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Open Source at the
      BBC
          Michael Sparks
     BBC Research and Development
        michaels@rd.bbc.co.uk

   I work on scaling online delivery of BBC
 content to as wide an audience as possible
Presented at Open Source Forum Russia, April 2005
                                     BBC R&D
Open Source

         • The BBC...
              •     Is a creator of open source software

              •     Is a user of open source software

         • Why?
              •     Good business reasons

              •     Good public service reasons


©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/   BBC R&D   michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
Proprietary Systems
                                                                            For balance...


         • The BBC...
              •     Is a creator of proprietary systems

              •     Is a user of open proprietary systems

         • Why?
              •     Good business reasons

              •     Good public service reasons


©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/    BBC R&D    michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
Terminology


         • Free/Libre, Open Source Software
              •     Terms often used interchangeably

              •     BBC tends to use latter term, since it focusses on
                    approach, not politics




©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/   BBC R&D   michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
Why use Open Source?

         • Why does the BBC use Open Source
              •     Open source software is not special, per se

              •     Open Source software represents solutions

         • No specific policy for or against:
              •     Solutions, proprietary and open source are all
                    evaluated on their merits
                   •    However open source is itself often a extra merit


©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/   BBC R&D   michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
What Open Source Software
                     does the BBC use?
         • Lots, more than could be listed. A subset:
              •     Running the business
                   •    Network infrastructure - Apache, Perl

                   •    Desktop Applications - Open Office, Firefox

                   •    Desktops - Mac OS X

              •     Building the Business
                   •    Standards development

                        •    Video codecs, file formats, network systems, ...

©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/   BBC R&D   michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
The real question

         • Why would the BBC NOT use Open Source?
              •     Would you ask about proprietary?

              •     It would prevent the use of useful technologies:
                   •    It would isolate us from community developments

                   •    It would limit the BBC’s choices

                   •    It would mean, for example, no Apple based systems

              •     It is difficult to avoid open source software

©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/   BBC R&D   michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
The Real question (2)
         • Why would the BBC NOT use Open Source?
              •     ... or open source derived systems?

              •     We would not be able to use - the internet, email, the
                    web

              •     If would mean no Microsoft based systems:
                   •    Even Microsoft produce products containing or as open
                        source - “One of the great things about IronPython is it’s
                        open source”

              •     If you use the internet, you cannot avoid open source, even
                    if you tried.
©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/   BBC R&D   michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
BBC R&D Open Source

         • Projects available as open source:
              •     Kamaelia - Network streaming research platform

              •     Dirac - Wavelet based video codec

              •     AAF - Professional video/audio authoring and storage
                    format
              •     ... and others


©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/   BBC R&D   michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
Why release X as Open Source?

         • Variety of business reasons.
              •     A selection:
                   •    Not your core business, not a saleable product

                   •    Will be in development anyway.

                        •    No feedback is no loss, any feedback or patches back is a
                             benefit to the business

                   •    Standardisation development

                   •    Collaboration

                   •    Validation of theories and peer review

©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/   BBC R&D   michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
Open Source vs Open
                                  Standards
         • Open source and Open Standards are NOT the
               same thing.
              •    Open standards allow any interested party who is able to participate
                   to join the process

              •    Often hardware systems result in a paid membership to run the
                   standards body

         • Open Source allows any interested party to fork
               the software given a need.
              •    This may be because of a narrow minded developer/group choosing
                   to exclude a section of the possible community, through licemsing or
                   arrogance.
©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/   BBC R&D   michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
Open Source vs Open
                                  Standards


         • Good Open source based Open Standards...
              •     Have a good means of dealing with conflict

              •     Good examples:
                   •    Internet RFCs, and associated processes

                   •    Python PEPs, and associated processes




©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/   BBC R&D   michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
Benefits of Open Source

         • People who need problems solved work together
               to get them solved
         • Feedback on your solution
         • Suggestions of better approaches
         • Validation of approach
              •     It provides a lever to boost the brainpower of your
                    organisation


©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/   BBC R&D   michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
Experience
         • Real Benefits to BBC R&D projects:
              •     Dirac:
                   •    Community stepped forward to assist and direct
                        development

                   •    Performance boosts

              •     Kamaelia:
                   •    Validation of ideas

                        •    “This framework looks like it has a real chance of making a
                             complex problem simple”

                   •    Opened doors to collaboration with partners
©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/   BBC R&D   michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
Biggest Benefits
         • The biggest benefits the BBC gains from releasing
               in-house code as open source:
              •     We maximise the benefit to the BBC and the BBC’s
                    community of users from the investment the BBC makes in
                    R&D.

         • The biggest benefit the BBC gains from using
               open source software:
              •     We are using code developed by people with similar uses
                    to use, and who will therefore fix the biggest pain points
                    first.
©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/   BBC R&D   michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
Software Licensing
         • The BBC seeks to safeguard its investment in
               development.
         • Various options: (simplified)
              •     You only have the right to use

              •     You can do anything, as long as you allow others the
                    same with your code, and credit all authors

              •     You can do anything, so long as you credit authors

              •     You may do anything you like

©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/   BBC R&D   michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
Case Study: Kamaelia
                                                                            “камилия”
         • Scalable media distribution experimentation
               platform.
              •     Released December 2004
                   •    Licensing allows proprietary applications to use the toolkit,
                        but changes to the toolkit must be shared. Also includes
                        patent pooling style protection.

