Increasing Corporate Participation in Open Source
Corporations under-participate in open source projects. Improving participation requires changes in company culture, business practices, and software development practices.
Corporations under-participate in open source projects. Improving participation requires changes in company culture, business practices, and software development practices. In this talk we'll look at each of these three issues, suggest some strategies for addressing them, and talk about first-hand experience with these issues at the CodePlex Foundation.
One approach to thinking about cultural differences is to think about the tension between control and innovation. Corporations often place an emphasis on controlled development, while open source communities place more emphasis on unrestrained innovation. Improved communication will come from each side understanding the values of the other. A mediating organization can play an invaluable role in enabling community and corporations to better communicate their values and the rationale behind them to each other.
Business practices issues center around the questions of what to release as open source, why, and how. While much work has been done on open source licensing, this issue really only address the "how". Corporations still struggle with the "what" and "why". Corporations assess risk very differently from the way community projects assess risk. A mediating organization can provide a legal and business framework that, on the one hand, reduces risk, and, on the other hand, improves education within corporations about the real risks (or lack of risks) with open source.
Software development practices involve reconciling a structured, sometimes rigid software development life cycle with more agile and iterative practices common in open source. For corporations used to dealing with a partner network or a group of ISVs, the amorphous nature of the open source community can be difficult to engage with. A mediating organization provides an entity that both sides can comfortably enage with, simplifying and streamlining the open source engagement process for corproations.
While the CodePlex Foundation is a relatively new entry to the group of open source non-profits, it was conceived as the kind of mediating entity that could address these challenges in corporate participation in open source projects. If the Foundation is successful in its mission, corporate participation should increase, to the benefit of both open source businesses and the open source community.