Tag Archives: open source

Open Source Strategies

Open Source Strategies

Some comments to my recent post entitled ” Open Future “and some notes on the last LinuxCon allow me to retrieve an entry from 2009,” Understanding technology management in the era open source “, which talked about how to manage technology companies in the current scenario.

No, open source does not necessarily mean a company to “release it all and release it already”, as some pretend to fully understand simplistically. Sectarianism and quasi-religious visions of little help topic in a topic that things are far from black and white. The term open source describes a set of practices in production and development of software tools that promote access to the source code of the final product, which may include – and in fact included in the vast majority of companies – a wide range of gray. Companies do not always release all, or immediately, or in the same way.

The important issue, as I said in my post in 2009, is to understand how traditional philosophy fits the vision of the company based on resources ( Resource-based view of the firm ) is studied in all business schools, interpreted as “jealously protect specific sources of competitive advantage” in an environment like this, where it has been convincingly demonstrated, as stated Allison Randal ( Technical Architect of Ubuntu), that ” free software is a model primarily higher for software development.”

The literal interpretation of the Resource-based view of the firm tends toward a technological management based on secrecy in hiding outside of anything that could be considered a competitive advantage. This misinterpretation of the theory has led to several generations of managers obsessed with security, industrial espionage, with the “copy me”. As I mentioned in that entry a few years ago, “they see a company as a place that should reign absolute secrecy, and often fall into the stereotype of looking at communities of open source development as a kind of hippies communists responding to different schemes to theirs and that under no circumstances can you trust.”

Conversely, stereotypes can also act. Some developers of free software companies are like a bunch of opportunists who use parts of its code or use communities for support, but do not return to those communities that gave birth and naturalized to the products they use. And in both cases, of course, there is everything: no naive, exploited, shameless, smart and intelligent. There are positive, negative and neutral statements. And that precisely is the meaning of the word “strategy”.

Open Source Strategies

One of the things I tried to demonstrate in the penultimate paragraph of my recent post was that, today, it was very difficult to find the name of a major company in the world of technology along with the words “open source” and not finding no regard own page. This shows that, no less, is the need for all the companies of open source strategy, a series of guidelines to manage and understand what is going to be how they act in the current technological environment. Today, companies use technology.

Some create it, others acquire it, others obtained from different sources and adapt to a greater or lesser degree … and in that sense, you have to stop doing things in terms of fashion, timely availability or opportunities, and start them strategically. Cases such as IBM, that after focusing and services possible to obtain a greatly superior to its research and development performance through a careful strategy that allocates resources to open source, are extremely interesting.

Apple, let us as we say, is a similar case: not open all your code, but uses and returns a very substantial part, while other parts of their products (notably, the parts related to the user interface) remain strictly proprietary software. Google does the same, and like them, many others. Each day more, a substantial part of the competitive advantage that a company is able to obtain the technology depends on how open source strategy works.

Open Source Strategies

How does this fit into the vision of the company based on resources? Simply understanding that property as a resource. For a business, the ability to release their software and that you get the right level of care instead of falling in absolute skepticism and forgetting, can be a vital resource.

On SourceForge, the world’s largest repository of open source projects, there are over three hundred thousand projects, but few keep a really significant activity. That is, very few get the community so surely when they tried to get up there. Unlocking code is a very difficult task: for nothing is simply “publish a paper,” but demands quality monitoring, documentation and extra work so that code can actually be used or improved by the community that not all companies are willing to undertake.

Understanding how community development work, maintain a position and a good sense in them, choose which projects or what resources work in them, to know what to expect or appreciate what communities are more active than others and how that affects, for example, the choice of development tools or staffing issues … in many cases, beyond today to the traditional understanding of the technology responsible for a significant number of companies.

As it says Marten Mickos, CEO for many years MySQL, “any company with a technology strategy needs an open source strategy.” The supremacy of the philosophy of open source as a development methodology, to this day, is perfectly obvious. Now, for many, lack integrate it as a part of the business strategy: those who are more advanced in their understanding of being able to get great competitive edge. And business schools, of course, already tried this kind of topics are a significant part of the agenda that managers must learn to get along when they leave the classroom.

Government transparency and open source

Government transparency and open source

Estonia is, with a population of 1.3 million inhabitants, one of the smallest states of the European Union. It is a highly developed country with the highest per capita income of all the former Soviet republics, with a high and increasing score on the Human Development Index, and highly valued in terms of civil liberties, press freedom, economic freedom and education.

Moreover, it is one of the most wired countries considered in Europe and one of the leading world leaders in the development of open government and e -democracy. In the period 2000-2004, the Estonian government considered strategically invest in the development of network usage, and organized an adult education initiative funded by the private sector nationwide who managed to educate over a hundred thousand people, 10 % of the population, with rates of sustained internet use after the course of more than 70%. All Estonian schools are connected to the Internet, and students can view their grades, attendance, access content classes and homework, or final evaluations of teachers about their work.

Government transparency and open source

Since August 2000, the executive cabinet meetings take place in paperless sessions using a system of databases connected by the network, and can also be accessed in the Internet and in real time to a description of the costs incurred by the state. The electronic voting system based on electronic identity, the year of its inauguration in 2005, attracted 1.9% of the voters, was used in the last parliamentary elections in 2011 for 25% of the population.

The last step? Clear all possible doubt and help improve the system. And to that end, there’s nothing like opening the code. Two days ago, the entire server application used to manage e-voting code is available on GitHub (not the client side, to avoid giving too many facilities to the possibility of creating fake customers).

By posting the code, the Estonian government expected that any programmer can test it, find potential issues, vulnerabilities or security flaws, and above all, try the full transparency of the process (an auditing system will ensure that the software used in Election matches available in the repository).

A clear case of security through transparency, not of darkness. The opposite of what happened with Diebold machines used in the United States, precisely because it ended up being a secret development actors of all kinds of problems and controversies. No, it’s not the same managing elections in a country of 1.3 million inhabitants that over one hundred million, but clearly, the United States chose the wrong procedure.

Electronic voting systems are not at all simple. Your design should ensure that no one can falsify the result of the vote, they can only vote for that eligible citizens that their vote is counted only once, each voter can prove definitively that their vote has been placed correctly, a auditor to verify the integrity of the process, malicious participants can not disrupt or contaminate the results of the vote can be properly isolated and that nothing can link a voter with his vote, and that a voter can not prove to a third party which voted (to prevent vote selling).

Government transparency and open source

In the case of Estonia, a voter may vote as many times as you like during the period the vote is open – between the tenth and the fourth day before the election – and only count the last vote cast, even if it has been done in person. With this method it is put control in the hands of voters, making it difficult to be forced to vote for a particular option forced or sell their vote (as it would have a chance to change it later).

With the open sourcing, Estonia not only improves confidence in the system, it can be a reference for those countries seeking to build a similar system. In Spain, one of the pioneers in the deployment of electronic ID, there would be the possibility of developing technology. But obviously, not everything depends on technology: transparency is essentially a will, a desire to do things a certain way. In our country we are, sadly, to something else.