Whether Close, Shared or Open Source, It is Still All About People

by Todd Ogasawara

Microsoft Open Source Lab RoomI spent the past week attending the semi-regular Microsoft MVP Global Summit in Seattle and Redmond Washington. What's an MVP? Microsoft describes MVPs like this: Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) are exceptional technical community leaders from around the world who are awarded for voluntarily sharing their high quality, real world expertise in offline and online technical communities. My particular community involvement focuses on the Windows Mobile Smartphone and Pocket PC products. The knowledge and passion of anyone deeply involved with any knowledge area becomes quickly apparent and appreciated during a discussion of the subject. I have often said to my fellow MVPs that the most valuable take-away for me from MVP Summits is speaking with and learning from the other MVPs.

We naturally associate many Open Source projects with passionate and knowledgeable communities. But, there are many other kinds of communities: Some more formalized than others. On Thursday (March 15), I had the opportunity to drop by the Microsoft Open Source Lab and meet some of the people blogging on the Microsoft Port 25 site for the first time: Anandeep, Jamie, and Sam (Ramji - Director of the lab) were there and took a break from their busy schedules to speak with me about Microsoft and their work to interoperate with the Open Source products and the people involved in those projects. I had the chance to have a long conversation with Kishi and Chris (Tavers, an independent consultant and software developer, who wrote the PostgreSQL on Windows how-to paper I blogged about recently) earlier on Monday. I also ran into Sara Ford (Influencing the Microsoft culture one open source presentation at a time) long enough to say hello. A quick peek into one of the Lab's server rooms and being greeted by the Linux penguin trio provided one of the more amusing moments. And, no, this is not some gigantic glass walled server room with an unearthly glow. It probably looks like a lot of the small-ish servers rooms many of you have built and installed over the years.

My take away from the series of brief afternoon meetings at the Microsoft Open Source Lab is that these are people who are knowledgeable, engaged, and passionate about their work of somehow bridging the worlds of Microsoft products and Open Source products to create interoperable productive software eco-systems. And, of course, I am aware of the whole Microsoft-Novell/SUSE-Linux issue, what CEO Steve Ballmer said, and various other heated and confusing issues. But, quite frankly, I doubt if a little ol' nobody like me was going to resolve those issues in 90 minutes. However, I was able to have a good old fashioned handshake and conversation to learn more about the Lab group as thinkers and human beings. And, that seemed like a good way to start things off for me. As with my interaction with other MVPs at the MVP Summit this week, I found a lot of value in my first time meetings with the various people at the Microsoft Open Source Lab. As with nearly everything else in the world, it really is all about people.

You can find more detailed information about the Microsoft Open Source Lab in a two part blog written about a year ago found at...

A Look Inside Microsoft's Open Source Software Lab (Part 1)

A Look Inside Microsoft's Open Source Software Lab (Part 2)