The Eclipse Foundation for open source tools held its technical conference, EclipseCon 2005, in Burlingame, Calif., the week of Feb. 28. Stressing its momentum, the organization touted participation frrm vendors such as BEA Systems, Borland Socqftware, Computer Associates International, and Sybase. Mike Milinkovich, a former Oracle vice president of technical services, became the first executive director of the independent foundation when Eclipse was spun out of IBM last year. InfoWorld Editor at Large Paul Krill discussed Eclipse goings-on and impacts with Milinkovich.
InfoWorld: To what does Eclipse attribute the 50 million-plus downloads of your technology, and are Eclipse users primarily corporate developers, technologists, researchers, or representatives from different software and technology companies? I see a lot of people here from technology vendors.
Milinkovich: The No. 1 reason why there’s been 50 million downloads is because the software is really good. I just came from [visiting] Borland and one of the things that they said that really tipped the balance and made them want to become a strategic developer at Eclipse was the simple fact that the software is really good. The architecture is really good. I think that’s a real testament to the people that have been building Eclipse since Day 1. There’s no way we would be getting the volume of interest, participation and downloads if it wasn’t for the fact that what Eclipse is bringing is great technology.
Now, in terms of who’s downloading that, and there’s two parts to that question; there’s who’s downloading it, and then you also made a comment about the people that are at the show. I don’t necessarily think that the people that are at the show are a reflection of the entire Eclipse ecosystem. In terms of who’s downloading it, for us to hit 50 million download requests, clearly there has to be a lot of use of Eclipse in enterprise development.
I was giving a keynote two weeks ago in Boston and I asked the crowd, “Who here is using Eclipse? And 75 percent of the crowd put their hands up. And then I said, “Who is using Eclipse in enterprise IT development?” And almost exactly the same number put their hand up. So we are absolutely certain that it’s got a great deal of usage in enterprise IT.
Now that said, this conference is not necessarily tailored for the enterprise IT user of Eclipse. It is primarily tailored for our committers and our members and for the enterprise -- people from the enterprise IT world who want a really deep-dive in the technology. So it’s not necessarily reflective of the entire population.
InfoWorld: How does Eclipse assert independence from IBM, and what kind of influence does IBM still have over the Eclipse organization?
Milinkovich: We are independent. There’s no assertion required.
InfoWorld: What kind of messages do you have for holdouts Sun and Microsoft?
Milinkovich: It’s really simple. The door is open, and if they would like to come and participate at Eclipse, we’d be thrilled to have them.
InfoWorld: Why do you think they’ve been holding out?
Milinkovich: They have their own business reasons. Sun is committed to their NetBeans platform. Microsoft is still trying to figure out what its response to open source in general should be. So there are business restraints in play that they have to [consider]. But you know, they will join when it makes sense for them, and that’s fine.