​How companies can make the most from open source

It's 2017, and some people still don't understand why open source is vital for business and how to really make the most of it. The Linux Foundation and its corporate partners are ready to explain it to you.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Is open-source software really free?

At The Linux Foundation's Open Source Summit, Jim Zemlin, executive director of The Linux Foundation, announced new programs to help businesses get the most from open source: Open Source Guides for the Enterprise. Using open-source programs is only the start.

Zemlin said that for enterprises to make the most from open source they need to participate in creating open source: Unfortunately, "Organization still don't know how to be a participate."

"Today all software development is influenced by open source," Zemlin said. "Just as projects are looking to create communities to sustain them over the long term, corporations are seeking to better understand how they can work with and contribute to open source. The new guides will help more organizations directly engage for the benefit of the broader community."

That's easy to say, but how do you do it? The Linux Foundation has released the first six of a series of Open Source Guides for the Enterprise, These are meant to help executives, open-source program managers, developers, attorneys, and other corporate decision makers learn how to really leverage open source.

These were developed by The Linux Foundation in collaboration with the TODO Group. This is an open group of companies that want to collaborate on practices, tools, and other ways to run successful and effective open-source projects and programs.

The initial guides cover:

  • Creating an Open Source Program by Chris Aniszczyk of Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Jeff McAffer of Microsoft, Will Norris of Google, and Andrew Spyker of Netflix.
  • Using Open Source Code by Ibrahim Haddad of Samsung Research America.
  • Participating in Open Source Communities by Stormy Peters of Red Hat and Nithya Ruff of Comcast.
  • Recruiting Open Source Developers by Guy Martin of Autodesk, Jeff Osier-Mixon of Intel, Gil Yehuda of Oath, and Ruff.
  • Measuring Your Open Source Program's Success by Christine Abernathy. of Facebook, Chris Aniszczyk and Joe Beda of Heptio, Sarah Novotny of Google, and Gil Yehuda.
  • Tools for Managing Open Source Programs by Chris Aniszczyk and and Jeff McAffer.

"The first set of open source guides draw on the experience of dozens of members of the TODO Group, who have provided invaluable open source knowledge to this project," said Chris Aniszczyk, executive director of the Open Container Initiative, a Linux Foundation project. "The work that went into producing these guides will benefit countless individuals and organizations that are looking to improve their open source program practices."

That includes you. Look at that list of guide authors. These are the top tier of technology companies. If open source is good enough for Google, Facebook, Intel, and Microsoft, don't you think it's good enough for your business?

Additional guides are planned for release. All the current guides are available on GitHub and The Linux Foundation website.

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