On behalf of the academic and research meteorological community, the Unidata Program Center strongly recommends consideration of the benefits to NWS, the Unidata community, and to Raytheon of open-source licensing for the AWIPS-II software.
An open-source license would take advantage of the enormous technical and intellectual resources distributed in the academic and research meteorological community. Access to the source code allows scientists and developers to find and fix bugs, test new algorithms and data sources, and add new features to AWIPS-II. Unidata has been developing meteorological software in Java for more than 10 years, and has much code and expertise that could be useful to AWIPS-II. The important point is that with an appropriate open-source license, all this work is done for free, and is available to be fed back into the AWIPS II software at NWS and Raytheon's discretion.
Open-source is the new paradigm for 21st century software development, particularly software like AWIPS-II that is of such importance for so many sectors of the public. In this time of constrained budgets, the NWS simply will not have the resources to fund cycles of proprietary, software in a waterfall methodology of requirement, procurement, and development. An open-source license allows developers such as those in the Unidata community to add new features, with the NWS and Raytheon picking the successful ones in each release.
We understand that it is likely that Raytheon would want to leverage their work in the AWIPS-II software for other commercial projects. A GPL-like license has been found to be a viable barrier to entry for competitors. As the manager and developer of the official production AWIPS-II release, Raytheon would be the first choice vendor for derivative applications. The critical point is that any work done by a competitor would have to be made available to Raytheon and the NWS. Raytheon stands to benefit tremendously from an open-source license.
We have a unique opportunity at this time to produce not just another incrementally better software system for the NWS, but rather to create a software development process that will engage a huge set of participants to produce dynamically evolving software with state-of-the-art research advances. We urge the NWS and Raytheon to continue to be bold in their vision of AWIPS-II by making a commitment to releasing it under an open-source license