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    • Open Source Program Benefits Survey Results

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      There are many organizations out there, from companies like Red Hat to internet scale giants like Google and Facebook that have established an open source programs office (OSPO). The TODO Group, a network of open source program managers, recently performed the first ever annual survey of corporate open source programs and revealed some interesting findings on the actual benefits of open source programs.

      According to the survey, the top three benefits of managing an open source program are:

      • awareness of open source usage/dependencies
      • increased developer agility/speed
      • better and faster license compliance

      Corporate Open Source Programs on the Rise

      According to the survey, 53% of companies have an open source program or plan to establish one in the near future:

      An interesting factoid to see is that large companies are about twice as likely to run an open source program than smaller companies (63 percent vs. 37 percent). Also, technology industry organizations were more likely to have an open source program than traditional industry verticals such as the financial services industry. Another interesting trend was that most open source programs tend to start informally as a working group, committee or a few key open source developers and then evolve into formal programs over time, typically within a company’s engineering department.

      Research Shows Giving Back Is A Competitive Advantage

      It’s important to note that companies aren’t forming open source programs and giving back to open source for purely altruistic means. Recent research from Harvard Business School shows that open source contributing companies capture up to 100% more productive value from open source than companies who do not contribute back. In particular, the example of Linux was used showcased in the research:

      "It’s not necessarily that the firms that contribute are more productive on the whole. It’s that they get more in terms of productivity output from their usage of the Linux operating system than do companies that use Linux without contributing."

      In the survey, it was notable that 44 percent of companies with open source programs contribute code upstream compared to only 6 percent for companies without an open source program. If you want to sustain open source and give your business a competitive advantage, an open source program can help.

      Finally, you’ll be happy to learn that the survey results and questions are open sourced under the CC-BY-SA. The TODO Group plans to run this survey on an annual basis moving forward and in true open source fashion, we’d love your feedback on any new questions to ask, please leave your thoughts in the comments or on GitHub.


      Chris Aniszczyk About the Author: Chris Aniszczyk is currently a Vice President at OSI Affiliate Member Linux Foundation, focused on developer relations and running the Open Container Initiative (OCI) / Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

      Image credit: OSPO.png (CC BY-SA 4.0) by The Open Source Initiative is a derivitive of "Trollback + Company office.JPG" by Trollbackco from Wikimedia Commons, and used/edited with permission via CC BY-SA 4.0



    • Knowledge Sharing in Software Projects

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      In a special guest post, Megan L. Endres, Professor of Management, at Eastern Michigan University provides a debrief of data gathering from a recent survey on Knowledge Sharing promoted by the OSI.


      Thank you!

      We are extremely grateful to those who filled out the survey. We feel that our research can help create better environments at work, where team members can share knowledge and innovate.

      Purpose of the Study
      Our research is focused on knowledge sharing in ambiguous circumstances. Six Sigma is a method of quality control that should reduce ambiguity, given its structured approach. We ask whether the reduction in ambiguity is coupled with a reduction in knowledge sharing as well.

      Who responded?

      A total of 54 people responded, of whom 58% had a bachelor’s degree and 26% had a master’s degree. Average of full-time work experience was 13.9 years, and average of managerial experience was 6.7 years.

      Most respondents (53%) reported working in an organization with 400+ full-time employees, although a strong second (37%) reported working with 100 or fewer.

      Most reported that they work on a team of 3 members (21%), although a large percentage work on teams with 4 members (18.4%) and 5 members (13.2%). The complexity of the team tasks was moderately high, rated 3.66 on a 1 to 5 scale (least to most complex) (s.d. = 1.05).

      Knowledge and Sharing

      Respondents believed they brought considerable expertise to their team projects, which could be a result of good team assignments according to knowledge and skill. The average expertise reported was 4.13, on a scale of 1 (very low) to 5 (very high) (s.d. = 0.99).

      Important variables we gathered are below with the mean and standard deviation. These are the average of a set of questions that was tested for reliability and averaged. It is important to note that standard deviations are all about 1 and, given a 5-point scale, this indicates general agreement among those who responded. The average of these variables was the same for varied years of experience, years of management, size of company, and level of education.

