In 2004, the National Cancer Institute funded an open source project to supply biobanks with organizational storage systems for biological samples like blood and plasma. Funding stopped in 2010; however, information technology company, Krishagni Solutions stepped in, toyed with the software, and then created a successful version of it, called OpenSpecimen, which can organize thousands of biomedical samples by type, age, consent, collection, distribution and request. Although the company has found much success with its product and could easily profit from its sale, the CEO, Srikanth Adiga, swears by the collaborative nature of open source technology and refuses to make his product proprietary.
As a prime example of its benefits, OpenSpecimen has been used in the healthcare industry to great effect. For instance, medical researchers use it to search databases for specific information, such as, let’s say, the health risks of 45- to 55-year-old men with a history of diabetes. The software can sift through data using multiple factors, such as age, disease and gender, to provide specific samples. The software makes sample searching easy and quick, which, in turn, improves workflow within hospitals and research centers.
Krishagni Solutions was able to take the software, originally funded by the National Cancer Institute, and share it with a global marketplace for the good of all takers and their industries. Adiga credits open source for making the software code available for free so that the world can benefit from it.
What’s more, Adiga is still able to profit from the product by providing installation and configuration assistance to those who download OpenSpecimen. In essence, the product is free for all to use, but the extra know-how that some users need is where Krishagni makes its dollars.
Adiga’s mindset is not uncommon in the world of open source software development, as many developers embrace the notion that others can benefit from their work. This idealistic focus continues to fuel innovative and collaborative projects such as OpenSpecimen. To read more about how the healthcare industry is embracing open source, read our recent whitepaper.
Valve, the U.S.-based video game company, altered the gaming field with the 2013 release of its operating system (SteamOS) and Steam Machines, which are hardware platforms for playing computer video games. SteamOS, which was created with Linux, the open source platform, allows smaller gaming companies, such as Alienware, CyberPowerPC and Webhallena, to create unique gaming systems (Steam Machines) by utilizing Valve’s open source operating system. This enables them to compete with large competitors such as Microsoft and Sony.
Valve began to ship prototypes of its Steam Machines to select users shortly after its release. In 2014, SteamOS became available to the public for download. As of Nov. 10, 2015 Valve made three of its Steam Machines platforms available for consumer purchase, making them some of the only open source gaming platforms widely available. Consumers can choose among the Stream Machines products based on size of the console, quality and performance. The variety guarantees a system for every type of player. The Syber Steam Machine (one of the three models available), for example, offers users instant access to any game title, while the Alienware Steam Machine comes with a library of 1,000 HD (1080 pixels) games. And the ZOTAC NEN Steam Machine is a much smaller, sleeker and lower-performing machine for cost-conscious gamers.
When developing any product it is essential to have a clear idea of exactly what is in the software portfolio. Gaming developers also recognise that there are many Intellectual Property issues to be aware of when creating these new gaming packages. It can sometimes be difficult to establish as snippets of reused code can quickly disappear unaccounted for leading to license compliance issues. Valve’s release of Steam Machines is a perfect example of the benefits that can be derived from open source. Developers and gamers alike can take matters into their own hands and create gaming systems using SteamOS as a base. This innovation and collaboration from open source is what allows industries such as gaming to continuously grow.
Software code is becoming increasingly complex. Today's average high-end vehicle requires close to a 100 million lines of code to operate while Facebook requires just over half that. That’s a lot of code.
To meet this demand, many software developers are leveraging open source to complete projects in a timely manner. This is prescient, as 40 percent of developers are saying they are behind schedule on certain projects. Using open source is a time-saver for developers, supplementing their own code creation, reducing development costs and allowing them to focus on their core business. This inherently supports the ultimate goal of developers—who are going through the sometimes repetitive and laborious process of writing code—to cost-efficiently speeding up development without a dip in quality.
This is accomplished through the collaborative nature of open source. Many developers feel the desire to give back to fellow developers as many of them benefit from open source; so, they donate their time to working on additional projects. In a recent survey conducted by Stack Overflow, it was found that 23.2 percent of developers contribute five to ten hours per week to open source projects. What’s more, 12.5 percent contribute 10 to 20 hours and 9.5 percent log more than 20 hours per week (out of 16,522 total respondents). Developers were even asked why they contribute to open source for free, by Business Insider tech reporter, Matt Weinberger, on Twitter. Some of the top responses included; “I use open source code all the time, only feels right to give back too,” and “for the same reason I occasionally buy a coffee for the next person in line #PayItForward.”
