Note: I'm posting this on my personal blog, which as always is a reflection of my own thoughts and in no way represent any official policy from my employer (whoever that may be).
Now that we former Sun employees (for the most part) are now part of a larger company, there have been some questions about how much of the trend Sun had made towards open development will continue (particularly where Solaris/OpenSolaris is concerned.)
(I want to separate the concern of Open Source -- where source code is made available for products after they are released -- from Open Development -- where the product is developed in the open.)
Many of us who were part of that acquisition are wondering the same things. Officially, the word is "no changes in what we're doing", but unofficially there's an atmosphere that our new employer places a greater emphasis on commercial profitability and a lesser emphasis on things like "including the community."
Speaking abstractly, there are risks to any open development effort, particularly when the effort is intended to be supportive of a commercial endeavor. The risks range from enabling competitors with early information, to forestalling customer purchases of bits today as customers wait for the new feature that's being developed in the open, to simply diluting the impact that "surprise" delivery of a new product or feature can make.
Certainly there seems to be some evidence that Oracle may have a greater concern about the costs and risks associated with "early disclosure" than Sun did. No matter how passionately one may believe in Open Development, nobody can deny that there are real costs and risks associated with open development.
So the challenge for Oracle is to figure out what the balance is that makes commercial sense.
Ultimately profit is the primary responsibility of any publicly traded company.
The challenge for the community is to figure how to provide commercial justification to Oracle for the open development that the community likes to see.
If you want to retain truly Open Development (which includes public posting of webrevs for stuff developed internally, open ARC reviews, and public design discussions on mailing lists and similar fora) of Solaris and OpenSolaris, this is call out to you.
Have you or your company made a significant Sun purchase? Has open development (as opposed to open source) influenced your decision? How and why? Will open development influence future purchasing decisions? If you can, put a number to the value of open development, and provide that information to your sales reps or post it publicly.
The decision makers need to see value in the practice of open development if they're going to continue to support it.
Again, I'm only talking about open development, not about open source.
As an aside, I don't think statements coming from community contributors without the support of purchasing dollars are likely to carry much weight with Oracle decision makers. I believe that if you look at the contributions from the community-at-large in OpenSolaris, you'll find that the meaningful contributions have been fairly small and generally of little commercial interest, and have always required additional engineering expense from Sun. So "leveraging" the community for development has not, IMO, been a gamble that has yielded dividends -- at least not from the perspective of either Sun or Oracle.