Open-Source-Software, im engeren Sinne, ist Computer-Software (Programme), die kostenfrei genutzt, modifiziert, und weitergegeben werden können. Bekannte Beispiele für Open-Source-Software sind das Linux Betriebssystem und der Firefox Web-Browser. Open Source im weiteren Sinne ist ein von Menschen getragenes Phänomen, das uns ungeahnte Möglichkeiten der weltweiten Zusammenarbeit sowie neue Geschäftsmodelle gegeben hat.
An open source company is a company whose business model is built on a customer acquisition process in which customers first use a free-to-use open source version of the product before being upsold to a commercial offering by the company.
I just read Nagle et al.’s Report on the 2020 FOSS Contributor Survey. They find that about 50% of contributors are paid by their employers to work on open source software. This confirms a 2013 paper on paid vs. volunteer work in open source of ours, which also suggested that about half of all development takes place on company time. The rub: Our paper used rather old, pre-Github times data from 2007 (culled from Ohloh, now OpenHub).
Does this mean that in the last 15 years or so corporate engagement in open source has remained stable?
In this 15min. primer I’ll take you through the basic steps of open sourcing your research software. It covers purpose of open sourcing, the rights situation, license choice, and the actual step of open sourcing.
Dave Neary and colleagues recently started a podcast on open source in business. There are already two episodes out, the first one on product management in commercial open source, and the second one on open source and the cloud. Check them out!
Even better yet, yours truly will be on the podcast for the third episode, talking about the labor economics of open source. I first thought we’d be discussing our article on the open source software developer career. However, Dave has much more in store, so don’t miss it and register right away! It will air on September 29th, 2020, at 4pm CEST/11am EDT/8am PDT with a Europe friendly timezone! The episode is live so you can ask questions.
An important benefit of an open source project is that it is long-lived and can’t go out of business. Unlike a closed source supplier, which can go bankrupt, your usage and update rights to an open source software can’t suddenly disappear.
From working with customers I know very well that the manufacturers of (comparatively) expensive machines like cars, trains, and planes have long warmed up to open source and appreciate that open source projects will stick around when (some) closed source suppliers are long gone or killed their products.
A week ago I asked the Twitterverse how to call community open source projects that are not hosted by a foundation. By saying community open source I excluded both commercial open source and corporately-run open source. The options were plain, plain old, traditional, and ungoverned. Ungoverned won with a small margin at 34% of the 111 votes. But this is only a part of the story.
Here, I want to focus on why people, most notably cloud providers, care. I will ignore sensibilities (broken promises or not) and focus on the business perspective. As I wrote before, of the three projects given to the OUC, the heat is on Istio, a (micro-)services mesh software. Angular and Gerrit may be important projects in general, but don’t matter much to Google’s revenue. So, what is it about Istio?
IEEE’s Computing Edge magazine is a practitioner-oriented publication that republishes particularly popular content from other IEEE publications. In the April 2020 issue, they republished last year’s The Innovations of Open Source article that I wrote to open the Computer magazine’s Open Source Expanded bimonthly column.