How can you spin your research into a startup? We asked Dirk Riehle, professor of Computer Science and advocate for founders with an academic background, for insights and advice. Before becoming a professor, Dirk has worked in industry, always in close connection with startups. His passion for entrepreneurship has become a big part of his professorship and Dirk has been developing, guiding, and supporting startups from research.
tl;dr The communities that form around community open source are very different from those that form around commercial open source; confuse them at your own risk.
The recent announcement by Elastic to relicense their software away from open source licenses to commercial and source-available licenses only has triggered the debate about rights and expectations of open source communities again (local copy 1, 2, 3).
Legally speaking, I assume that this is fully within Elastic’s rights. I assume they either outright own all copyright to the relicensed code or collected copyrights by way of contributor license agreements from anyone whose code they accepted into their code base.
Abstract: Increasingly companies realize the value of using free/libre and open source software (FLOSS) in their products, but need to manage the associated risks. Leading companies introduce open source governance as a solution. A key aspect of corporate FLOSS governance deals with choosing and evaluating open source components for use in products. Following an industry-based research approach, we present 13 best practices in the pattern format of context-problem-solutions paired with consequences. In this paper, we cover an excerpt of the Component Approval section of our FLOSS governance handbook. This article builds upon our previous EuroPLoP publication covering Component Reuse in FLOSS governance processes, as well as other publications on the topic. Analyzing qualitative data gathered from 15 expert interviews, we derive and interconnect the common industry recommendations for reviewing, tracking, and approving open source components in a company environment. We conclude by presenting workflow templates that put various best practices in relation to each other.
Keywords: Commercial use of open source, component approval, FLOSS, FOSS, industry best practice, open source software, open source governance, pattern language
Reference: Harutyunyan, N. & Riehle, D. (2020). Industry Best Practices for Component Approval in FLOSS Governance. In Proceedings of the 25th European Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (EuroPLoP ’20). ACM, article 33.
Next month, February 2021, I will be presenting lightening talks at both FOSDEM 2021 (Feb 6th) and FOSS Backstage 2021 (Feb 10th) about how to get your Ph.D. and have a startup too. At FOSDEM it will be a 5min. presentation, at FOSS Backstage a 15min. presentation. Both conferences are free to attend virtually, and in both cases, you can ask questions and get to know more about this initiative. See you there!
Abstract: Open source software usage in companies is on the rise, often resulting in lower development costs, higher quality, and quick availability of code. However, using open source software in products comes with legal, business, and technical risks. Experienced companies prevent and address these risks through corporate open source governance. In our previous work, we studied how top-tier companies got started with corporate open source governance. We proposed a set of industry best practices on the topic, using the practical format of interconnected context-problem-solution patterns. In this study, we put the proposed state-of-the-art practices to the test by evaluating their real-life application in a case study at a Germany-based multi-billion-dollar corporation with products in four distinct industries and more than 17000 employees worldwide. In the course of two and a half years, we conducted 35 semi-structured employee interviews and workshops in five divisions of the company to assess the initial situation of open source governance, the process of getting started with governance following our recommendations, and the outcomes. In this paper, we report the results of this longitudinal case study by presenting the artifacts created while getting started with open source governance, as well as the transferability evaluation of the proposed best practices, both individually and collectively.
Keywords: Practice-based information system research, best practices, longitudinal case study, corporate open source governance, open source software, OSS, FLOSS.
Reference: Harutyunyan, N. & Riehle, D. (2021). Getting Started with Corporate Open Source Governance: A Case Study Evaluation of Industry Best Practices. In Proceedings of the 54th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS 2021), pp. 6263-6274.
This 5 min. lightening talk shows how doctoral students can turn their work into a commercial open source startup. Current opportunities for doing so with me are in the open data and open source robotics space.
On May 4th, 2021, I will give a talk about user-led open source consortia and the associated business strategies of non-software vendors at the 2nd International Automotive Software Strategies conference (online or in Munich). Take a look at the conference flyer and / or register using the SV Veranstaltungen website. You can get 20% off using the promotion code REF20-82110112. User-led open source consortia are an important topic and arguably the next trillion dollar opportunity in the software industry.
Judging from my industry friends, some time in their professional career (usually later), the teaching bug bites them and they wonder about passing on their knowledge to a new generation of industrialists and entrepreneurs. A regular position as a professor at a German public university or a polytechnic (university of applied sciences) is often unattainable because of age and a missing or limited publication record, and even though I’d recommend it, contributing as an unpaid lecturer and building up a vita to go for an honorary professor position seems unattractive.