What happens when you bring together open source projects with businesses and non-profits? A whole lotta awesome, that’s what. One man is making it his mission to do just that. Meet Mark Wyatt of Ardent Technologies. As a former coder, turned software architect, turned executive, Mark has spent the last 20 years bridging the gap between t-shirts and suits (and not in the Don Johnson way). He’s one of the rare people that can translate geekspeak to execspeak and vice versa.
A huge open source advocate, Mark has also been very successful in bringing open source solutions to businesses. “You come across businesses with problems they don’t know how to fix,” he tells me. And many times they don’t realize there is an open source solution available to them.
To help solve this problem, Mark started a venture called Open Source Ohio. Their mission is “to connect the most talented developers in the area with software projects that solve business problems and meet business needs.” It’s focused on the local level, in the southwest Ohio region. Keeping open source alive and well is important to Mark, but equally important is retaining local talent and enabling local businesses to thrive.
The program is beneficial for all involved. Businesses get solutions they need, and at virtually no cost. Open source developers that are students or recent grads get valuable experience and networking opportunities, and more experienced devs can help mentor and give back to the open source community while helping a company solve its problems. Everybody wins.
Although still in its infancy, Mark and his team of open source developers are currently working on 11 projects for local companies and non-profits. The challenges he faces are not only finding developers with free time to work on projects, but also qualifying potential businesses that can use help and convincing them that open source solutions are viable options. Apparently there are still companies out there that have not yet embraced open source.
They are currently forming their Advisory Board, and will appoint four committees to be in charge of marketing/communications, recruiting developers, managing projects and finding new ones, and managing partnerships with service providers.
I am thrilled to see this kind of push for open source in the business world. If you want to reach out to Mark and talk about what he’s doing, or maybe start something like this in your own region, I encourage you to contact him at info.at.opensourceohio.net. You can also read more about what Mark and his team are doing at http://opensourceohio.net.