Economics Drives More Open Source Projects

July 29, 2015 at 5:50 pm By

Recently, companies have been giving away valuable source code to non-profit organizations for no cost, but not because they’ve mounted their moral high horse. In fact, open source projects are the way of the future.

For those unfamiliar, open source is code that is publicly available and therefore available to be modified and redistributed freely.

According to The Wire, “Google recently made big news by giving away an open source project. Google “gave away all rights to Kubernetes, a cloud computing system originally designed by Google engineers, asking a non-profit to manage its development. It didn’t just share some software code with the world. It agreed to let an independent party oversee the development of the code,” the article said. 

There are many foundations that exist nowadays that compile open source projects so that companies and independent developers can work together on projects that benefit them all.

“Why are so many companies giving away their intellectual property? It’s not happening for altruistic reasons. In his keynote at the O’Reilly Open Source Conference in Portland, Oregon last week, Cloud Foundry Foundation CEO Sam Ramji argued that the shift is being driven by economics,” the article said.

The “foundation model” comes from users looking for independently managed open source projects.

“Companies like Google want others to use their open source software since it can help drive the use of online services, like Google’s cloud computing tools. They want others to contribute code to this software too. But increasingly, others don’t want to use or contribute to projects unless they’re independently managed.”

The good side of the foundation model is that it encourages collaboration because one company does not control the work being done with its best interests in mine.

The downside is that with the potential of having so many different people contributing to the task, the work can be done slower and with less innovation versus being led by a “small team with clear goals.”

But “even if foundations move more slowly than companies, they might still win out in the end.” Some studies and research suggest that “[t]here appears to be a ‘glass ceiling’ limiting the growth of of single vendor projects. In other words, if you want your project to grow, giving away the code to an independent organization is the best way to do that,” the article said.

Read more here.