Open source advocacy group Bioinformatics.org has launched a new program to expand its reach of partnerships into the commercial realm. The group has already attracted Apple Computer as the first member of what it is calling the Co-Lab program, which aims to foster collaboration between bioinformatics hardware and software vendors and open source developers.
Bioinformatics.org currently hosts more than 30 software projects on the SourceForge-based Open Lab project management system at its website. The aim of the Co-Lab program, according to Bioinformatics.org president and founder Jeff Bizarro, is to foster industry involvement, either by co-locating software projects at the Open Lab, or hosting them at vendor sites and sharing them with developers via the web.
Apple has agreed to make a dual G4 server available to members of Bioinformatics.org through the program, Bizarro said. An Apple official confirmed the company’s involvement in the program, but was unable to provide further details prior to press time.
Benefits for commercial members, according to Bizarro, include immediate access to more than 3,000 bioinformaticists worldwide who currently work on Open Lab projects. Software firms looking for researchers to “test drive” their systems before releasing them commercially and hardware vendors who want to ensure that bioinformatics projects hosted at the site will run on their platforms would gain from the program, he said.
The program is loosely modeled on the Open Source Development Lab (osdl.org), which has secured corporate support from 21 commercial entities, including IBM, NEC, Intel, Hitachi, Dell, and Fujitsu. The Co-Lab program would differ from the OSDL, however, in its focus on bioinformatics and the goal of executing applications as well as porting them.
In Apple’s case, Bizarro said, the company is very interested in having as many bioinformatics applications as possible ported to its OS X operating system. On the developer side, he said, access to additional servers and hardware platforms will be invaluable. Projects hosted at the site so far only run on Unix, so Bizarro hopes to see the project count grow along with new platforms.
Bizzaro noted that the organization is “not asking for a donation but for assistance in running a resource that would be of great benefit to both the bioinformatics community and the Co-Lab’s business.”