The holiday decorations are now (hopefully) put away, and fond memories of merriment from the past month or so are behind us. All that remains now is the time-honored tradition of the New Year’s Resolution. This should not surprise most of you, but the perennial favorite is usually a combination of ‘lose weight, eat healthier, get in better shape.’ Pondering my own resolutions to continue on a healthier path got me thinking about what it means to get your company in ‘Open Source Shape.’
There are many parallels to successfully getting yourself in better physical shape and getting your company started on the right foot to more successful and productive use of open source. Let’s take a look at a few of these examples below, pulling some lessons from the exercise world that you can apply in your enterprise.
Transforming Organizational DNA – sounds like a lofty goal brought down from the ivory towers of an MBA or marketing program, doesn’t it?
While it is a lofty goal, the way companies utilize technology is fundamentally shifting, and savvy organizations realize this transformation is now well under way. In a recent keynote at the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC), Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst gave a talk that highlights this trend. He touched on the explosion of computing power, plummeting costs, and the near ubiquity of technology that was simply not available even a few years ago.
In 2012, most IT executives have already seen aspects of what Jim was talking about. There’s no longer any question that Linux and open source provide real enterprise options — these are not only robust and secure, but are viable alternatives to proprietary solutions. Despite this recognition, a recent Sonatype survey found that over half the respondents didn’t have a corporate open source strategy/policy. Even this far into the ‘Age of Open Source,’ policies to help corporations effectively and strategically consume open source are not the norm.
Open Source is not only a business model for Red Hat; it’s ingrained into the DNA of the company. Because of this, Red Hatters can generally count on their co-workers understanding both the fundamentals of open source, as well as the ethos and methodologies that go with it. However, within Red Hat Services, the consulting teams often get customer questions around these topics, or hear from employees of our customers who relay things they’ve heard regarding adoption of open source within their enterprise.
So, with apologies to David Letterman, I’d like to share the Top 10 Signs Your Enterprise Doesn’t ‘Get’ Open Source. While this is meant to be a somewhat humorous look at the topic, I also think it’s an informative way to talk about improving an enterprise’s effective use of open source technologies and methodologies. I’ll break down the list not by rank order, but by three areas that customers typically encounter when dealing with open source: Consumption, Collaboration, and Creation. I’ll also put in a few thoughts about how to address each of these from an improvement perspective.