frequently
participates in dialog and goes out of his way to be helpful. His
humbleness hides any self-promotion and it isn't even mentioned that he was the creator anywhere in the documentation. Liferay also encourages spirituality and charity amongst its user base.

Eclipse Eclipse is a IDE used mainly by Java Developers but can also be used for other languages. It is now the number one used IDE for Java software development in corporate America. The person who has stewardship over Eclipse isn't known by most folks within the community. Members who participate in Eclipse development emphasize that it is notreally about the IDE but it is all about the community.
ServiceMix If you seek an Enterprise Service Bus that is capable of scaling to 384 CPUs and adheres to pretty much every standard that
matters, this is it. It also happens to be 100% open source and will be shortly listed in Gartner's Magic Quadrant and Forrester's Wave in the leaders section.

When you subscribe to their listserv, you will see tons of questions asked by many users most of which are addressed in the FAQ. That doesn't hinder the community though in supporting those attempting to understand how to implement a Service Bus. The community seems more interested in
increasing uptake than in getting it twisted as to if a question was already answered.

CMM The Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon
was hired by the Federal government to bring consistency to the government procurement processes. CMM now no longer is focused on this goal and was allowed to expand into a measure of process maturity and has been adopted by prominent large consulting firms (e.g. WiPro, TCS, Cognizant, Satyam, CSC, EDS, etc) and the clients that serve them.
There are multiple conferences held all over the world not only by the original creators but others to further promote uptake and help others understand their value proposition.
GNU/Linux Some folks are aware that GNU/Linux was really created by
Richard Stallman while others still believe in the pervasive
perpetuation of inaccuracy that Linus Torvalds should get all the credit. This has never stopped the community from continuing its push not only into the enterprise but into dimensions not previously explored. Today, there are several large enterprises who not only use Linux but also contribute to its success by funding development and other special projects, contributing source code and supporting others.

I suspect that no one in the past has attempted to compare the dynamics of distinct communities. Of course, each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Whatis important though is that strong communities are savage in increasing their maturity...

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