BUDAPEST: THE APACHE OPEN-SOURCE COMMUNITY gathered at its annual conference in Europe last week to collaborate on new projects, including one called Unomi that looks to create a privacy-aware web tracking standard.
Speaking during a brief keynote at the ApacheCon: Core Europe conference, Bertrand Delacretaz, principal scientist at Adobe Research and also the current director of the Apache Software Foundation, reiterated that the organisation is not a vendor but more a collection of like-minded developers who create free software tools to fill perceived needs.
"We just provide a space for development to happen and the projects come along and do some good. We are sometimes dubbed the Switzerland of open source," Delacretaz said.
While the Apache conference has been running for some years, this year it has been split into two, with the Apache: Big Data Europe conference immediately preceding the general Apache community event.
The Apache Foundation oversees a lot of open-source projects, with about 167 currently active and covering a broad range of areas from big data to databases, cloud management to the venerable Apache HTTP Server, the most widely used web server platform in the world.
Unlike other open-source software foundations, Apache does not have a professional board managing it, and gets by on a relatively modest budget of around $1m, which equates to about $5,000 per year for each project it oversees, according to Delacretaz (pictured below).
"Some people say we should have a professional board, but we want to keep things simple, and this way we don't have to be always hunting for corporate sponsors. The plan is that we can keep on doing this for the next 50 years," he said.
One project newly accepted into incubation at Apache is Unomi, which sets out to create a standard way for collecting and tracking user identities on websites, but in a way that addresses user security and privacy concerns.
The problem Unomi seeks to address is a lack of standards for profiles, tracking or personalisation, according to Elie Auvray, chief executive of Jahia Solutions, a firm specialising in digital marketing that kick-started development of the project.
"On a single website, there may be as many 60 external trackers when you visit. There is a lot of worry about privacy and data control issues. How is the data being collected, how will it be used, and is it opt-in or opt-out," Auvray said.
In fact, Jahia has approached the Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (Oasis) to manage the specifications for Unomi, while the Apache project team builds a reference implementation.
Although still under development, this already forms the basis for Jahia's Marketing Factory, described as a data management platform providing real-time user profile and event storage alongside a rule engine and application programming interfaces to connect with other systems.
"Over the next five years, the big focus for websites will be on customer experience management. Trust matters - just think about Ashley Madison - so it's time for data management tools to be more transparent and manageable," he said. µ
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