Glancing Back: A 2020 Review of VMware’s Open Source Evolution

What a decade last year has been. Though we felt trapped by circumstance and pandemics, suffering from the march from Sameday to Sameday with an unsettled feeling that progress ceased, reality was quite the opposite. At VMware, the pace grew ever more torrid. Spring kicked off with Open Source Summit, and KubeCon – both retooled for a virtual experience. SpringOne, Linux Plumbers, another Open Source Summit, All Things Open and KubeCon round two kept us all in top form. On the project front, VMware built more than 151 new projects, ranging from strategic technology to smaller projects inspired by individual curiosity and ingenuity. I used to be able to hold all the top projects in my head – and I cannot do that any longer. While we’ve made great strides as a company, I know that the road ahead is full of possibilities. (Want a peek? Take a look at Darren Hart’s blog).  

Keeping Track

For the second consecutive year, VMware co-sponsored a study conducted by The New Stack, a media and research company, along with the Linux Foundation TODO group to measure the impact of concerted, directed efforts of companies to guide OSS use and to gauge the perception of companies participating in the open source community. The results indicated that VMware’s efforts do not go unnoticed. Our engineers continue to contribute code but they also contribute technical expertise and community management behind the scenes. In the Cloud Native Computing Foundation Kubernetes ecosystem, you’ll find VMware employees taking on a variety of roles beyond code committers. VMware employees lead more than 10 Special Interest Groups, participate on the Technical Oversight Committee and are frequent contributors to workshops and events. 


Beyond Kubernetes, systems work abounds in the world of Linux. Steven Rostedt’s blog about the 5.8 release underscores the importance of good, solid work in the operational layer and how when done well, it’s No Big Deal. It was largely due to the hard work they did at the onset of defining how to operationalize and manage the Linux kernel. This has made subsequent releases, that should be arduous and cumbersome, rather simple and easy to apply. The unsung work in the background, creating a healthy framework has made a difference. In many ways this can be analogous to the VMware Open Source Program Office. The operational best practices, mentorship, tooling and program/project management helps to form a foundation upon which an open source project or its community can scale efficiently and with as little friction as possible.


A look back at 2020 brings to mind several milestone moments for VMware and open source.  Certainly, the biggest among them, was the Pivotal family rejoining VMware bringing with them a treasure trove of software projects and notable community leaders. The wealth of talent, new voices, new technology and new ideas certainly put a spring in my step. (Ah-hem, yes, I did that.) Read more about the Boomerang Back and the return of Pivotal open source projects to VMware. 


A number of projects that VMware is focused on have been accepted by or are sponsored by the Cloud Native Computer Framework (CNCF). Contour, Buildpacks and TUF are among those CNCF projects where VMware is demonstrating its maturity and understanding that Good Open Source Community Citizenship Continues to Matter. Community leaders such as Dawn Foster, are spearheading new ways for all of us, inside and outside of VMware to think about and measure health, risk, transparency and governance of open source projects. 


The bill of materials open source project, Tern, is nearing its 3.0 release. Ever more critical to a secure software supply chain, the momentum is growing both within its own community and that of Automated Compliance Tooling. The project participated in its first Google Summer of Code, SPDX and completed its first ACT working group

SALT and SaltStack

Bubbling with nothing but promise and energy, the Salt team joined VMware, bringing streamlined multi-cloud coordination from the infrastructure to the application. But that’s not all. Founded in open source, Salt, Pop, Tiamat and Idem all bring with them a legacy of principled and community-spirited collaboration. The energy, ideas, people and community added an instant burst of spice to our day.

What’s Next?

A nap, perhaps. 

We’re excited to look forward to 2021 and will be talking about that later this week. From significant projects like Carvel and Pinniped that hope to make Kubernetes as boring as Linux to new projects like Herald, there’s so much in front of us. Code commits are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to open source. There’s a whole lot of behind the scenes work to happen for a project and its community to thrive and be successful. In the meantime, the VMware OSPO team will continue to coach, mentor, lead, contribute and learn – all towards the goal of building a strong foundation of open source expertise and citizenship. 


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