Personal Blog of Shaun Walker



By Shaun Walker on 8/21/2015

( Excerpt from Professional DNN7 Open Source.NET CMS Platform by WROX Press )

In August 2003, I came to an agreement with Microsoft regarding a sponsorship proposal for the DotNetNuke project. In a nutshell, Microsoft wanted DotNetNuke to be enhanced in a number of key areas with the intent being to use the open source project as a means of demonstrating the strengths of the ASP.NET platform. Because these enhancements were completely congruent with the future goals of the project, there was little negative consequence from a technical perspective. In return for implementing the enhancements, Microsoft would provide a number of sponsorship benefits to the project including web hosting for the www.dotnetnuke.com website, weekly meetings with an ASP.NET Team representative (Rob Howard), continued promotion via the www.asp.net website, and more direct access to Microsoft resources for mentoring and guidance. It took five months for this sponsorship proposal to come together, which demonstrates the patience and perseverance required to collaborate with such an influential partner as Microsoft. Nonetheless, this was potentially a one-time offer, and at such a critical stage in the project evolution it seemed too important to ignore.

An interesting perception that most people have in the IT industry is that Microsoft is morally against the entire open source phenomenon. In my opinion, this is far from the truth - the reality is so much more simplistic. Like any other business that is trying to enhance its market position, Microsoft is merely concerned about competition. This is nothing new. In the past, Microsoft faced competitive challenges from many sources - companies, individuals, and governments. However, the environment at the time made it much more emotional and newsworthy to suggest that Microsoft was pitted against a grassroots community movement rather than a business or legal concern. And it took some time and effort for Microsoft to adapt to the changing landscape, but in recent years Microsoft has now embraced open source to remain competitive.

When it comes to DotNetNuke, many people probably questioned why Microsoft would be interested in assisting an open source project where it receives no direct benefit. And it may be perplexing why Microsoft would sponsor a product that competes to some degree with several of its own commercial applications. But you do not have to look much further than the obvious indirect benefits to see why this relationship has tremendous value. First and foremost, the DotNetNuke application was only designed for use on the Microsoft platform. This meant that in order to use DotNetNuke, you needed to have valid licenses for a number of Microsoft infrastructure components (Windows operating system, database server, and so on). So this provided the financial value. In addition, DotNetNuke promoted the benefits of the .NET Framework and encouraged developers to migrate to Microsoft's development platform. This provides the educational value. Finally, it cultivated an active and passionate community - a network of loyal supporters who were motivated to leverage and promote Microsoft technology on an international scale. This provided the marketing value.

Next: Enhancements

Shaun Walker has 25+ years professional experience in architecting and implementing enterprise software solutions for private and public organizations. Shaun is the original creator of Oqtane and DotNetNuke, web application frameworks which have cultivated the largest and most successful Open Source community projects native to the Microsoft platform. He was one of the original founders of DNN Corp, a commercial software company providing products, services, and technical support for DotNetNuke, which raised 3 rounds of venture capital from top tier Silicon Valley investors. Based on his significant community contributions he has been recognized as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) as well as an ASPInsider for over 10 consecutive years. He was recognized by Business In Vancouver as a leading entrepreneur in their Forty Under 40 business awards, was a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Outercurve Foundation, and is currently the Chair of the Project Committee for Microsoft's .NET Foundation. Shaun is currently a Technical Director and Enterprise Guildmaster at Cognizant Softvision.