Takeaways from the Open Source Leadership Summit

Adopting Open Source in the Enterprise

Open Source software (OSS) has become a staple within IT departments at companies worldwide. In addition to enabling businesses to fully utilize the benefits of Open Source, The Linux Foundation helps facilitate investment into Open Source technologies, while guiding enterprises to be “good citizens” of the community.

At the Open Source Leadership Summit, despite the notable number of attendees wearing blue-jeans instead of slacks and speakers dropping ‘F bombs’ during keynotes, the culture surrounding the conference was certainly business, collaboration, and solution orientated. As Jim Zemlin, the Executive Director of the Linux Foundation stated in the opening keynote: The Linux Foundation’s goal is to, “create the largest shared technology investment in the world.” With a goal like that, it’s no wonder the conference attracts people with character.

Jim states that with the Linux Foundation’s focus on increasing contributions and diversity for OSS projects, the foundation supports, “$14.5B worth of value in terms of lines of code.” So in addition to sessions from the major players in Open Source like Mozilla, Google, and Intel, major commercial firms chimed in with their experiences as well: Disney, Microsoft, Capital One, AT&T, Walmart, and Ebay to name a few. Each enterprise explained their path to moving towards OSS technologies, setbacks along the way, and their current place in driving internal adoption and community contribution (hint: none of them are done!). Altogether, boiling everything down to one overwhelming theme from the commercial IT teams at the Open Source Leadership Conference: companies want to invest in Open Source.

Highlighting a trend mentioned by Al Gillen from the analyst firm IDC, C level executives are now pushing Open Source initiatives down to teams at rates far faster than ever before. While the commercial pioneers who have blazed the trail for adapting up-and-coming technologies into their companies spoke at the Summit, other organizations sent representatives to attend and learn how to follow in their footsteps. Those further down the path are now discovering that consuming open source isn’t enough. By being active code contributors, companies get to solve their business needs while guiding project development and giving back.

The consensus is that Open Source is doing development right: allowing for decentralized teams to work on projects that they are passionate about; all while improving the bottom line of the companies that they work for. Similar decentralized systems need to be in place on the business end in order to effectively manage Open Source adoption and contributions. Altogether, employee trust is the backbone of the model which is contrary to authoritarian business model that still dominates traditional industries.

As best recapped by the founder of Linux himself, Linus Torvalds, projects are “99% perspiration, 1% inspiration.” Pushing on the fact that innovative, big, and different thinking aren’t enough: in order to be successful with an Open Source initiative, people need to focus on the details and put in real work. This real work will in-turn, create value for your enterprise, happiness for your employees, and enable advancement in the industry a whole.

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