However, with so many hands on deck, the code must be managed properly. Projects completed through open source are often managed and watched over by a lead developer to ensure that quality is safeguarded. Furthermore, open source code development is inherently faster than proprietary code creation, as more developers contributing to a project engenders faster turnaround.
Further protections include the laws regulating open source for software development. Failure to adhere to these will result in fines and penalties—not to mention wasted time. In short, your code development efforts must be managed properly. This means keeping records on how, why and when code derived from open source is used. Doing so will speed up the auditing process; which can take a while as auditors must sift through an inordinate amount of code and regulations. However, another solution to speeding up the process is an automated software analysis of code. This is ideal for developers who are in a rush as an automated audit is quick, efficient, accurate, yet still comprehensive.
While there are regulations that need to be followed, it’s no accident that Gartner predicts that 95 percent of companies will be using open source by the year 2017 as it accelerates development while reducing costs. The only stipulation is that organizations use proper code management as part of their open source software adoption process so that open source can be leveraged optimally.
To learn more about Protecode's solution for automated software composition analysis click here.
Developing an innovative new piece of software is undoubtedly an exciting and fulfilling process that involves a company identifying a developer who is qualified, knowledgeable and who can successfully bring the company’s idea to fruition. In other words, companies trust their developers to make their fundamental software concept a reality.
For most companies, various budgetary or time constraints (or often both) can create pressures on the software development process. Perhaps the organization cannot afford to hire a developer to create the software using proprietary tools. In this case it’s not unlikely that such organizations would partner with a developer who would then utilize open source—a universally accessible model that offers developers worldwide access to a product’s design or blueprint— to aid in the software production and development process.
Reusing code from open source projects or even reusing entire projects is an acceptable and encouraged practice in the industry, as long as it is understood that although these projects are in the “public domain”, they are copyrighted, and their usage is governed by licenses issued by the copyright holders.
Developers use open source for a few reasons:
Increase Speed Supplementing your proprietary software with code similar to what you’re looking for is a norm among developers nowadays.
Reduce Costs Companies that use code from open source significantly save on costs since much of the code they are using is from other developers, which is readily available on the Internet. This is a common practice among developers but must be accompanied by a sound open source adoption plan and by integrating open source management tools into the software development cycle.
Maximise Flexibility With open source, the code is able to be altered over a period of time as opposed to proprietary software, which is typically “set and done” upon being finished.
However, if a company’s desired piece of software is meant to be proprietary, then developers who utilize open source should be careful as there can be stringent patent and copyrights associated with open source. While open source still reigns supreme when it comes to innovative, collaborative and efficient software development, being aware of open source software compliance is critical as to not compromise the end product.
For example, certain copyrights for open source code may require more than the company is willing to wager. So, if a developer wants to save some time by utilizing a block of code that he or she has found, then whatever he or she has created using that piece of code is now available for others to copy, modify, publish and distribute. In other words, that piece of software developed using open source is now available for anyone to tap into.
In order to prevent this from happening to your organization, there are a few steps you can take…
1) Educate: Ensure the software developer you are using is thoroughly familiar with open source rules and regulations.
2) Organize: If the developer does use open source, ensure the individual has kept trackof all code used and how it has been used. Organizations that use an automated open source compliance tool can efficiently streamline this process and reduce risks. This is particularly important for when you…
3) Audit: It’s important to know where your code has come from and, as such, the possible liabilities associated with it. There are many bits and pieces, so to speak, that come with using open source. A thorough audit will ensure that everything from crediting the original author to making the original license available is properly in check.
Open source represents ample opportunity for developers worldwide; however, it is extremely important to be aware of what is going into your code. To learn more about how Protecode can efficiently and effectively audit your code, click here.
The lack of women in the computer science field is not a new development. In fact, only 30 percent of the 707 students studying computer science at Stanford University are female. But the tide may be turning as women are beginning to make their presence known in the open source world.
Case in point, the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women conference on October 14, 2015 was hosted by Carol Willing, the director of the Python Software Foundation. The highlight of the event was the Open Source Day Code-a-thon. Those who attended were able to make their very first contribution to an open source project, with help and guidance from Willing. The project was hosted by OpenHatch, a not-for-profit organization that provides education and Web-based learning tools for open source coding. The project included a system to help organize volunteers and teach them about open source tools and how to contribute to future projects.