      Variable Mean
      I share knowledge on my teams 4.35
      My team shares knowledge with me 3.51
      Knowledge sharing is valuable 4.43
      My teams are innovative/creative 4.05
      I have clear goals/feedback 3.17






       

       

       

      Relationships in the Data

      We will be gathering more data in order to perform more complex data analysis, but correlations show relationships that may prove to be important.

      Significant relationships include:

      • Higher self-reported knowledge sharing is related to more clear goal setting at work, more innovative teamwork, and positive knowledge sharing attitudes. This is not surprising because an environment with positive knowledge sharing has better communication between team members and, therefore, clarifications are more likely when goals aren’t clear. Those who worked for larger organizations (400+ employees) said that their goal setting was clearer. This also is not surprising because more formal structure in the organization probably is associated with formal performance reviews and procedures.
      • Higher team knowledge sharing is associated with less likelihood one will have a Six Sigma belt and with lower Six Sigma knowledge. This may indicate that knowledge sharing, and Six Sigma are negatively related, but until a larger sample of responses is gathered, this is only a proposition.
      • The open source software questions did not reveal important information so far. That is because you are a part of a sample that uniformly has positive attitudes toward open source (in general). Others will fill out the survey in the future who are not affiliated with open source groups and variation in the responses will allow us to study relationships with other data.

      Megan L. Endres, Professor of Management, Eastern Michigan University


      Knowledge Sharing in Software Projects, by Megan L. Endres, CC-BY 4.0. 2018

      Knowledge-sharing, by Ansonlobo. CC BY-SA 4.0. 2016. From Wikimedia Commons.



    • California’s First Open Source Election System: Maybe not!

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      OSI Affiliate Member, California Association of Voting Officials (CAVO), has expressed concerns that a recent announcement by Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (Dean Logan) and the State of California's Secretary of State (Alex Padilla) was not accurate in their descriptions of a newly certified elections tally system, "Voting System For All People" (VSAP), as using "open source technology."

      Both the Los Angeles County and California Secretary of State announcements stated the elections system was, "the first publicly-owned, open-source election tally system certified under the California voting systems standards" [emphasis added].

      Initially, the OSI expressed praise for the announcements from California,

      @CountyofLA's vote tally system is California’s first certified #elections system to use #opensource technology. This publicly-owned technology represents a significant step in the future of elections in California and across the country. https://t.co/GZ3aWZgu83 pic.twitter.com/Vn66CtplgP

      — OpenSourceInitiative (@OpenSourceOrg) August 27, 2018

      The announcement appeared to be the culmination of several years of work by LA County in developing an open source voting system. Yet almost immediately after the news broke of the open source election tally system, doubts were raised. StateScoop reported, Los Angeles County's new 'open source' vote tallying system isn't open source just yet, The StateScoop article included a comment by John Sebes, chief technology officer of the Open Source Election Technology Institute, "My takeaway is that their intention is to make it freely available to other organizations, but today it's not. It's open source in the sense that it was paid for by public funds and the intent is to share it."  In a comment to the OSI, Tim Mayer, President of CAVO ofered, "Los Angeles County must share their code publicly now. They have a history of not collaborating with the open source voting pioneers and community members. In order for it to be open source they must meet the standards."

      Chris Jerdonek, San Francisco Elections Commissioner and Chair of San Francisco's Open Source Voting System Technical Advisory Committee, requested a copy of the source code for VSAP. In response, while LA County, "determined that there are responsive records to [Jerdonek's] request," the county stated that the records are exempt from disclosure as the records:

      • are, "prohibited from disclosure by federal or state-law",
      • relate to, "information technology systems of a public agency", and
      • "the facts of the particular case dictate that the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record."

      All three of these responses conflict with global expectations of software described as open source, and contradict the specific benefits (i.e. "Linus's Law") extolled by Padilla and Logan for developing an open source elections system...

