This page is the 1st chapter of the 4S story:
4S is an ecosystem for providers and users of open source modules for telemedicine / telehealth systems based on national (Danish) and international standards.
First of all, 4S defines itself as a software ecosystem, but what exactly does that mean? Manikas & Hansen define software ecosystems as:
“… the interaction of a set of actors on top of a common technological platform that results in a number of software solutions or services. Each actor is motivated by a set of interests or business models and connected to the rest of the actors and the ecosystem as a whole with symbiotic relationships, while, the technological platform is structured in a way that allows the involvement and contribution of the different actors. In other words, the [software ecosystem] provides possibilities for the actors to benefit from their participation in the ecosystem.”
Manikas & Hansen. Software ecosystems – A systematic literature review
Of course the term ecosystem originates from the world of biology. A thriving ecosystem is characterized by growth and a great diversity in its population. Furthermore, in nature the animals migrate – they are attracted to an ecosystem if it is healthy, and they leave if it is not. Ecosystems may be wild and “unmanaged”, or they may be managed by a gardener or farmer, who cultivates and fertilizes the soil.
The key thing to notice here is, that (with the exception of the gardener or farmer), the individuals of the ecosystem's population are not participating to support the others nor to advance the ecosystem – the individuals are there because they feed from the environment, and they leave (or die) if they don't like it. So in other words, the individuals are all motivated by their own interests!
By this analogy, a thriving software ecosystem is a community in which many different customers and enterprises exist in a symbiotic relationship where all receive value from participation.
You can find more information about business models and the advantages of joining the 4S ecosystem on the why participate in 4S page.
The following journal papers explore the concept of “software ecosystems” in relation to 4S:
See also the following pages:
The following pages explain the fundamental idea of 4S: