Open Source Business Alliance

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Open Source Business Alliance
Focus Open Source Matters in Germany and Europe

The Open Source Business Alliance is a German non-profit forming Europe's biggest network of companies and organizations developing, building and using open source software.[1]

"The aim of the OSB Alliance is to improve the success of open source software and other forms of open collaboration. The OSB Alliance achieves its objectives, through the dissemination of information, the creation of positive conditions for producers and users, as well as through the active networking of manufacturers, customers and service providers. Interoperability between different open source systems and proprietary software in particular plays an important role."


Open Source Business Alliance Logo

The Open Source Business Alliance e.V. was founded in July 2011 in Stuttgart. The two founding associations, Linux Solutions Group e.V. (Lisog) and the LIVE Linux-Verband e.V., took the official decision at their annual general meetings on the 20th and 21 July 2011 to combine their activities with immediate effect.[2][3]

The merger aimed to create a unified lobby group for the German open-source movement.[4]

In 2014, a further attempted consolidation of the German open-source movement failed. The OSB Alliance and the Open Source Business Foundation (OSBF) first announced their intention to merge the two associations to form a single large advocacy group on the 18th of November 2013. After almost a year of negotiations which only achieved an agreement, the merger collapsed on the 15th of October 2014.[5]


General goals[edit]

The alliance's main aims are:[6]

  • Promote Linux and open source-based solutions and their use in businesses and institutions, and to support the providers of open-source software and services
  • Help companies with developing an open source based business strategy due to the general advantages and benefits of open-source software. (cf. Business models for open-source software).
  • Provide a communication platform to open source-focused IT providers and users, in order to encourage and promote improvements in open source
  • Continuous contact with politics and public administration bodies, along with work to raise awareness of open source in business and among the public

Central objectives of the alliance are:[7]

  • The use of open standards with manufacturer-independent, fully published, unlimited specifications, available for free or for a nominal fee
  • The abolition of software patents, or alternatively, irrevocable free use of existing software patents
  • Inviolability of copyright
  • Action by publicly financed bodies to enable participation, i.e. open data, open innovation and open access
  • Open-minds economy through public forms of cooperation in politics and business (also o!conomy)
  • Net neutrality, i.e. equal treatment of all data flows online

Task groups[edit]

  • EVB-IT: They are supplementary conditions of contracts regarding the procurement of IT services. The templates for call for bids, derived from these supplementary conditions, require a reformulation because they discriminate against businesses that offer free and open-source software-based solutions.
  • The Open Thin Client Alliance works on some RDP-based solution for an operating system independent Thin-client infrastructure (but the Remote Desktop Protocol is proprietary...)
  • The initiative Deutsche Wolke wants to create solution stacks for cloud computing composed entirely of free and open-source software for "Infrastructure as a service" (IaaS) and also for "Software as a service" (SaaS), which shall be exclusively provided by data centers in Germany.
  • The fourth project wants to improve inter-operatability between the ODF and the OOXML file formats.


The current board of Open Source Business Alliance e.V. consists of 12 members:[8]

  • Peter Ganten, Univention GmbH (Chairman)
  • Holger Dyroff, ownCloud GmbH (Vice Chairman)
  • Thomas Uhl, Empalis Systems GmbH (Vice. Chairman)
  • Uwe Meyer-Gundelach, IBM Deutschland GmbH (Financial Director)
  • Prof. Dr. Helmut Krcmar, Technische Universität München
  • Henriette Baumann, integratio GmbH
  • Karl-Eugen Binder
  • Niels Mache, struktur AG
  • Jens Ziemann, Red Hat
  • Elmar Geese
  • Rico Barth, Cape IT GmbH
  • R. Haidl, SUSE Linux GmbH

Honorary Chairman

  • Dr. Karl-Heinz Strassemeyer, formerly IBM Deutschland Entwicklung

Working groups and projects[edit]

Alongside the activities of the executive board, the OSB Alliance works towards its aims using working groups that cover a wide range of issues. There are currently (as of January 2015) the following working groups:[9]

The Working Group Office Interoperability aims to improve the compatibility of the open-source solutions LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice with Microsoft’s proprietary Office suite, in order to promote the use of open-source office solutions critical for business. The working group’s first project was the continued development of the OOXML filter in LibreOffice. The specification “Layout-getreue Darstellung von OOXML-Dokumenten in Open Source Office Applikationen” [10] (“Layout-faithful depiction of OOXML documents in open-source office applications”) was developed in 2011 by SUSE and Laredo.[11][12][13][14] The specification and the subsequent patches are included in the Apache Software License 2.0 and has been included in LibreOffice since version 4.0.