      With security on the minds of elections officials and the public, open-source technology has the potential to further modernize election administration, security, and transparency.”
      - Secretary of State, Alex Padilla.

      We observed what took place in the last decade with this heightened awareness and sensitivity to voting technology at the same time as this kind of evolution of open-source.
      - LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, Dean Logan

      “Open source software” is a defined term, that is, software distributed with an OSI-Approved Open Source License. Each of these licenses are certified based on the Open Source Definition. The OSI's License Review Process guarantees software freedom though approved licensees, providing "permission in advance" to study, use, modify and redistribute the software.

      For the Open Source Initiate, our concerns revolve around the apparent lack of regard for the open source label by county and state officials―its affordances and value―although perhaps the current state of the project is simply due to a lack of experience with, or in, open source communities of practice. Authenticity in principles and practice is of the utmost importance to the OSI in our efforts to promote and protect open source software, development and communities. Misuse (innocent or nefarious) dilutes the value, weakens trust, confuses the public, and reduces the efficacy of open source licensed software.

      Both CAVO and the OSI have requested from the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, the open source software code and the OSI-Approved Open Source License distributed with the related project certification. CAVO has also requested a web link to a demonstration site and other surrounding information. As of today, neither organization has received a response from LA County, although the OSI has been assured a reply is forthcoming.

      "We want to assure the open source community that Los Angeles' representations are being addressed with appropriate scrutiny," stated CAVO Secretary Brent Turner. "We will not allow 'open-washing' to interfere with our efforts toward the national security."

      Although concerned at this point with the communications around, the "first publicly owned, open source election tally system certified under the California voting systems standards," we at the OSI are extremely enthusiastic that there is apparently interest and efforts underway to deliver open source voting systems. We are hopeful that these initial shortcomings are simply gaps in process and practice inherent to bureaucracies and operations as they evolve, adopt new technologies, and update policies.

      The OSI and CAVO stand ready, and offer our support and expertise to Los Angeles County and the State of California to help develop, deploy and build community around their elections software.



    • 20 Years with, and at OSCON

       

      OSCON, the annual open source conference organized by O'Reilly Media, is always a great event for the open source community to come together to acknowledge the advancements of the open source software movement and the communities that enable it. However 2018 was a special year as several open source projects and communities marked significant milestones and celebrated anniversaries, including the OSI (you may have heard, it's our 20th).

      In recognition of the success of the open source software movement, and successes of so many organizations that have contributed to software freedom, the OSI organized a full-day of presentations, discussions, and activities. The track, "Open Source Anniversary: Our Shared Successes", not only celebrated the founding of the open source software movement and the OSI itself in 1998, but also the anniversaries of several other key initiatives that have enabled the free and open source software movement to thrive.

      • Deb Nicholson, Director of Community Operations at Software Freedom Conservancy, presented 30+ years history of the Free Software movement.
      • Jose Parrella, Principal Program Manager at Microsoft and Debian Developer, provided highlights of Debian's 25 years.
      • The 25th anniversary of Red Hat was covered by Michael Tiemann, former OSI Board President and VP Open Source Affairs at Red Hat.
      • The FreeBSD Foundation, celebrating 25 years, was represented by their Executive Director, Deb Goodkin.
      • Abby Mayes, Practice Lead, Working Open at Mozilla, shared Mozilla's 20 year history.

      Highlighting the continued growth and maturity of the now twenty-year open source software movement, our track also included several other talks featuring emerging initiatives:

      • OSI Incubator Project ClearlyDefined, crowdsourcing FOSS data for project success, was introduced by Carol Smith, Senior Open Source Program Manager at Microsoft and OSI Board Director.
      • Software Heritage, browsing 20 years of FOSS, and then some, was presented by Stefano Zacchiroli, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Université Paris Diderot, CTO of Software Heritage, former Debian Project Leader, and former OSI Board Member.
      • OSI Board Director/Treasurer and Program Manager at Google, Josh Simmons, presented, "Teaching the next generation to FLOSS."

