The Whiteboard

Why Open Source Has Become Essential to the Enterprise

Thirty-one years after the initial release of Linux, open source software (OSS) — a testament to the power of co-innovation — has become an indispensable part of almost all enterprise software, including VMware’s. Part of the beauty of open source is that it fuels innovation by allowing developers to focus on what’s next, without having to rebuild components that already exist. Why create another scripting language or JavaScript runtime when there are bigger fish to fry? Leveraging common open source components and foundational building blocks frees us to create something new.

Open source communities excel at developing and growing software that solves complex, universal problems — and not just those related to enterprise software. From finding missing persons with the OSINT framework to the Novel Coronavirus Visual Dashboard operated by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering (see the repo), OSS has proven to be one of the most effective ways we can work together towards the common good.

Powered by contributions from the world’s most brilliant and collaborative minds, to use OSS is to stand on the shoulders of giants. What’s more, as the ultimate equalizer, OSS invites you to become a member of this community. That’s why at VMware, we strive to give more than we get from the OSS community — and not just in the form of code (though we contribute lots of that, too!). You’ll encounter our employees in a variety of community roles: as release managers, project maintainers, special-interest group and event leaders, community advocates, and CFP reviewers.

At the corporate level, VMware is a member of more than 15 different open source foundations, from the Green Software Foundation to OpenSSF. As a respected leader in enterprise software and cloud infrastructure, VMware embraces the opportunity to address ubiquitous technology challenges and to help solve the world’s most pressing problems. For example, Rose Judge, an Open Source Engineer and a co-maintainer of Tern, recently delivered a keynote presentation at this year’s Open Compliance Summit regarding updates to the Automating Compliance Tooling (ACT) Project (Rose chairs ACT’s Technical Advisory Council). And the Herald Project (initiated by Adam Fowler at VMware and now part of the Linux Foundation for Public Health), received a UK Technology of Year Award from Open UK at the end of 2021.

In short, the OSS community, with its diversity of ideas and perspectives, plays a quiet but critical role in almost every facet of modern society. They say that the flywheel of innovation spins faster in open source. We agree — and we’re here to ensure that it stays that way.

Do you contribute to OSS? How and why? Let me know your thoughts in the comments and check out VMware’s awesome Open Source Blog.




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