The Working Group Cloud Computing focuses on all aspects of cloud technology. One of its central initiatives is the “Deutsche Wolke” (“German Cloud”) project.[15] Participants in the project are mostly small and medium-sized businesses based in Germany. The aim is to create a cloud solution adapted to German businesses, which offers security, transparency and reliability. The project won third prize in the platform services category at the “Hosting & Service Provider Summit 2014″, held in Frankfurt am Main on the 8th and 9th of May.[16]

The Working Group Public Affairs formulates the positions of the OSB Alliance towards the world of politics and public administration.[17][18][19] The group maintains direct and regular contact with politicians, acts as a point of contact for all questions from the public sector and cooperates in European fora. In November 2013, the working group published a brochure on PRISM and its consequences, with tips for countermeasures.[20][21] Most recently on the 21st of October 2014, the group held an open IT conference with councillors of the Green Party in Hamburg.[22][23]

The Working Group Events discusses and decides which events the association attends and how its attendance should be arranged. Since 2012, the Working Group Events has organised the OSB Alliance’s Open Source Day,[24] held every year in Autumn. In addition, one of its main focuses is coordinating the appearance of the OSB Alliance at CeBIT,[25] as well as at other events with relevant topics, such as the OPEN-IT SUMMIT [26][27][28] on the 22nd and 23rd of May 2013 in Berlin or the OPEN!2015 in Stuttgart, alongside a variety of other event formats which the OSB Alliance attends as either a partner or sponsor.

The aim of the Working Group Education is the modern use of digital and interactive teaching and learning material in schools and digital education platforms based on open technologies and standards. In November 2013, the group presented a 30-page document entitled “Digital media, educational platforms and IT infrastructure in schools based on open systems and standards”.[29][30] The goal is to create an open “education cloud”, which is centrally provided but configured locally.

The Working Group Marketing is a communications platform for marketing executives working at the OSB Alliance’s member businesses, which are mostly young and heavily focused on technology. The group organises the “Open Source Marketing Exchange” (OSMEx) series of events for training marketing specialists at open-source companies. Furthermore, the group also awards the OSBAR,[31][32] the OSB Alliance’s prize for innovation, which aims to support particularly young businesses and business founders.


  1. ^ About the OSB Alliance
  2. ^ Computerwoche: The raise of the OSB Alliance
  3. ^ Linux-Magazin: LiSOG and Live merged
  4. ^ Pro-Linux: LiSoG and Live merged
  5. ^ No merge between OSB Alliance and OSBF
  6. ^ OSB Alliance: About us
  7. ^ OSB Alliance: The guidelines of the OSB Alliance
  8. ^ Board OSB Alliance
  9. ^ Working groups OSB Alliance
  10. ^ OXXML-project Working group Office Interoperability
  11. ^ SUSE Commercial-libreoffice-support
  12. ^ Lanedo project with the OSB Alliance
  13. ^ Report Linux Magazin about OXXML (1)
  14. ^ Report Linux Magazin about OXXML (2)
  15. ^ Initiative "Deutsche Wolke"
  16. ^ Press release Vogel-IT
  17. ^ Report Linux-Magazin about the letter to the city of Freiburg (1)
  18. ^ Report Linux-Magazin about the letter to the city of Freiburg (2)
  19. ^ Report Linux-MAgazin: Statement to the coalition agreement
  20. ^ OSB Alliance about PRISM
  21. ^ Report Linux-Magazin: About Prism
  22. ^ Open Source Policy for the public sector
  23. ^ Report Linux Magazin: Open IT Summit in Hamburg
  24. ^ Linux Magazin: Open Source Day 2012
  25. ^ Linux Magazin: OSB Alliance@CeBIT 2014
  26. ^ Linux Magazin: OPEN-IT SUMMIT
  27. ^ Official Webpage OPEN-IT SUMMIT
  28. ^ Heise about the OPEN-IT SUMMIT
  29. ^ Working Group Education Whitepaper "Digital Media, Educational Platforms and IT infrastructure in schools based on open systems and standards"
  30. ^ Pro-Linux: About the whitepaper of the Working Group Education/OSB Alliance
  31. ^ Linux-Magazin: About OSBAR
  32. ^ Admin-Magazin: About OSBAR

External links[edit]