Escalating Levels of Complexity in Inner Source Projects

Yesterday, I discussed what makes a good pilot project in inner source. The main thrust of the suggestion was not to start with a big bang but rather to choose a relevant but not too large project. This begs the question of complexity of projects, specifically viewed from an inner source perspective. How should you escalate and grow your ambition for inner source projects? I see a 1 + 3 structure of levels.

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The Innovations of Open Source Kolloquium Talk at University of Hamburg

Update 2019-01-30: The talk slides and a video recording (local copy) are available now.

I got invited and will be presenting a talk in the colloquium of the computer science department at the University of Hamburg tomorrow, January 28th, 2019, at 17:00 Uhr. The talk topic are the innovations of open source and I will present a broad-brush account of open source as well as the industry problems and research challenges it poses. The talk is open to the public. Hope to see you there!

Upcoming Talk on Ten Years of Inner Source Case Studies at UC Santa Cruz


Inner sourcing is the use of open source best practices within companies to improve engineering productivity. In 2006, I introduced inner source to SAP. After becoming a professor, my group helped further companies introduce inner source to their engineering organizations. Using three generations of projects, we report about our experiences and how we are turning those into a practical handbook for inner source governance.
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Internal Component Marketplaces vs. Transfer Pricing of Inner Source

I was recently asked why I argue against company-internal marketplaces for software components yet emphasize the need for pricing components that cross company boundaries within the same holding company (also known as transfer pricing). The answer is simple: Setting up an internal marketplace is a managerial choice and pricing the movement of code (IP) across company boundaries is a taxable event that you need to deal with: It is not a choice.

Let me take it in steps.

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Agile Feature Teams vs. Inner Source

Agile methods reacquainted developers with the idea of working from business value rather than focusing on technical concerns only. Agile methods are therefore often equated with feature-driven development, in which work is driven by features prioritized by business value irrespective of technical consequences. This thinking can create code silos and wreak havoc on software architecture and component quality. Developer complaints are legion, in particular for never getting the time to fix things or do them right in the first place.

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Microservices vs. Inner Source

I just listened to Eberhard Wolff’s BED-Con talk on microservice-based system architectures, which he prefers to call Independent Systems Architectures (ISA). One purpose of calling it ISA is to emphasize that there should be no common data model and no shared reusable libraries between microservices. Obviously, by discounting reuse, ISA may increase development speed short-term while increasing cost and quality problems long-term. Eventually, in his talk, Wolff came around and argued that microservce implementation independence and reuse are a trade-off rather than an either-or decision.

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Ten Years of Inner Source Case Studies (Video)

Georg Grütter of Bosch recorded my keynote at the Inner Source Commons summit in Renningen, Germany, on May 16th, 2018, and put it on Youtube. Please watch it below (original video, local copy).

According to Georg, the video is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (for the Bosch part) and I agree (for my part). Hence © 2018 Dirk Riehle, Robert Bosch GmbH (Georg Grütter and perhaps some other undetermined parties). The original title of the video recording that Georg gave it is “Prof. Dr. Dirk Riehle on the ISC.S6 – Ten Years of InnerSource Case Studies And Our Conclusions”.

Slides for Keynote at Inner Source Commons Summit at Bosch

Today, I gave a keynote at the 2018 spring Inner Source Commons summit at Bosch, in Renningen, Germany. I talked about our experiences with ten years of inner source projects at the companies we have been working with. The slides are available as a PDF.

The photo above is from the first keynote of the day, by Stefan Ferber, CEO of Bosch Software Innovations, celebrating the diversity and global distribution of software development at Bosch.