Estimating the Total Development Cost of Linux Foundation’s Collaborative Projects

In the past ten years, open source has taken over the software industry. As the speed and requirements of innovation are changing, technology companies have realized that to keep pace and be cost effective they must leverage external R&D in the form of open source projects.

Open source has many benefits: from increased interoperability to reduced costs as multiple vendors and users leverage shared resources for non-differentiated parts of the stack. Companies using open source are building products faster and more efficiently; and once the code is part of a vibrant open source project, the value through continued community support is multiplied. For infrastructure especially, large-scale open source development has become the de facto way to develop software.

Since 2008, the Linux Foundation has worked with the world’s leading technology companies and most talented developers to host large-scale open source projects across multiple segments of the technology industry. Our mission is to adapt the principles and practices that have made Linux so successful and offer them to any endeavor working to solve complex problems.

This paper attempts to answer two questions:

  1. What would be the monetary cost of rebuilding or developing the software residing in The Linux Foundation’s collaborative projects if an organization had to create it from scratch? What R&D value are the people who use these projects receiving?

  2. What is the value in collaboration outside of this cost that is gained via commercial companies shipping this open code in products (and then working within the projects to improve and advance the code)? In short, what is the ecosystem accelerant inherent in these projects?

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