Enterprise Open Source Programs: From Concept to Reality


How pervasive is open source in today’s businesses? According to the 2016 Future of Open Source Survey from Black Duck and North Bridge, a mere three percent of respondents say they don’t use any open source tools or platforms.

Leveraging open source has also become a key avenue for fostering new ideas and technologies. Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Open Source Software (2016) notes that organizations are using open source today not just for cost savings, but increasingly for innovation. With this in mind, major companies and industries are quickly building out their open source programs, and the open source community is responding.

Open Source as a Business Priority

The Linux Foundation, the OpenStack Foundation, Cloud Foundry, InnerSource Commons, and the Free Software Foundation are just some of the organizations that businesses can turn to when advancing their open source strategies. Meanwhile, countless enterprises have rolled out professional, in-house programs focused on advancing open source and encouraging its adoption.

In a previous article, I covered some of these businesses that may not immediately come to mind. For example, Walmart’s  Walmart Labs division has released a slew of open source projects, including a notable one called Electrode, which is a product of Walmart’s migration to a React/Node.js platform. General Electric also might not be the first company that you think of when it comes to moving the open source needle, but GE is a powerful player in open source. GE Software has an “Industrial Dojo” – run in collaboration with the Cloud Foundry Foundation – to strengthen its efforts to solve the world’s biggest industrial challenges.

Over the past couple of years, we have also seen increased focus on open source within vertical industries not historically known for embracing it. As this post notes, LMAX Exchange, Bloomberg, and CME Group are just three of the companies in the financial industry that are innovating with open source tools and components and moving past merely consuming open source software to becoming contributors. For example, you can find projects that Bloomberg has contributed to the open source community on GitHub. Capital One and Goldman Sachs are advancing their open source implementations and programs as well.

The telecom industry, previously known for its proprietary ways, is also embracing open source in a big way. Ericsson, for example, regularly contributes projects and is a champion of several key open source initiatives. You can browse through the company’s open source hub here. Ericsson is also one of the most active telecom-focused participants in the effort to advance open NFV and other open technologies that can eliminate historically proprietary components in telecom technology stacks. Ericsson works directly with The Linux Foundation on these efforts, and engineers and developers are encouraged to interface with the open source community.

Other telecom players who are deeply involved with NFV and open source projects include AT&T, Bloomberg LP, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT Group, SK Telekom, and Verizon.

Red Hat maintains a dedicated blog on telecoms transforming their infrastructure and technology stacks with open source tools and components. Likewise, you can find Red Hat’s ongoing coverage of how open source is transforming the oil and gas industry here.

Resources for Leveraging Open Source

Organizations of any size can take advantage of resources, ranging from training to technology, to help them build out their own open source programs and initiatives. On the training front, The Linux Foundation offers courses on everything from Essentials of OpenStack Administration to Software Defined Networking. The Foundation also offers a free ebook, Open Source Compliance in the Enterprise, that can help organizations understand issues related to the licensing, development and reuse of open source software. Additionally, The Linux Foundation’s ebook Open Source Compliance in the Enterprise offers practical guidelines on how best to use open source code in products and services.

Organizations can also partner with businesses already leveraging open source, so that they can share resources. The Linux Foundation’s TODO is a partnered group of companies that collaborates on practices and policies for running powerful open source projects and programs. According to TODO:

“Open source is part of the fabric of each of our companies. Between us, our open source programs enable us to use, contribute to, and maintain, thousands of projects – both large and small. These programs face many challenges, such as ensuring high-quality and frequent releases, engaging with developer communities, and contributing back to other projects effectively. The members of this group are committed to working together in order to overcome these challenges. We will be sharing experiences, developing best practices, and working on common tooling. But we can’t do this alone. If you are a company using or sharing open source, we welcome you to join us and help make this happen.”

InnerSource Commons, founded by PayPal, also specializes in helping companies pursue open source methods and practices as well as exchange ideas. You can find the group’s GitHub repositories here, and a free O’Reilly ebook called Getting Started with InnerSource offers more details. The ebook reviews the principles that make open source development successful and includes case study material on how InnerSource has worked at PayPal.

Are you interested in how organizations are bootstrapping their own open source programs internally? You can learn more in the Fundamentals of Professional Open Source Management training course from The Linux Foundation. Download a sample chapter now.