The development of software applications today relies heavily on open-source components. Consider Android as an example. It is an open-source operating system built on open Linux Kernel and holds 75% of the global market share. The usage of open-source has become a standard practice in the tech industry, as no tech firm can consider developing software without involving open-source components. This aggressive reliance on open-source has triggered the need for setting up a solid open-source strategy. In this blog, we will take a comprehensive look at open-source strategy, its role in business growth, and how to build such a strategy. 

What is an Open-Source Strategy?

An Open-source strategy is an organization’s strategic plan on how to use open-source components in order to keep the business’s products compliant and secure. An open-source strategy highlights all elements about how to use open-source resources, such as choosing components, integration with the main code, license management, bug fixes, and other similar elements. It aligns open-source usage with business goals, thereby boosting efficiency, accelerating innovation, and reducing risks. 

Why do you need an Open-Source Strategy?

The present tech industry cannot rely on simply picking up open-source components randomly without considering things like security vulnerabilities and open-source licenses. Doing so can lead to security loopholes, bugs, and non-compliance issues. 

With an open-source strategy, an organization is in a better position to ensure compliance beforehand, instead of doing it once the damage has already been done. In addition, it sets up processes or guidelines that can help developers and other teams to engage with open-source resources in a way that aligns with the business objectives. In short, an open-source strategy ensures that an organization has a clear path on how to utilize open-source resources and maximize ROI. 

Process of Building an Open-Source Strategy

Different organizations can opt for different approaches to build an open-source strategy but the following are elements common to all:

  • Setting Targets and Limitations: The first and crucial step in building an open-source strategy is to set what targets are expected to be achieved with open-source resources and what are the usage limitations. This way, employees will know where they are permitted to or prohibited from utilizing open-source resources, and how such resources are going to facilitate achieving targeted goals.
  • Setting Legal, Governance, and Risk Structures: Not all open-source components can be used instantly, therefore there is a need to set up governance and risk policies. This way, employees will be aware of which components can be used without any extra reviews and which ones should go through the proper risk review process. The main factors that can help in such decisions include the component’s popularity, security level, maintenance cost, etc.
  • Establishing an Open-Source Office: In order to properly manage the usage of open-source components, setting up an open-source office facilitates a lot. It can act as a one-stop place for setting up open-source rules and guidelines, addressing all the related activities, and distributing resources across the open-source teams within an organization.
  • Setting the Success Criteria: Just like any business strategy, an open-source strategy should also be checked and updated continuously. This requires setting up acceptance criteria based on what you are targeting to achieve. So, depending on your plans and strategic goals, develope acceptance criteria to improve the efficiency and performance of your open-source strategy.

In a nutshell, build the open-source strategy by presenting clearly how it is going to assist your organization in achieving its objectives. Afterward, set up evaluation measures to ensure that your strategy is successfully implemented. This way, a proper open-source strategy with success measurements will eventually lead to better decision-making, efficient performance, and quality deliveries. 

Conclusion

Open-source software and methods are turning software development processes into a new paradigm, where instead of developing code privately, software components are being modified, shared, and openly redistributed. Those organizations that are extracting the full potential of open-source components while ensuring proper open-source strategy are in a better position to innovate, grow, and gain a competitive advantage. 

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