The seventh Paris Open World Forum (OWF) opened today in … well, where you might expect — Paris. And this year it’s all about reclaiming data. Not just about the data you use to carry out everyday business tasks, but about the kind of data that gets lost when IT companies close down the source.

Interestingly, even the password for access to the Wi-Fi system here underscores the drive of this conference, which is, according to Florent Zara, OWF president, is about demonstrating how enterprises and users can regain control of their data.

Numerous Players

“I truly believe free and open source are the best way for all of us to gain digital independence at every level. I also want to light a fuse on security and privacy, two topics you can’t ignore anymore. In my opinion, only FLOSS solutions can give appropriate answers,” Zara said today.

This is the focus of the two-day conference that runs through tomorrow, and is drawing a strong showing from local and international companies. Paris has a number of open source vendors that readers of CMSWire will be familiar with, including Jahia and Nuxeo.

Patrice Bertrand, president of the CNLL, an organization representing open source enterprises in France, said there are 330 players focused on FLOSS (the French equivalent of FOSS), including software vendors, service providers, integrators, consultants and trainers.

This, however is not just a local event. It’s a real global forum, with representation from many US heavy hitters. And in a sense, global connections are what this event is about. It's about building an open source bridge or reaffirming the presence of that bridge, especially between France and the US.

During the conference, open source geeks — and I mean that in the nicest way possible — are gathering in an annex of the George V hotel just off the Champs Elysees. You've probably heard of the hotel, popularized in numerous movies, including Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.

Did I Mention the Setting?

The George V is located in one of the ritziest quarters in Paris, only a stone's throw from the Louis Vuitton mega store (if you can accurately apply the word "mega" to Louis Vuitton). It's also a beautiful time of year here, which has nothing to do with the open world forum but worth mentioning in a story that evokes images of the City of Lights.

There is a point to all the Paris-speak. Firstly, it demonstrates that at least in France, open source is respectable – it’s good business. Secondly, it demonstrates the importance this conference has for the French, European and IT and open source communities. It also shows how seriously the city takes open source and flies its open source credentials.

Last night, for example, at a pre-event social, politicians from the Paris town hall and the regional administration brushed shoulders with open source vendors and thinkers who are driving this week's event.

From across the Atlantic, there are numerous big names, including IBM, Microsoft, HP and Oracle. The president of Mozilla Europe, Tristan Nitot, will address participants today will be giving a presentation at the end of the first day, and representatives from Red Hat, Ubuntu, Drupal and WordPress are making appearances, too.

Good Discussion, Better Pastry

Martin Michlmayr, HP’s open source community expert in Europe, Mael Brunet, director of European Policy and Government relations for OpenForum Europe, and Zara, the OWF president, are all on the agenda..

Most of these companies are present because of the substantial IT industry in and around Paris. And there’s nothing like a conference and the promise of fresh pastries to drag the most recalcitrant out of bed and down town.

And yes, it is Paris. So the coffee is good, the pastries plentiful. It is not a cliché. The French may like their open source and we’re hearing a lot about it during this conference. But they also like their pastries, and on that front, things are looking exceptionally good.

Title image by Noreen Seebacher / all rights reserved.