Another example of women entering the computer science field is Patricia Torvalds, the 18-year-old daughter of famed Linux founder Linus Torvalds. As a student at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering, she most recently finished up an internship at Puppet Labs—an IT automation software developer—in Portland, Oregon. Despite her father’s strong background in computer science, it was Torvalds’ high school that helped lay the foundation for her future growth in the field. She started with a Web design internship her sophomore year in high school, then took an engineering class and, ultimately, taught a class with a fellow classmate called “Exploratory Ventures.”
Now, Torvalds is out of high school and on to college, but her focus remains with computer science. The younger Torvalds believes that women and other diverse groups of developers need a safe space to interact, as she said in an interview with opensource.com. She admits to having heard misogynistic and racist comments in open source forums. To attract a more diverse group of developers, Patricia has spoken out about how she feels open source communities should be held to a higher standard.
While there are still barriers for women and other diverse groups within the computer science realm, the essence at the core of the open source community is collaboration. And with women like Torvalds and Willing embracing software development, the door is open wider to women and other underrepresented groups—further ensuring that open source is truly open to all.
As open source technology becomes more prominent in our world, schools are forced to keep up; what was brand new just a decade ago is surely outdated nowadays. Because of rapid technology adoption, teachers are now preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist. Indeed, students need to be exposed to the new tools available that enable them to create and collaborate using open source tech. In an effort to further the reach of computer science in classrooms across the world, Code—a not-for-profit organization started in 2013—is dedicated to providing students and teachers with the knowledge and tools they need to stay current in the computer science field.
Additionally, GitHub—the open source platform giant—has been making its way into schools as well. GitHub’s education liaison, John Britton, is responsible for bringing GitHub into colleges and school systems alike in hopes of empowering teachers with better tools to teach students how to code. According to Britton, from an article published on Wired.com, more than 3,000 teachers have already begun to utilize GitHub as a teaching tool. Since GitHub is an open source platform, students and teachers can actually collaborate on school-oriented projects. It’s as easy as a teacher sending a single URL to his or her students and having them click on it to enable modification and collaboration of the code.
With the increasing prevalence of computer science jobs and open source software development, student exposure to the tools of these trades is fundamental to supporting our nation’s growth in these areas. As well, what better way is there to open a student’s mind than with open source?
Open source software development continues to follow the theme of innovation and collaboration. It enables the sharing of code among users, empowering developers to bring new products to market faster and with greater ease. For example, it allows industries such as healthcare, finance and, now, the movie industry to grow by exposing them to technology that they might not have accessed otherwise. Beyond that, it allows developers from around the world to improve upon the technology and make it their own. This, of course, can open doors for a whole host of new innovations.
To illustrate this point, let’s take a closer look at how open source is impacting the movie industry. Open source has become relevant in the movie industry on two fronts. The first being the concept of open source into movies themselves. In a recent interview with Wired, film director Colin Trevorrow acknowledged that there would be a sequel to his summer hit “Jurassic World”. Furthermore, he noted that, as dinosaurs chasing people on an island gets old fast, the new movie will have to be different, and that the concept of different entities being able to open source the dinosaurs will come into play.
In “Jurassic World,” one of the lead researchers, Dr. Wu, references open source by saying, “We’re not always going to be the only ones who can make a dinosaur.” In the movie, the ability to produce a dinosaur is proprietary but, much like real-life, technology as advanced as that does not stay secret for long.
If a movie maker as experienced as Trevorrow can ask, “What if this went open source?” expect that the rest of Hollywood won’t be far behind in taking the technology to the next level. This acknowledgment in Wired is just more proof of open source's relevance and increasing popularity.
In addition to using open source to help drive movie plots, filmmakers are also using it to create waves from a production standpoint. Apertus is a movie camera created through open source. It enables filmmakers to modify professional-level equipment to enhance how it works; they can then redistribute it.
The founders of Apertus are also producing a movie about Hollywood’s reaction to new and open technology. The filmmakers will reach out to a variety of directors, artists and tech-visionaries to get their perspectives on how open source is impacting the movie industry now and in the future. The film will hopefully further the use of open source into this industry and spark more to do the same. This is another example of how a major industry can use open source to allow all to benefit from its technology.
