OS3G - Open Source, 3rd Generation

A (humble) attempt to publish news from the trenches where Free/Libre/Open-Source Software is brought to the mainstream -- and Francois Letellier's blog, too

Thursday, January 26, 2006

NESSI Forum - Brussels

Spent the whole day at the NESSI Forum conference in Brussels today.

Quick facts: about 340 attendees, 123 organizations (incl about 35 universities), 18 countries represented.


Opening Session

Mr Jean-Paul Lepeytre (Senior VP, Thales and NESSI Chairman) gave the welcome address. Jean-Paul thanked the European Commission for its support to NESSI. One main challenge for NESSI is to contribute to the change of the European economy toward a service based economy. In this vision, open standards and open source are to play important roles. Making Europe stronger and improving the well being of citizens are key objectives of NESSI. The first NESSI forum aims at presenting and explaining NESSI to the general public, with the second goal to provide concrete information about the way to get involved.

1st Session - service economy

Dr Jan Bosch (VP, Nokia Research center) argues that there's a major change taking place in society: an orientation towards services. Eg: from buying a train ticket online to being physically transported by train; SMS appointment cancellation and rescheduling services... Well, not suprisingly, most of Jan's examples in a way or another relied on mobile phones. Discussed socio economic trends are: faster communicatiuons, better utilization of competences and ressources transition from standalone business models to networked business organizations, transition from products to services and faster feedback cycles. Jan eventually dropped the "Web 2.0" buzzword: computing moving towards the edge of the network; platformization of software technology; software engineering evolves later binding. Ubiquitous wireless infrastructure and mobility are key enablers of societal evolution. Products become attached with invisible on-line services. Need to build and maintain trust in the network. Jan listed key technical challenges for NESSI: user interface, trust, constant change of implementations, scaling for better performance, end-user empowerment, constant change of demand and supply, market creation.

NESSI's motto is: "NESSI is about transforming the EU economy through service oriented business models" -- customer driven approach; look at customers, citizens, end users; vertical prototypes to get the horizontal issues; multidisciplinary approach; partner and learn together with Open Source (Jan sees it as a major enabler and argued that companies need to learn to become part of the open source community rather that just be users of open source); speed up using shorter iteration cycles.

Mr Joao Da Silva (Director European Commission) presented what an "European Technology Platform" is. A key function of ETP is to deliver a "Strategic Research Agenda" to steer the direction of European research for the 10-20 coming years. Beyond research funding is the idea to create a "club" of partners sharing a same vision. Jao sensor came back on the idea that computing is moving to the edge of the network, mentioning networks, RFID. Network complexity is gonna be increased by orders of magnitude. Systems working on the Internet may just not scale up. Reliability, certification may become increasingly important. "The future is bright, the future is NESSI," said Jaoa as a concluding remark. Mr Ulf Dahlsten (Director European Commission) then took the stage. He reemphasized that NESSI is about making the European economy better on innovation. To do this, it is neccasry to have a better link between the European commission and the industry, and it is a motivation for ETPs. A legal definition used by the Commission of an "European company" is having operations / research in Europe (as opposed to legal ownership -- and this is why "Big Blue" is, ironically enough, European after all). He emphasized on the fact that Europe is increasingly a deregulated world. Ulf expressed he wants to see practical results, want to see industry growing, ...

2nd session - SRA

Dr Joachim Schaper (SAP) started his presentation talking of market expectations for SOA. He said customers want to lower risks, increase process flexibility and accept complex world environments. The IT industry will transform, and NESSI will foster this change. 25 years ago, wa had integrated lines of business. The in the late 80s/early 90s, came more flexible lines of business -- it was a best of breed era. What we are looking at, Joachim argues, is more adaptative business networks (not technical networks, but the way businesses interact).

Core concepts of NESSI are explained in a high-level, synthetic "holistic view". The core services are grouped in the "NESSI framework" (mainly IT & software). On top of this framework, the "NESSI landscape" constitues a business level of services. Economic value is to be derived from these services. Engineering on the NESSI framework needs to be performed in a collaborative manner.

Core services includes an infrastructure layer (network, grid, virtualization, SOA, etc), a service integration layer (connectivity, etc) and a semantic layer (modeling business rules). Cross-cutting topics are trust & security, interoperability and management services. NESSI will, Joachim said, build on principles like trust and dependability, open standards, foster open source, comprehensive view, quality and independant implementation.

Q&A Session

Stefano de Panfilis (Engineering) was one of the responsibles for assembling the first version of the SRA. Stefano will give a presentation next week during ObjectWebCon '06, in Paris.

An attendee pointed out a major concern (that had been pointed out by Jean-Bernard Stefani during the first ONESSI workshop) is with the layered model, to create legacy / incumbent environments which are very hard to get rid of.

Question was brought up of the place of academics and SMEs and tangible results they may use. After publication of SRA v1, input from the community will be gathered to create next versions.

JP Lepeytre pointed out that NESSI is the result of unlikely collaboration between 13 players that most often are competitors to one an other. The competition between continents is outdated, Jean-Paul said. What brings the NESSI founders together is the conviction that everyone will benefit from collaborating to making Europe stronger.