              •     Has allowed public discussion, with a variety of
                    benefits
                   •    System has been ported to mobile phones; validation of
                        approach; architectural improvements; cross linkage to other
                        projects.
©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/   BBC R&D   michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
Thank you!


         • Any questions?
              •     michael@rd.bbc.co.uk




©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/   BBC R&D   michael@rd.bbc.co.uk

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Open Source at the BBC

  • 1. Open Source at the BBC Michael Sparks BBC Research and Development michaels@rd.bbc.co.uk I work on scaling online delivery of BBC content to as wide an audience as possible Presented at Open Source Forum Russia, April 2005 BBC R&D
  • 2. Open Source • The BBC... • Is a creator of open source software • Is a user of open source software • Why? • Good business reasons • Good public service reasons ©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/ BBC R&D michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
  • 3. Proprietary Systems For balance... • The BBC... • Is a creator of proprietary systems • Is a user of open proprietary systems • Why? • Good business reasons • Good public service reasons ©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/ BBC R&D michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
  • 4. Terminology • Free/Libre, Open Source Software • Terms often used interchangeably • BBC tends to use latter term, since it focusses on approach, not politics ©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/ BBC R&D michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
  • 5. Why use Open Source? • Why does the BBC use Open Source • Open source software is not special, per se • Open Source software represents solutions • No specific policy for or against: • Solutions, proprietary and open source are all evaluated on their merits • However open source is itself often a extra merit ©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/ BBC R&D michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
  • 6. What Open Source Software does the BBC use? • Lots, more than could be listed. A subset: • Running the business • Network infrastructure - Apache, Perl • Desktop Applications - Open Office, Firefox • Desktops - Mac OS X • Building the Business • Standards development • Video codecs, file formats, network systems, ... ©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/ BBC R&D michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
  • 7. The real question • Why would the BBC NOT use Open Source? • Would you ask about proprietary? • It would prevent the use of useful technologies: • It would isolate us from community developments • It would limit the BBC’s choices • It would mean, for example, no Apple based systems • It is difficult to avoid open source software ©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/ BBC R&D michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
  • 8. The Real question (2) • Why would the BBC NOT use Open Source? • ... or open source derived systems? • We would not be able to use - the internet, email, the web • If would mean no Microsoft based systems: • Even Microsoft produce products containing or as open source - “One of the great things about IronPython is it’s open source” • If you use the internet, you cannot avoid open source, even if you tried. ©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/ BBC R&D michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
  • 9. BBC R&D Open Source • Projects available as open source: • Kamaelia - Network streaming research platform • Dirac - Wavelet based video codec • AAF - Professional video/audio authoring and storage format • ... and others ©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/ BBC R&D michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
  • 10. Why release X as Open Source? • Variety of business reasons. • A selection: • Not your core business, not a saleable product • Will be in development anyway. • No feedback is no loss, any feedback or patches back is a benefit to the business • Standardisation development • Collaboration • Validation of theories and peer review ©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/ BBC R&D michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
  • 11. Open Source vs Open Standards • Open source and Open Standards are NOT the same thing. • Open standards allow any interested party who is able to participate to join the process • Often hardware systems result in a paid membership to run the standards body • Open Source allows any interested party to fork the software given a need. • This may be because of a narrow minded developer/group choosing to exclude a section of the possible community, through licemsing or arrogance. ©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/ BBC R&D michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
  • 12. Open Source vs Open Standards • Good Open source based Open Standards... • Have a good means of dealing with conflict • Good examples: • Internet RFCs, and associated processes • Python PEPs, and associated processes ©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/ BBC R&D michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
  • 13. Benefits of Open Source • People who need problems solved work together to get them solved • Feedback on your solution • Suggestions of better approaches • Validation of approach • It provides a lever to boost the brainpower of your organisation ©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/ BBC R&D michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
  • 14. Experience • Real Benefits to BBC R&D projects: • Dirac: • Community stepped forward to assist and direct development • Performance boosts • Kamaelia: • Validation of ideas • “This framework looks like it has a real chance of making a complex problem simple” • Opened doors to collaboration with partners ©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/ BBC R&D michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
  • 15. Biggest Benefits • The biggest benefits the BBC gains from releasing in-house code as open source: • We maximise the benefit to the BBC and the BBC’s community of users from the investment the BBC makes in R&D. • The biggest benefit the BBC gains from using open source software: • We are using code developed by people with similar uses to use, and who will therefore fix the biggest pain points first. ©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/ BBC R&D michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
  • 16. Software Licensing • The BBC seeks to safeguard its investment in development. • Various options: (simplified) • You only have the right to use • You can do anything, as long as you allow others the same with your code, and credit all authors • You can do anything, so long as you credit authors • You may do anything you like ©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/ BBC R&D michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
  • 17. Case Study: Kamaelia “камилия” • Scalable media distribution experimentation platform. • Released December 2004 • Licensing allows proprietary applications to use the toolkit, but changes to the toolkit must be shared. Also includes patent pooling style protection. • Has allowed public discussion, with a variety of benefits • System has been ported to mobile phones; validation of approach; architectural improvements; cross linkage to other projects. ©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/ BBC R&D michael@rd.bbc.co.uk
  • 18. Thank you! • Any questions? • michael@rd.bbc.co.uk ©2005 BBC. Part of the Kamaelia project, http://kamaelia.sourceforge.net/ BBC R&D michael@rd.bbc.co.uk