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NASA To Host Open Source Summit

The agency plans to bring experts together March 29-30 to discuss open source policy and how NASA can better support the community.

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NASA will continue its support of the open source community by hosting its first-ever summit around the technology.

The agency's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif. will be the location for the two-day Open Source Summit 2011, March 29-30, during which NASA expects to host engineers, policy makers, and members of the open source community to discuss how the agency can bolster its participation and make more contributions to the sector.

NASA has several key goals for the meeting, which include a discussion of the challenges "within the existing open source policy framework and [to] propose modifications to facilitate NASA's development, release, and use of software," according to the agency.

The agency also hopes to develop a formal way to support collaboration with the public for its development of open source technology and explore its options to release and develop software under different open source licenses, it said.

Other goals include weighing the opportunity for NASA to participate in open source software governance bodies and learning about best practices used by private organizations and other federal agencies to participate in the open source community.

NASA has lined up a host of speakers for the two-day summit from both open source companies and vendors with strong ties to it, including Mozilla Labs, IBM, and Red Hat. The agenda will include sessions on licensing and government restrictions, as well as governance and risk assessments, according to NASA.

The federal government has been embracing open source technology as a cost-effective and flexible way to deploy Web sites and other IT systems for some time. In April 2010, the White House made its first contributions to the community by donating code to the Drupal project, an open source content management system on which is built. It followed that up with the release of even more software to Drupal in February.

NASA has been one of the agencies at the forefront of the government's open source push. The space agency contributed core technology for its cloud computing platform, Nebula, to OpenStack, an open source cloud computing initiative launched last year.

Then in January, a NASA-led project won the full support of the Apache Software Foundation to bolster development efforts around Java-based middleware called Object Oriented Data Technology (OODT), originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. OODT uses metadata to allow end users to simultaneously leverage disparate and geographically dispersed computing and data resources, allowing for cross-platform collaboration.

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