Once upon a time, open source software (OSS) was dismissed as the ugly stepchild of proprietary software packages licensed by major software vendors such as IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP. No one wanted the phrase open source on their resume.
Today, OSS is widely installed, accepted, and acknowledged as the future of software for computing infrastructure and applications. Everyone is jumping in. Reasons for the surge in OSS adoption include:
- Its capable OSS software development community that produces better software faster than the proprietary software package vendors.
- How OSS supports the digital transformation of organizations.
- That OSS is emerging as a prerequisite to implementing cloud-based computing.
- That OSS is cheaper to license than proprietary software.
Innovative individuals can leverage these OSS trends to enhance their career and to deliver benefits for their organizations through the following actions.
Become an OSS champion
Join the open source communities that align with your organization’s requirements and your personal interests. Educate yourself, your team, and your management on OSS benefits. Determine which OSS projects you can leverage for business benefit instead of developing more and more custom software internally.
Among the vast number of OSS projects, which project should you champion within your organization? For a ranking of major OSS projects, read this article Tracking the explosive growth of open-source software. These project rankings are a useful indicator of project importance and viability. Some of these projects are likely to align with your organization’s vision for its future.
Contribute to OSS projects
Many organizations use OSS today. Unfortunately, many of them do not contribute to open source communities. By actively contributing to the design and development of OSS projects, your work will benefit many organizations. Simultaneously, your organization will benefit from the work of the entire OSS community. This collaboration produces more new functionality and more fixed software defects faster for everyone. The collaboration underlies the unequaled value OSS delivers to its community.
Since there are millions of OSS projects and only a tiny fraction are exhibiting significant momentum, how do you identify an OSS project that is worth your time to contribute to while avoiding deadbeat projects? Apply the methodology described in Open Source Metrics to identify the OSS project that is most worthwhile for you to contribute to.
Turn into an influencer in OSS projects
By contributing consistently to an OSS project, individuals build influence in the OSS community. Your contribution will enhance your reputation both in the OSS community and in your organization. That influence helps you direct projects toward functionality that is important to your organization’s priorities.
To build your strategy for becoming a noted influencer in OSS projects, read this article for ideas: Open Source: Top 100 Influencers and Brands. The key influencer strategy is to fully participate in championing innovation in OSS projects.
Change the business culture to OSS
The open source culture is open-minded, innovative and collaborative. OSS projects are leading the IT revolution in data analytics, big data, massively scalable cloud computing, AI, and social networking.
Embracing the OSS culture will help your organization not just respond to the risks associated with the changes it’s facing but also benefit from those changes. Your leadership in addressing change, as you promote adopting relevant parts of this OSS revolution, can only enhance your career.
To build your understanding of how to change the business culture to an open source culture, read this article for ideas: Sparking change with less pain: An open approach.
What issues have you encountered as you embark on shifting your organization to use OSS more? Let us know in the comments below.