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Here’s a closer look at why a working group is a great alternative to a traditional association


A Proven Governance and Legal Framework Reduces Risks

Associations that attempt to develop their own governance and legal framework for open collaboration likely don’t have the intellectual property (IP) and patent licensing expertise needed to get it right.

Unfortunately, many associations adopt old-style IP and licensing models that break the open source collaboration model because developers can’t simply take a piece of source code and freely experiment with it. This restriction limits widescale adoption of the open source software, slows technology advancement, and makes the results of the association’s efforts far less relevant.

Multiple European associations that leverage open source software have approached the Eclipse Foundation for assistance with their governance model. They know the Eclipse Foundation already has an established governance and legal framework for open source collaboration, community building, and innovation. Plus, they see the value in adopting a framework that was built with community support and feedback, and that has been accepted and successfully implemented for years.

Because all Eclipse Foundation members have already agreed to follow the Foundation’s governance framework, there’s no need to work through the many different, and potentially conflicting, interests that can arise when a new association is created.

New open source ecosystems that recognize these benefits, and want to keep governance and legal risks as low as possible, are also choosing to host their efforts at the Eclipse Foundation, including:

We have been working hard with Linaro, Seco, Array, NOITechPark, and Synesthesia to prepare Oniro’s initial code contribution and public cloud CI/CD infrastructure, and it is so exciting to see everything moving under the expert governance of the Eclipse Foundation.”

— Davide Ricci,

Director of Consumer Business Group European Open Source Technology Center, Huawei


Faster, Easier Setup Accelerates Time to Market

It can easily take several years to reinvent all of the governance and processes the Eclipse Foundation has already developed. One of the major European associations that came to the Eclipse Foundation for assistance had been working on its IP policy and bylaws for 18 months with very few tangible results.

In contrast, the Eclipse Software Defined Vehicle Working Group was able to take advantage of the existing Eclipse Foundation framework and processes. As a result, ecosystem members began openly collaborating just three months after initially joining forces. This is an amazing achievement, given the potential complexity that can arise among such a broad range of large, world-class organizations. Founding members include:


True Vendor Neutrality Levels the Playing Field

One of the main reasons organizations have historically chosen to form a new open source association is to maintain control over the way the ecosystem operates, rather than adopt a governance model they can’t change. Unfortunately, the control these organizations seek ends up stifling open collaboration and innovation opportunities:

  • Small and medium-sized organizations don’t have the financial or legal resources to adequately review the governance of multiple, uniquely operated open source associations. This tilts governance in favor of larger organizations.

  • When larger organizations dominate, the ecosystem can’t fully benefit from the innovation and cutting-edge skill sets that smaller, more nimble, and entrepreneurial organizations often bring to the table.

Working groups hosted at the Eclipse Foundation follow a charter that clearly defines the collaborative boundaries for ecosystem members. Every ecosystem member has an equal voice and an equal vote, no matter the size of their organization, their membership fees, or how many of their staff participate in the ecosystem.

This level playing field opens the door for organizations of all sizes, and at all stages of development, to openly innovate and collaborate. Inevitably, the ecosystem output is more advanced and innovative, and is relevant to a much wider range of organizations to drive broader technology adoption.

We were very surprised and pleased to learn we would be on equal terms with the big vendors, which with the same voice and the same vote as they have on the projects we participate in.”

— Steve Millidge,

Payara Services, a member of the Jakarta EE Working Group


An Established Brand and Infrastructure Increase Ecosystem Health, Visibility

The growing number of siloed, special-purpose, and single-topic open source associations and foundations fractures and weakens the global open source ecosystem.

With so much noise in the open source universe, it’s difficult for associations, particularly smaller ones, to create the visibility needed for sustainable operations. Staffing and financial shortfalls, and lack of experience nurturing open source communities, compound the challenges. And every association is chasing a finite member pool.

The Eclipse Foundation brand is globally recognized and proven to boost credibility for ecosystems and their members. With consistent governance, licensing, and life cycle models across all communities and projects, it’s easy and cost-effective for organizations to participate in all initiatives that interest them.

To support and nurture the working groups it hosts, the Eclipse Foundation provides the services many ecosystems are unable to deliver on their own, including:

  • IP and trademark management and licensing
  • Ecosystem development and marketing
  • Collaborative management
  • Specification development
  • Branding and compatibility
  • Marketing and promotion
  • IT infrastructure

With no need to worry about staffing and delivering these critical services, ecosystems are free to focus on technology and innovation objectives while continuing to grow and diversify.


Collaboration Has No Boundaries

In a standalone open source association, collaboration opportunities are typically limited to the members of the association.

At the Eclipse Foundation, there are endless opportunities for ecosystem members and entire ecosystems to openly collaborate on shared goals across technologies and industry focus areas. There’s no need to negotiate individual agreements or manage multiple highly diverse sets of requirements and rules.

At the ecosystem level, a number of working groups are collaborating to strengthen their individual efforts, including:

Within these very diverse ecosystems, members ranging from major multinational players to small, entrepreneurial organizations have discovered the potential to combine their respective technologies. For example, Obeo, a Strategic Member of the Eclipse Foundation with a few dozen employees, is partnering with Thales, a multinational corporation with tens of thousands of employees. Both companies contribute to numerous Eclipse Foundation projects.

We’re able to partner with Thales on projects for the long term. We’re also able to build on our experiences and involvement in the Eclipse Foundation to act as a middleman who can help and advise Thales about opportunities to enhance their solutions.”

— Cédric Brun,

CEO, Obeo

Jumpstart Open Source Innovation at the Eclipse Foundation

When you create a new association, your open source ecosystem is starting from nothing. However, when you create a new working group at the Eclipse Foundation, your open source ecosystem begins with a strong foundation of governance, processes, and infrastructure it can immediately leverage.

Since 2019, the number of working groups hosted at the Eclipse Foundation has nearly tripled. More than 190 Eclipse Foundation members are also members of working group ecosystems, and a growing number participate in multiple working groups.

Affordable Fees Open the Door to All

The fees for Eclipse Foundation membership, and for working group membership, are based on annual corporate revenues, so it’s affordable for organizations of all sizes to join working groups. And each working group has the flexibility to tailor its charter to define the right set of membership levels, fees, and committees to support its goals.

Learn More

To learn more about the benefits of setting up a working group at the Eclipse Foundation, visit our website or contact us today.

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