Several questions were related to proliferation of standards and the dominence of US based standards bodies over standards. The answer is a greater emphasis on open standards. NESSI may ba a place where participants may discuss about standards before allocating resources to participate in standard organizations.

Last question was from a Microsoft employee, arguing there are 27,000 companies deriving revenue from non open source business models and asking what would be there place in NESSI...


2nd session cont'd

Krishna Nathan (IBM) started the afternoon. IBM's prefered buzzword today seems to be the newly coined concept of "service science". I'm not sure how much of a science it is, but this is not the point here. Krishna presented some of the evolutions that go with the shift from a product oriented economy to a service oriented economy: Invention -> Innovation; Build to forecasted demand -> Detect demand and respond; Product functions -> Value to customer; Information science -> Service science; Single discipline -> Multiple disciplines; Central innovation model -> Innovation with client. "Enterprises are deconstructing into more componentized business functions for improved productivity and flexibility -- this is being accelerated by Web Services and SOA". Krishna advocated for oepn standards enabled interoperability.

3rd session - Getting involved

Reinhold Achatz (Siemens, NESSI Vice Chairman) introduced his speech by mentioning that Siemens definitely is a software company (more developers than Microsoft). NESSI Forum will count 4 communities : ICT Industry, SME, USer, Academic & Research. Working groups are created as needed (current: SRA, Governance, New members, Forum and Communication). New working groups to be created: identify major topics and application areas, collect new ideas, invite community members and assign responsibilities. NESSI would like to establish a member states "mirror group" to coordinate research projects, national project selection, goals and research strategies. A NESSI office will be established soon; the facility has already been found in Brussels. It will be necessary to monitor projects instanciating the SRA: establish project assessment approach, project labelling approach. About standardization: need to define topics of interest, identify and liaise to relevant standardization efforts, identify interested partners and install working groups. The SRA is to be developped in volumes: Volume 1 (available) is about "Framing the future of the SO economy", Volume 2 (expected May 06) about "Strategy to build NESSI". SRA v3 will come in section, the first (7/2006) being the short term road map. The labelling process is to be defined before FP7 Launch. Somewhere in the future there would be a NESSI "reference implementation". Open source community communication is to be started now. Citizen communication would start somewhere betweeb 2006 and 2008.

Dario Avallone (Engineering) explained how to become an active NESSI member. NESSI he said is the translation of Italian "nexus": "cooperation links". It's about achieving a goal that none of the partners could achieve on its own. So why should one be involved? To make NESSI happen (contribute to the transformation of the European economy, to improve the well being of European citizen and society). Academia, research, ICT, users, policy makers, SME, SME associations should get involved. There are 3 levels of membership in NESSI: the NESSI community contribute to "participative awareness"; NESSI members contribute to NESSI (main work force); NESSI Partners (13 founders) take care of coordination. The NESSI Forum will meet at least once a year to discuss, validate and plan NESSI progress in achieving vision and goals. Each community in the forum will have a representative in the Steering Committee. Participation (becoming a member) is subject to completion of a registration process handled by the NESSI office. Online registration will start February 1, 2006 (www.nessi-europe.com). Participation to working groups will be open online starting Feb 15, 2006. In terms of governance, a Steering Committee will be composed of 13 founding plus 3 representatives for each committee (total 25 members). Application to participation in the steering committee will be open between February 15 and March 31, 2006. The Board will count 1 person for each founding partner plus 1 representative for each community (total 17). Online Board application will be open between Feb 15 and Mar 31. Governance has been structured to achieve the right balance between openness and effective coordination.

Jean-Jacques LĂ©andi (French Ministry of Finance and Industry - directorate general to the modernization of the State) explains the challenges facing when it comes to serving a large spectrum of "users" and interconnecting information systems of various administrations. He explained that packaged solutions would not fit the bill, but tailored made systems are neccessary.

Roberto Gagliardi (Metaware, an Italian SME, a spinoff from CNR, the National Research Council) gave the view point of a innovative small European company. He said NESSI is a good opportunity for an SME such as Metaware. NESSI is democratic and has mechanisms to valorize small players. It will encourage trans-national cooperation. He argued that transforming the EU economy through service oriented business models means understanding the dynamicity of local business models. Often times, he explained, technology developpers are backed by a whole supply chain of SMEs and labs specializing in high tech domains. Open standards and open source software enhance the availability of trusted software resources by SMEs. Also, SMEs contribute in extending the acceptance on open source based services.

Pr Ian Sommerville (St Andrews University, Scotland) presented the viewpoint of an academic on NESSI. He said that a large number of funding projects over the last 20 years have addressed what NESSI is about to address. He highlighted that many of these projects never deliver business success. He mentioned Atmosphere (never heard of), a monolithic project, a waste of 100 million Euros he said. What's needed is mechanisms to bridge the gaps between industry and academia, but also between industry and industry. He appealed for the development of well founded theories to address real problems. Beware of bureaucracy and bean counting he said...


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