Ingenium: The web magazine of Engineering

The second issue of Ingenium is dedicated to Open Source,
a phenomenon still today synonymous
with freedom of software and collaborative development.

Italian Open Source: the testimonies of Giacomo Cosenza, Roberto Galoppini and Stefano Maffulli

There is a particularly distinct group of Italians in the international Open Source community which has left an important trace. We asked some of them for a brief testimony that could shed some light on the values ​​that emerge from Open Source.

Testimony of Giacomo Cosenza

In my long career I have rarely used software devoid of sources, perhaps because I started on a glorious LISP-Machine that also had sources for its operating system. I learned from the best programmers in the world, being inspired by their code, like an apprentice in Raphael’s workshop.  And yet, the Italian ICT market insists on considering programmers as bricklayers of bits that are substitutable with one another. Nothing could be further from the truth and destructive of value. Having had to run a company, I quit programming for 15 years.  Since I started again, publishing numerous Clojure and ClojureScript tutorials on GitHub, the beating heart of Open Source, I have reacquired the motivation and creativity of better times.
Google, Facebook, Twitter and even the global phenomenon of start-ups would not exist without Open Source.  The building blocks necessary for creating innovation through their combination are Open Source and for some time now it has also been possible to exploit the oldest market in the world: agriculture. I'm taking up the challenge.  Like everyone, I too am indebted to Open Source.

Giacomo (Mimmo) Cosenza, founder of Sinapsi srl and SmartRM Inc, Open Source pioneer and continually in search of innovation, deals with software applied to hydroculture in urban areas.

Testimony of Roberto Galoppini

2013 was considered the year of Bitcoin, the new cryptocurrency. Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer communication protocol that provides a secure and decentralised system for the transfer of property rights. Each block in the chain of transactions is certified by network nodes which are paid for this activity. Known as "mining", this activity is financed by the limited and controlled production of new Bitcoins. To circumvent the system’s security it is necessary to invalidate the rules applied to each transaction, and this requires obtaining control of more than 50% of the network nodes.  Investing in Bitcoin is not without risk.  In December 2013, China banned bitcoins, on 28 February 2014 the main exchange (Mt Gox) declared bankruptcy and, more recently, the U.S. administration has expressed its willingness to fiscally regulate the cryptocurrency.  Each time the market has reacted negatively and then recovered, but it is certainly premature to express an opinion on the future of this means of payment. But a question is worth asking: why are innovation and Open Source inseparable in Bitcoin?
The protocols underlying internet, and Bitcoin is no exception, are based on “rough consensus and running code”, that is, on public discussion and implementation. If Bitcoin had been a private protocol it would have been impossible to verify collectively the effectiveness and an ecosystem would not have been developed which to date has already attracted 100 million dollars’ worth of investment by venture capital, and has already been able to cope with problems in software thanks to the timely mobilisation of the community of developers. The Bitcoin project is in fact developed on GitHub and distributed and discussed on SourceForge.
But if cryptocurrency is the first practical application of the protocol, it is not necessarily the one with the greatest potential for innovation.  Today, applications are being designed that intend to extend the principle of operation of this protocol for the transfer of ownership of other assets, such as the management of derivative instruments like ‘Contracts for Difference’. Developments are also being conceived that will enable the creation of "virtual companies" in which each stakeholder will participate through the purchase of "shares" or receive them in exchange for their contributions, thus achieving the business rules of the organisation ‘cabled’ into the code. It is the cooperative model underlying the Bitcoin community, and more generally the Open Source community, which transforms the very way in which the business is established and evolves.  Bitcoin could be  the platform on which businesses, customers and users will find a new way to exchange value, products and services.

Roberto Galoppini, Senior Director of Business Development at SourceForge, has over 20 years of experience in the IT sector and over the past 10 years has supported organisations and businesses in the design and implementation of their Open Source strategies. He is actively involved in several Open Source projects and organisations and sits on the boards of several international companies.

Testimony of Stefano Maffulli

With the support of nearly 2,000 developers in less than four years, more than 400 active developers per month, and employees from more than 80 companies, OpenStack has burned all growth records for a collaborative software development project. Never before has there been such a vast community of developers in such a short time. Along with development of the software, awareness has also grown of OpenStack as a solid platform on which to build new products to improve automation in data centres. Started as a project to manage IT infrastructure as a service (Infrastructure as a Service), automating the creation of virtual machines, storage and networks for an entire data centre, OpenStack is rapidly evolving towards a framework for managing automation at all levels. From deployment of the automation service itself (OpenStack which installs OpenStack, TripleO) to Hadoop on request, to relational (or non) databases as a service, and much more.
Among others, the Italian contributions to OpenStack are remarkable, given the size of the domestic IT sector.  The Italian group of OpenStack users is particularly  active and the group of co-nationals is clearly visible at OpenStack Summits throughout the world. The next will be held in Atlanta and Paris.

Stefano Maffulli, Community Manager of the OpenStack Foundation, the leading Open Source initiative in cloud computing, has always been a supporter of free/Open Source software. Previous activities include Community Manager of Funambol and Italian representative of the Free Software Foundation Europe.