The digital nature of our world has created a need for more adaptable network operating systems (NOS’s). Networks handle large amounts of data every day, which has created a need for on-demand scalability. As such, HP has teamed up with a variety of supporters, including Arista, Broadcom and Intel, to address this problem and create OpenSwitch, an open source NOS. With OpenSwitch, developers can now collaborate, test new theories and innovate to develop higher-quality networks for organizations. Furthermore, these networks can be customized to accommodate specific business needs.
Traditional networks are built with proprietary software, which doesn’t allow customers or their software partners to modify their networks to their own parameters. With an open source NOS, developers can now focus their efforts on improving their businesses-specific workload needs and functions instead of spending time and energy struggling with the complex licensing structures and interoperability issues inherent with closed-off proprietary software.
While the main benefit of OpenSwitch is that it allows developers to create new applications and specific features for individual networks, it also benefits them by enabling these assets to come to fruition faster and with fewer post-release tribulations. For the simple reason that open source attracts a multitude of developer talent from around the world, projects are bound to be less problematic and completed quicker.
What’s more, from time to time, organizations may need to borrow from certain applications that allow their networks to accommodate new business practices or business strategies. Smart organisations develop a comprehensive open source software adoption process that allows them to leverage open source software in their projects effectively and ensures compliance with licenses and organizational policies. Without an open source platform, businesses can be stuck with older, less effective software that is far more difficult (if not impossible) to adapt.
Big players such as HP, Intel and Broadcom are all recognizing the importance of open source. This is a good sign that more and more technology will begin to utilize open source software, allowing for even greater innovation. OpenSwitch is just another step in the right direction, and the pace seems to be picking up...
Any doubts that one may have about the quality of code produced through open source can be vanquished for the moment—as we follow Netflix’s utilization of open source in its products. You can’t argue with the results. Since the international provider of on-demand Internet streaming began its modest DVD-by-mail service back in 1997, the company has exploded onto the global stage as the leading Internet television network, with over 100 million hours of TV shows and movies being streamed by users each day.
Much of Netflix’s success can be attributed to the open source environment that it has created for its products and services. Since Netflix began to realize the benefits of making its software available through open source, the company has released more than 50 projects for input on its Github page. And due to its open source preference, usage and success in code software development, Netflix has assisted in legitimizing open source as a powerful tool for many organizations.
Case in point, Netflix has benefitted from a quicker time to market for its offerings. Utilizing its open source page, Netflix claims it can bring a new feature to customers in just days—a process that previously took about a month. By leveraging open source Nexflix is able to accelerate time to market while managing costs. For the large projects Netflix has in the works, open source allows the company to break tasks into more manageable independent sections. This improves not only quality in the end product but in the speed of release as well.
Furthermore, Netflix has been using open source as a way to identify and hire talented software engineers; this, in turn, has attracted a large pool of talent, further enhancing the company’s skill set and its reputation as a provider of best-in-class solutions.
Utilizing open source as a shared ecosystem has allowed Netflix to flourish. With the contributions of many developers in the production of its projects, Netflix has established an excellent working model for other large companies to follow.
With the recent proliferation of open source code projects, it’s easy to see why many organizations feel that leveraging open source is the way of the future. After all, companies as prominent as Google and Intel utilize it to assist with their software development, as does financial software company Bloomberg LP. How could you not get behind a movement that promises innovation through collaboration and has some of the biggest names in multiple industries behind it? But with all this activity, little has been noted about the economic value of open source. Is it all it’s cracked up to be?
To answer this question, the Linux Foundation—an organization set up to promote and advance the use of open source—conducted a study to determine the value of its open source projects. The assessment took into consideration how much it would cost a team of developers to recreate all of the code bases in the foundation’s current portfolio.
In short, the study found a total of 115,013,302 lines of code present in Linux Foundation’s collaborative projects. It further determined that rewriting all of this code would take 1,356 developers 30.37 years at a cost of $5.6 billion dollars. In other words, open source saves this amount of time and money in technology development costs.
The study failed to factor in the time that developers save on net additions. Whenever a few lines of code are added, other lines of code have to be changed and deleted to become compatible with the newly added code. This process can be tedious and time-consuming. Automated open source compliance tools help organizations manage compliance while reducing the risk of security vulnerabilities. With more developers being involved in the production and finalization of a project, these processes must be streamlined, so developers can save even more time than already indicated.
So what is the value of open source code?
The true value of open source is bringing together great minds to collaborate, innovate and solve some of the world’s biggest problems.