Black Duck buys Olliance, inherits consulting service
Waltham, Mass.-based Black Duck Software Inc. is expanding its open source development governance offerings to include strategy consulting services for enterprise customers as a result of the acquisition of Olliance Group LLC.

The provider of open source management tools is bringing onboard the Palo Alto, Calif.-based privately-held open source strategy consulting firm to broaden its ability to provide an “end-to-end” offering to enterprises.

All too often, companies jump into implementing new technologies without having taken the time to devise a strategic approach, said Peter Vescuso, senior vice-president with Black Duck Software.

“(It’s about) having coherent strategies and policies explicitly stated … helping customers develop this is really, really important,” said Vescuso.

Olliance Group will run as an independent entity within Black Duck. Of its five founding partners, two are moving to Black Duck. One of these founders, Andrew Aitken, describing Olliance Group as a “small, niche agency boutique,” said there will now be a greater reach and greater access to resources to offer strategy consulting.

Areas of expertise include mobile and embedded, enterprise IT, open source startups, legal and compliance.

As to whether post-integration consulting services will differ from what Olliance Group used to offer, Aitken said the first step is to address scalability and integration of services, and to fine tune offerings to the Black Duck model.

“As time goes, we’re going to figure out a balance between independence and the ability to offer our core strategy offerings and the more tightly coupled relationship around our governance policy and process work,” said Aitken.

The acquisition of Olliance is Black Duck’s fourth, and its third in recent months. It bought SpikeSource in November 2010, in October 2010, and in 2008.

Olliance has conducted more than 450 strategy engagements with customers ranging from Fortune 500 enterprises to start ups across almost a decade. Aitken has observed no cookie-cutter open source approach for enterprises but explains that every engagement will inevitably start with understanding risk factors, what shapes an enterprises’ use of open source, and the history of the internal development environment.

Vescuso agreed, saying it’s common to encounter large enterprises with a blanket open source policy that reads a simple “No GPL.” “In a lot of ways, that’s a pretty ignorant perspective because there are lots of ways you can use GPL code perfectly well with little to no risk in your existing environment,” said Vescuso. “A lot of it is understanding the differences between licences and how you can deploy them.”

Basically, developers get the freedom they need to build with open source, but with the management controls the organization demands, added Vescuso.

Jay Lyman, enterprise software analyst with the 451 Group Inc., said Black Duck’s acquisition of Olliance Group is a good move that will scale its consulting capability along with its other software and service offerings.

“Given its positioning as a facilitator and advisor of open source software in the enterprise, it makes sense for Black Duck to add a consulting piece at this point,” said Lyman.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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