This post is the second in a series of blog post that will discuss Ozone evolution from a widget framework to a software as a service platform. The goal is to generate discussion among the Ozone community to discuss challenges and possible solutions.
The Ozone Widget Framework (OWF) had a significant and growing presence across the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community by 2010. Initially this was done via the GOSS Board (Government Open Source Software), an inter-agency consortium comprised of government stakeholders who met to discuss & decide on the path of Ozone. Ultimately, it culminated in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 that mandated that Ozone be released as Fully Open Source Software (FOSS).
However, despite being open source, the community has not matured into a robust self-sustaining open source project. Development is almost entirely performed by one government contractor team, with a few contributions from other government contractors, and little to no contributions from non-government sources. Changing budget constraints and requirements has left no room for marketing or outreach to grow beyond Ozone’s traditional government use cases.
OWF was used in a wide variety of scenarios, from all-in-one packages with widgets for tactical deployments to enterprise IT services with highly dynamic rosters of widgets that users could pick and choose on the fly. Frequent requests included support for mobility, multiple monitors, disconnected/intermittent/latency tolerance, and others. Due to its monolithic nature, OWF had to serve all scenarios from a single product package with one user interface. This “jack of all trades, master of none” was unsustainable and had begun to receive negative user feedback perpetuated by known performance issues.
In 2013, Ozone reached its technological limits and required a significant update to better meet evolving mission requirements. IC ITE needed a centralized software-as-a-service framework for running web applications and the data sharing communications between them entirely within the browser. This resulted in the creation of the Ozone Platform (OZP), which powers the IC AppsMall. OZP is currently running live in production on IC ITE with over 200 apps in it store and over 10,000 unique users.
OZP modularizes Ozone, allowing each scenario to swap components in or out for their needs. To date, the predominant contributor to OZP has been the government-funded contractor team, which has been focused on AppsMall and IC ITE priorities. While OZP has re-architected Ozone in a modular fashion, the feature set and capabilities currently meets AppsMall’s needs and not the additional needs for enterprise users, tactical users, and the many previously supported scenarios have not been prioritized in the initial release of OZP.
For the past four years the community has been at risk of fragmenting. The risk was magnified when the OSGi development work on OWF 8 was stopped and deprecated. Every organization that is dependent on Ozone must make a cost-benefit decision for their programs between participation in the Ozone Community, forking Ozone and developing their own in-house solution, or abandoning Ozone altogether. Most members of the Ozone community agree that collectively their value is much higher when everyone is on the same baseline using a similar product. While the value of a united community using one product isn’t disputed, participation in the community requires overhead and outward focus that most organizations are challenged to find resources and expertise to support. Without a strong plan for developing a community and strong leadership to execute the plan, the long-term bias will be toward in-house solutions or abandonment of Ozone in order to meet short-term requirements.
The next blog post on this topic intends to offer solutions for strong centralized leadership that will strengthen the Ozone community while beginning to develop and clear migration path from the Ozone Widget Framework to the Ozone Platform.
Follow the conversation on the ozone-development Google Groups