Takeaways from the Open Source Leadership Summit: Mainstream Open Source, Security, Policy, and Business Models


By Melissa Smolensky

The 2017 Open Source Leadership Summit, put on by the Linux Foundation, brought together leaders from the open source community in Lake Tahoe last week to discuss timely open source topics. The topics that came up most throughout the conference included: open source becoming mainstream, future open source business models, security in a time where everything is connected, and a call to action to be active in technology policy.

Open source is becoming a larger focus for major companies, from Toyota to Disney to Walmart. While open source vendors continue to look to the Red Hat model as one of the most successful open source business models to date, entrepreneurs believe there are new models that can surpass this success. As the world becomes ever more connected to the internet, there are general concerns about security, and a call to take action in policymaking. Read on below to learn more about the conversations at the Open Source Leadership Summit.

Open source is mainstream

The number of companies involved in open source projects is growing, and the community includes familiar company names from auto companies, to banking, to healthcare. Open source is not only being adopted by companies of every industry; these companies are also contributing to the projects themselves.

In his opening keynote, Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, stated that 99.4% of the world’s high performance computing systems run Linux, 64.8% of mobile devices run Linux, and 90% of the stock exchange runs on Linux.

Jim Zemlin giving his keynote at the Open Source Leadership Summit 2017

Jim Zemlin giving his keynote at the Open Source Leadership Summit 2017.

Companies such as Toyota, Daimler (DaimlerChrysler), American Express and J.P. Morgan are just some of the companies actively involved with open source standards, including with the Linux Foundation’s work with Blockchain (for the financial industry) and Automotive Grade Linux. Walmart, Capital One and Disney each spoke about their internal open source programs to not only use open source internally, but to contribute to open source as well.

As enterprises adopt open source technologies, many are looking to work alongside a vendor for support. In his keynote, Al Gillen, Vice President, Software Development and Open Source at IDC, shared research about how companies decide to adopt open source software. His report showed that 45% of enterprise companies ranked working with a commercial vendor as a top priority when adopting open source.

Al Gillen presents at the Open Source Leadership Summit 2017.

Al Gillen presents at the Open Source Leadership Summit 2017.

Security is internet security

Now that our physical space is connected to the internet through the Internet of Things movement, overall security is internet security. Bruce Schneier gave a keynote talking about how those working on the internet are building one large robot that affects the virtual world as well as the physical world.

Schneier cited a Gartner estimate that 5.5 million new end-user devices connect to the internet every day. While devices such as iPhones and Android phones are automatically patched with software and security updates, there are many more devices released each month that do not have security built-in automatically. This is a big problem in a time where hackers are using Internet of Things devices to create botnets to attack and bring down the internet.

CoreOS is a company founded with the mission to secure the internet and that provides software and security patches through self-driving infrastructure. Bruce’s discussion about the growing security challenges of the always-connected age resonates with our mission. CoreOS is a key part of the future to secure the backend of the internet, but like Bruce brought to light, there is more work to be done on the Internet of Things side as well.

Government Policy for the Internet Age

Bruce also begins a call to action for the open source community to take part in crafting policy. The government will write and enforce policy for technology companies on security and privacy, whether we participate or not. He posed the question about how open source will continue to thrive in a time of increasing government regulation, which is why the open source community must be actively involved in conversations about policy. He asks the open source community to take a seat at the table and have a voice in government policy making, rather than being handed policy from the government and reacting after the decisions have been made.

Additionally, William Hurley (also known as Whurley, discussed how the open source community is ideally situated to be involved in civic-minded activities. From bio-hacking to architecture to education to government – the open source community has the capabilities to help our government have the right responses to technology innovation. He left the stage asking the community to get involved so we can help shape the way the world interacts with technology.

The evolving open source business model

In breakout talks, Craig McLuckieSarah Novotony and Stephen Walli discussed the future business model for open source companies. No one had the definitive answer to the most successful open source business model of the future – while the open core model with support and services is well received, many think the open source model is ready for disruption. We’re seeing innovative approaches to open source market and we’re looking forward to seeing how they turn out.

Stephen Walli’s presentation underlined the need for vendors to focus on solving customer problems. Stephen’s advice is: those that focus on the customer will have the most successful open source model in the end.

What’s next?

We enjoyed the conversation with the thought leaders at the Open Source Leadership Summit and want to continue these conversations on how we can work together to broaden the open source community, explore new open source business models, strengthen security in an increasingly interconnected world, and become more active participants in creating technology policy.

Continue the conversation at CoreOS Fest on building, running, and securing your infrastructure, May 31-June 1.

This article originally appeared on CoreOS (republished with permission).