A Guide to Open Source Management

Open-source software is here to stay and will continue to grow in use. A recent survey conducted by Red Hat found that most IT leaders (68%) have increased their use of open source, and 59% plan on continuing this trend over the next year. Increased use of open-source software leads to a greater need for open source management.


What is Open Source Management?

An open-source management program is an organizational structure a business erects around all parts of open-source software. These programs include processes based on strategy around software selection, its approval and use, its distribution, and any necessary audits, inventories, training, employee engagement programs, and communication with the public.

Successful open source management starts with a basic, five-point strategy. This strategy represents the five fundamental goals of open source management.

  1. Always know where your open-source code is in your environment.
  2. Always be compliant with your open source license.
  3. Never use your developers to track open source software manually; it’s a waste of time.
  4. Always be prepared to react rapidly to discovered security vulnerabilities in open source components.
  5. Always align your organization’s standards with the code quality of open source libraries.

If your organization’s active strategies align with these goals, you’ll be one step closer to successful open source management.

Here are four best practices for open source management.

  1. Use automation as much as possible.
  2. Use real-time tracking and auditing.
  3. Integrate your open-source management with the SDLC.
  4. Encourage team collaboration.

Specifically, automating the discovery and capture of open source software is far more efficient than manual tracking. Automatically tracking your dependencies is a far more reliable solution. Real-time tracking and auditing allow you to check new code for compliance and security vulnerabilities automatically. Finally, different teams, like legal and IT security, need to collaborate to make sure software is being used within its license.


Challenges in Open Source Management

While open source has brought many gifts, organization’s utilizing open source software face several challenges. Here are some of the open-source software challenges faced by organizations today.

1. License compliance

This is the largest area of concern for organizations since non-compliance creates threats to organizations financially and their reputation.

2. Security vulnerabilities

Identifying security vulnerabilities is often tricky, primarily if open source software is being used within a broader application. Fixing them once identified is an enormous task.

3. Code quality

It can be easy for organizations to let their code quality slip while using open-source software. It’s imperative that code is well-maintained and that quality remains the same.

4. Scale

Tracking the use of open-source software will likely become a challenge since manual tracking takes a great deal of time and effort. This is primarily a concern for larger organizations.

5. Scheduling

Using open-source software can lead to delays in scheduling when it comes to the SDLC. Open-source software has its own development and delivery schedule, which can conflict with project schedules.

6. Programming language diversity

If your organization’s open-source software is written in a coding language that your IT isn’t familiar with, this can create problems. It’s far more difficult to identify security risks and stay compliant if your team isn’t familiar with the programming language(s) being used.


Solutions and Tools for Open Source Management

Here are some solutions and tools for creating open-source management.

1. Teams

One solution for creating open-source management is to create a cross-disciplinary compliance team. Often two teams are used to achieve the same goal: a core team and an extended team. The core team is often called the Open Source Review Board (OSRB), which comprises members of the engineering team, product team, and legal team. One member of this team is the Compliance Officer.

The extended team comprises people from across many departments and adds to the core team’s efforts. This team is not working full time on compliance, only offering assistance as needed based on requests from the core team.

2. Tools

Here are some tools that are useful when creating an open-source management program.

  1. Compliance project management tool.

  2. Software inventory tool.

  3. Source code and license identification tool.

  4. Linkage analysis tool.

  5. Source code peer review tool.

  6. Bill of Material (BOM) difference tool.

Open Source Management with Encora

Does your organization need assistance in developing an open-source management program? Perhaps there is an existing open source management program that needs some editing. Wherever your organization is on its open-source management journey, our team of software engineers is here to help. Every Encora engineer is thoroughly trained and certified in open-source management, and  are experts in its best practices. This allows them to create dynamic and successful programs for organizations like yours. We can help you develop the teams and tools you need to ensure your organization’s open-source software use is safe, effective, and compliant. Reach out to us today to get started!

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