There have been a few heads-up over the last week about 52°North, who have just announced an initiative for geospatial open source software. Of course, we’ve heard this before, but this time ESRI are on board.

So, we have Autodesk supporting OSGEO, and ESRI supporting 52North’s initiative (it needs a snappy title or acronym). The approach seems different though, because Autodesk chipped in right from the word go by open-sourcing one fork of MapGuide, which they freely admitted was not a core product. It appears however as if ESRI are not looking to open-source one of their existing products, but to help to develop new technologies, currently in the areas of Sensor Web Enablement (SWE), Security and Digital Rights Management (to quote from the press release).

Personally, I can’t decide if the big guys are squaring up for an opensource fight, or if we’re just seeing much more involvement in the opensource movement. Following on from the recent discussion about the use of opensource alternatives to ESRI’s main product lines, and further back, ESRI’s decision to include support for PostgreSQL as a database, hopefully this is all a sign of a gathering momentum. At first I thought this 52 North initiative was a bad thing- a dilution of focus, but maybe it’s just a sign that the snowball’s getting that bit bigger. More products, and some healthy competition has to be good, right?