10 point maturity scale for open source in business

How open source is your business / team / developer?

Text: "Are you open source enough? Does it matter?"
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Jonathan Schwartz once wrote (in a blog that has now been deleted) about how they were in talks with an organization (he did not reveal the name, but no prizes for guessing) who contented they have a solid database and their developers have no need to use an open source database.

Schwartz's team pulled up their MySQL web server logs to show loads of download requests it received from the organization's IP range. The point is, an organization in the business of developing proprietary software cannot say they do not need or have nothing to do with open source. May not be as a strategic decision, the developers do need and use open source software and tools in their day-to-day work.

For me, I touch 10 or more open source software or tools in one work hour and have 50 or so installed on my work station. Many other developers are in a similar situation, thus can organizations today claim ignorance or apathy towards open source?

Use this progressive 10-point maturity scale to see how your organization measures up:

  1. Developers don't get much outside feedback or try new things. They work with software like they always have.
  2. Developers and project managers have heard of open source and may revere it, but are not allowed to use it.
  3. Some employees organize talks on open source, make some noise, but that's about it.
  4. Developers use open source, but because it is not 'as per policy' further innovation and/or use is not discussed.
  5. Developers have an open source policy for use, but it's strict.
  6. Developers actively use open source, policy or not, and maintain an internal directory of useful projects.
  7. Organization has well-documented guidelines for evaluating open source licenses and software that explains to developers how to choose the right projects.
  8. Open source is default and developers are encouraged to contribute back.
  9. Developers are given time to work on open source projects.
  10. The organization sponsors and maintains at least one open source project.

Where do you rank? Most organizations fall between #4 and #5. Is that enough?


About the author

Girish Managoli - Girish has over 20 years’ experience in technology and software at a global IT Services organization based in India. Girish is architect of "I Got" cloud platform to uplift the bottom of the pyramid built with open source stack and contemporary architectural patterns such as microservices, containerisation and multi tenancy. Girish writes on open source and tech topics. Views expressed here-in are his own and not necessarily that of his organization