Last week, at the O'Reilly Open Source Conference (OSCON), held in Portland, Oregon, Phipps gave a talk about how an open source project can survive after it loses corporate support. In addition to working with OpenAM, Phipps is also on the governing board for OpenSolaris, another open source software package inherited by Oracle whose future remains uncertain.
In the case of OpenSolaris, Phipps noted that there are portions of the operating systems that are not open source, and so assuming control of the software would be difficult for the OpenSolaris community, or another company. Another roadblock to OpenSolaris' survival outside of Oracle is that most of the engineers who worked on OpenSolaris were Sun Microsystems employees, and now are Oracle employees. Unless Oracle allows them to continue contributing to the code base, it is doubtful that enough outside expertise exists to keep maintaining and improving the OS.
In the case of OpenSSO, ForgeRock has hired a significant number of ex-Sun engineers who are familiar with the product. Most did not develop the software itself, but rather worked as customer support specialists who were highly knowledgeable with the code base, Phipps said.