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OpenSource Thought Leader and CollabNet Founder Brian Behlendorf (Part 3)

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 9th 2008

SM: Was Apache a non-profit from 1995 to 1998?

BB: Apache certainly grew and grew fast. In 1998, in part because of the interest and involvement from major players like IBM, Sun, and Oracle, we realized that we needed to form and actual entity. Otherwise someone could have found a patent issue and come and taken our homes away! We created the Apache Software Foundation and I served as President for three years and I was on the board for another four years after that. Today I have largely handed things off but do stay involved on the periphery.

It is a non-profit, membership based organization. It has a couple of hundred members and a couple thousand contributors. Obviously there are millions who have used the software.

SM: Are they corporate members?

BB: The members are individuals. It is very much like a guild. People are invited to be members based on having established a history of contributions to different projects. I believe there are about 50 different projects within the organization right now.

SM: Is there any financial support?

BB: There is today. Just the last year they established a corporate sponsorship program. There has been no full time staff. Some money was spent here and there for some systems, but there is a very independent minded streak in the organization. Hardware and bandwidth ends up being donated by different groups. For example, at Oregon State University there is a big data center for OpenSource projects and Apache is one of the big residents there. There is no full time staff compared to what a lot of non-profits have.

SM: And this all happened while you were still full time at Organic?

BB: Yes and the lines between the two are really blurry. Organic benefited tremendously from the attention Apache was getting and were able to make a case to new customers that they could really build interesting projects because they had people who contributed to the Apache community and were experts at all the various web technologies.

SM: Was Apache the only OpenSource project during that timeframe?

BB: It emerged at the same time as Linux. In 1998 Netscape released the code to Mozilla. I actually joined their foundation as a board member in 2002 and I am still on the board there. What was clear was that Apache was the poster child for a lot of the efforts which were going on. It was perhaps the most public, high profile OpenSource project because we had numbers. The site NetCraft did a monthly survey of every website that was up and part of that survey was to ask the servers what they were running. Because of NetCraft we know Apache has powered more than 65% of all servers from 1996 onward. You can still go and look at that chart today. You will see Microsoft coming up and going down. You will see Netscape going way down to zero. It provided the numbers that allowed Apache to become a business case which in turn allowed a lot of credible businesses to use Apache for their servers.

This segment is part 3 in the series : OpenSource Thought Leader and CollabNet Founder Brian Behlendorf
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Thanks for this interview, Sramana. It is just super to know about how Apache has evolved.

regards,
Samir

Sam Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at 10:59 AM PT