Women Who Code (WWCode) is a global non-profit dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers. While software development is one of the fastest growing job sectors in the global economy, it’s also one that’s notorious for being predominantly male. Organizations like Women Who Code aim to change that through advocacy, education, mentorship, and awareness.
Since 2011, WWCode has connected over 80,000 women globally, produced 4,200 free technical events in 20 countries, and awarded over $1,000,000 in educational scholarships and tickets.
This Saturday, April 29th, WWCode will be hosting their annual Connect event featuring a variety of speakers including VMware’s own, Dr. Meng Chow. Meng’s topic: Open Source – Compliance, Quality, and Viability. Meng is a Program Manager in VMware’s Open Source Program Office.
Earlier this week, we caught up with Dr. Chow as she gave her thoughts on the event, the open source world, and other things.
Meng, tell us a little more about the talk you’ll be giving on Saturday at Connect.
Dr. Meng Chow: The title of Saturday’s presentation [at the Connect event] is “Compliance, Quality, and Viability”. And really, I think the idea here is looking at what we do inside VMware and then expanding some of those things to what we do in open source. As it is, open source is a natural extension of our corporate philosophy and core values here at VMware. So that’s the backdrop of why I want to talk about open source at Connect.
I want to really share the great things we are doing at VMware in open source. Complying in terms of open source licenses is something we take very seriously – and on top of that, also bringing quality and viability into consideration.
How do you talk about these values, and the importance of open source?
Open source, as you know – it’s important for any development strategy. It reduces development cost, it helps accelerate time to market because you don’t have to build everything yourself or start from scratch, and it gives you a shorter release cadence to release products much faster. On top of that, you have all these passionate users from the community coming together to share ideas. And that is absolute total grounds for innovation.
When people think about open source, people think free. You use it at no cost. It’s like free beer. In my talk, I want to set the stage and ask, “What is so successful about open source and why does it open all these new possibilities for us?”
Really, the answer to that – the philosophy behind open source is the freedom to access new technology. It’s free as in freedom, not free beer. You have a community of users that come together – where everybody can participate, nobody owns exclusive rights to the code – and that shared development by users is what contributes to the richness of the software, in terms of new features, and new versions in open source.
I also want the attendees to know – with great freedom, comes great responsibility. There are implications and consequences that come with open source, especially when you include it in your product. I’ll be talking about support, license compliance, and business alignment.
That’s a great point. When people think open source, they think it’s free from any license obligations. The word free often gives the implication as if there are no restrictions or things you need to be concerned about – and that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are always licensing considerations to be aware of and be compliant with, and understand the different variations of an open source license to make sure those variations and licenses are aligned to your business objective. Users need to be aware of that before they go into open source and wrapping that into their software. If it’s not compliant, you’re going to run into big problems.
Absolutely. Not just on the legal side, but in terms of how you support it on your own. There are plenty of ramifications that can pop up if you’re not careful. Then there the big thing around security vulnerabilities – how do you make sure you can take care of them? With open source, anyone can get involved. It’s like a playground for security engineers, where all these vulnerabilities are discovered. When something gets discovered, you must have the infrastructure to pull in those updates, make sure it gets to your product. That’s something we take to heart at VMware – being very clear about communication. Getting hot fixes to the product team and make sure those happen in a timely fashion.
One of the key takeaways here, is that the product quality is dependent on the quality of the open source software. The quality of the open source software is dependent on the open source project. Additionally, choosing the right components is key to the viability of the project. I’ll finish my presentation with a discussion on the framework VMware uses to assess viability of open source software.
Last, but not least Meng, what do you see as the primary value for attendees of WWCode Connect?
VMware is very strong in terms of participating in these inclusion activities and making sure women have a voice in the industry. Women Who Code is certainly one of those forums that allows women to get together, to share ideas, to share best practices. It excites me to be a part of the Connect 2017 conference and help inspire the next generation of women engineers.
The Women Who Code Connect 2017 is on Saturday, April 29th, in San Francisco, California. You can get tickets by clicking here.