Ah, To Be a Duck Among the Penguins
Ah, To Be a Duck Among the Penguins
By: Maureen O'Gara
Jan. 23, 2004 12:00 AM
Ex-Microsoft senior executive Douglas Levin has started a company named Black Duck Software in memory of a childhood pet. He says the company is as different as, well, a black duck in a colony of penguins. He says that he has no competition and that Black Duck, in a timely development, has automated software IP risk management. He also says that the concept came to him before the SCO Group voiced its claims.
The basic idea is to overcome the fear of using open source.
Black Duck has been flying under the radar and only made its presence known this week. The software Black Duck has - called Black Duck Enterprise Edition - is bound for a shakedown cruise at a couple of beta sites and Levin is hoping to put it on the market by around Easter time. There will be an annual subscription fee of $995 plus $195 per seat.
The software is meant to assist corporations that develop software for internal and commercial use and their lawyers to identify and validate proprietary software, open source software and combinations of the two. It's supposed recognize any open source in proprietary code and recognize and adhere to specific license restrictions.
Pointing out that there are now some 60 open source licenses in use, a veritable management nightmare, Black Duck says it'll prevent license violations. Its knowledge base will be continually updated to reflect new open source licenses as well as commonly used proprietary ones and customers will get live updates.
The knowledge base is supposed to be wise to ambiguities, dependencies, combinability and incompatibilities as well as terms and conditions.
The start-up claims that its technology scours the Internet for open source projects and transforms that code including code trees, snippets, modules, libraries and applications into a rendering that can automatically be compared against the code in use by a developer. Any match and license information pops up.
Levin claims, for instance, that Black Duck has all of SourceForge under control.
Black Duck's software is described as being geared towards multifunctional teams in development organizations and is supposed to integrate into the development cycle at the concept stage and offers support through code review, publishing, distribution and audits.
It integrates with the dominant open source version control system CVS and the Eclipse platform. It will also reportedly integrate with corporate directory services.
Black Duck thinks its software is particularly handy in outsourcing situations. It thinks that its stuff will help people make informed business and technical decisions about which software to use and the economic and licensing consequences of those decisions. It also thinks its stuff will facilitate communication between technical teams, attorneys, product managers and business affairs folk and help them all track the progress of a project.
The thing generates real-time analyses and printed reports in a spreadsheet with graphics that can be exported to other BI and data analysis systems.
Black Duck got started on money from private investors, but Levin suggests that in going out for a round the start-up has attracted the interest of "strategic investors," the OEMs. It wangled a quote out of HP for its press release.
Levin was at Microsoft from 1987 to 1997 and wound up heading worldwide corporate licensing there. He then consulted for such as Lotus and Oracle, became CEO of X-Collaboration Software Corporation, which Progress Software acquired in 2000, and then CEO of MessageMachines, which was acquired by NMS Communications in 2002.
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