      Finally, we were very fortunate to host two very special keynotes:

      Later in the evening, to celebrate this special occasion, we hosted a party, "Cupcakes & Cocktails" where the real highlight of the day took place: a memorable panel discussion on the founding the OSI, and its early work in promoting open source, with OSI Co-founder Bruce Perens, former OSI President Michael Tiemann, and former OSI DIrector Danese Cooper, moderated by current OSI President Simon Phipps. We were honored with over 150 guests joining us for the party, who not only heard some of the history of open source from those who made it, but may have also participated in a little bit of history themselves that evening.

      While the anniversary track was a real highlight in our celebration of open source over the past 20 years, throughout OSCON we also conducted interviews with open source luminaries to capture their recolections of the movement's beginnings, and expectations for the future of open source software. We were fortunate to speak with Tim O'Reilly, Bruce Perens, Chris DiBona, Luis Villa, Alolita Sharma, and several other key people from the open source movement. In the coming months we'll share these interviews, along with each of the presenttions and the panel discussion from the day's events, here and on our community portal OpenSource.Net.

      Importantly, we want to thank our dedicated sponsors for their support in making all of our events, and indeed, all of OSCON so successful: Amazon Web Services, DigitalOcean, GitHub, Google, IBM, Indeed, Heptio, Linux Foundation, Microsoft, and Percona.

      OSCON was a great opportunity to celebrate our Anniversary. We want to thank everyone who has helped us make this celebration a wonderful experience!

       

       



    • Should we celebrate the anniversary of open source?

      Today in Portland at OSCON, OSI will be celebrating 20 years of open source. I’ve had a few comments along the lines of “I’ve was saying ‘open source’ before 1998 so why bother with this 20 year celebration?”

      That’s entirely possible. The phrase is reputed to have been used descriptively about free software — especially under non-copyleft licenses — from at least 1996 when it appeared in a press release. Given its appropriateness there’s a good chance it was in use earlier, although I’ve not found any reliable citations to support that. It was also in use in another field well before then, to describe military or diplomatic intelligence obtained by studying non-classified sources.

      But there’s no doubt that the gathering at VA Linux where a group of key figures adopted Christine Peterson’s suggestion and decided to use the term to label a marketing programme for free software was a crucial moment. From that point onward, people who wanted to promote software freedom in business or wanted to identify their own approach to doing business with free software had a collectively-agreed term. It’s much easier to make a thing real if you have a word for it.

      From that moment it became easy to talk about open source projects, open source business models, the benefits of open source and so on. Yes, people could talk about free software in the same way, but many of us found setting a “price frame” at the start of a discussion an unhelpful distraction requiring justification — “you mean you just want to give it away?” This arose because of the strength for native English speakers of the notion of zero cost associated with the word “free” and the need to dive into discussions about freedom in order to counter it.

      The formation of OSI also changed things. By defining open source in reference to a definition of how to identify licenses that deliver the right to use, study, improve and share code, developers were empowered to use open source software without needing to seek further advice. By making a talking point of the methodology enabled by software freedom, open source enabled business adoption in a way that a frame based on promoting liberty would possibly derail. Together, this convergence of meaning made open source a lightning rod for change and an idea that could be spread outside a bubble of like minds. That’s not to say open source lacked a philosophical base; rather, that base became a foundation rather than the lead talking point.

      Open source did not emerge from a void. It was consciously a marketing programme for the already-15-year-old idea of free software and arose in the context of both the GNU Project and the BSD community and their history (stretching back to the late 70s). We chose to reflect this in the agenda for our celebration track at OSCON.

      But that doesn’t mean its inception is irrelevant. The consensus to define open source at the VA Linux meeting and the subsequent formation of OSI and acceptance of the Open Source Definition changed the phrase from descriptive to a term of art accepted globally. It created a movement and a market and consequently spread software freedom far beyond anyone’s expectations. That has to be worth celebrating.


      Image credit: "spirit.png" is a derivative of "43427372221_5c3afe5d39_h.jpg", via Meshed Insights, and used with permission under a Creative Commons with Attribution (CC-By) license.

      This article was originally published in Meshed Insights, and was made possible by Patreon patrons.