An Open Source New Year’s Resolution

It’s been six months since you declared your New Year’s Resolutions—so, how’s it going? How long did you stick with them? A day? A week? A month? If you’re like most people, those resolutions vanished by the time February rolled around. Good intentions are mostly just that—hopeful promises with little to show for it. Without programmatic support—such as a gym membership, a weekly appointment or someone to hold you accountable—accomplishment of the goal remains elusive.

For many companies and individuals, the promise to devote more time and energy to open source is like a New Year’s resolution—it sounds good, but rarely bears fruit. January starts strong, but then your day job takes over, and your open source community and collaboration goals get shelved. As in life, real change happens when there’s support for it and an expectation of results. Enter the Open Source Program Office.

Open Source Program OfficeIn forming an Open Source Program Office (OSPO), a company formally commits to the change; it’s a tangible investment, one with measurable goals that keeps you accountable. An OSPO can take many forms—from a loosely affiliated matrixed team from different parts of the organization to a dedicated staff directly reporting to a single leader.

Regardless of its composition, this office owns the collective open source resolution and can foster change through programmatic, organizational, technical and communications programs. With mentors, technical expertise, training, legal support and more, OSPOs help build awareness and understanding—providing insights and guidance for those new to open source. An OSPO can aid established teams with streamlined processes for compliance and contributions, best practices for “inner source” programs and a host of other community-oriented support.

The VMware Open Source Program Office enters its fourth year bolstered by a dedicated team guiding employees on both internal adoption and use as well as on external contributions and community involvement. That means delivering against the organization’s charter; VMware OSPO strives to build confident, competent, and responsible open source citizens by developing the “community” muscle and stamina. Like the personal trainer that shows up every Wednesday at 6pm, OSPO keeps the organization true to its resolution and raises the bar as goals are achieved.

To gain more insights into how organizations support open source through OSPOs and other tactics, the Linux Foundation TODO Group recently ran a survey on OSPOs and the strategy behind them. The results will be published in several weeks, so keep your eyes on the Open Source Blog for when they’re announced and be sure to share your ideas about the benefits and challenges posed by an Open Source Program Office with us on Twitter (@vmwopensource).


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