Today, the OpenSEA Alliance launched, with the objective of developing a cross-platform open source 802.1X supplicant. I was fortunate enough to be part of the initial group, both as an individual and representing one of the founding companies.
Any time you get multiple companies together, it can be challenging coming to consensus. We were helped immensely by Cliff Schmidt from the Apache foundation, and were lucky to be able to draw extensively on his expertise.
One of the few thorny issues that was outside of Cliff’s immediate expertise in law was deciding on a name. Naturally, he helped assist the group in selecting a name that was not already in use and could be legally protected, but we still had to come up with a name within those broad criteria. “OpenSEA” was my suggestion, originally proposed to come up with a middle ground between a name that was specifically tied to 802.1X and a more general name. Officially, “SEA” stands for “Secure Edge Access,” but unofficially, we’re using the “open sea” phrase to indicate that changes at the network edge will have profound effects on the way networks are built and managed. As a fun point, we get the ability to give nautical-themed code names to our projects.
Starting the organization was quite educational, and I’m glad I participated. In addition to getting agreement on how to structure the organization, there’s a lot of start-up work to do to incorporate, get a bank account, and so on. At our first meeting last week, I was elected to the board of directors for a two-year term, ending in 2009. I’m concurrently serving a one-year term as corporate secretary.
So, the easy work is done, and the organization is running. The challenge now is to make it successful. Right now, the group depends on volunteer labor. As part of the process of starting OpenSEA, I learned from a colleague that the Wi-Fi Alliance started in much the same way, but it has now become successful enough that it has a professional staff. While OpenSEA probably will not be as well-known as Wi-Fi, it can certainly become successful enough to outgrow volunteers.