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Through VMware’s Abundance of Change, its Open Source Strategy Stands

It’s a matter of reputation. 

A reputation is an invaluable, priceless treasure. It’s something that can take years to build and mere moments to destroy. The media is rife with examples — new ones from sports, business and society dot the headlines everyday. And in open source, your reputation can make or break your community experience and success. For VMware, we know that who we are and how we interact with the community helps to build our reputation — and that this is a journey, not a race. We’re mindful of our approach, keeping community first and foremost. 

Each year we work with the Linux Foundation, the TODO Group and The New Stack to sponsor the Open Source Program Office survey. The data collected from this survey helps to inform how and where Open Source Software (OSS) usage is impacting software delivery. (You can find previous years’ surveys, data and analyses on GitHub.) In this survey, respondents are also asked about open source reputation, impact and the criteria for “good open source citizenship.” 

The 2021 OSPO Survey Results tell a story of continued growth in VMware’s open source reputation. From our initial participation in 2019 to this year’s results, respondents have noticed VMware’s investments and rewarded us with a nearly 40% gain in positive (excellent and above average) scores. VMware’s Open Source Program Office continues to provide the groundwork for healthy OSS interaction throughout our growing organization. 

The influence of open source at VMware cannot be missed — OSS can be found in every one of VMware’s products. “We value the expertise of open source leaders across the company, just as we value other key skill sets that we use when creating our solutions,” says Dirk Hohndel, Chief Open Source Officer at VMware. A key strategy in creating and maintaining a high level of open source community confidence is built into the culture at VMware. VMware OSS Developers and Project Leaders are guided by the common EPIC2 Values revered across the company. These values of execution, passion, integrity, customers and community (expressed as EPIC2 at VMware) find a home in open source as well. 

When looking at the future of VMware, what should we be looking for?

There have been a few changes at VMware this year — including a new CEO, a new organization, the Dell Spinoff and a new Multicloud Strategy Announcement. But what hasn’t changed is our commitment to engineering excellence in everything — from open source to SaaS-based solutions. The Open Source Program Office continues to lead, mentor and make contributions well beyond code, including vital roles such as release management, code reviews, conference chairs and many more “chop wood and carry water” tasks that projects need to thrive. And employees from all over VMware can be found making a difference in open source communities. Adam Fowler, maintainer of Herald, a contact tracing and bluetooth protocol open source project, continues his work as Herald takes wing in the Linux Foundation for Public Health. Nisha Kumar and Rose Judge, current maintainers for Tern, an open source project that creates SBOMs for containers, are helping to grow the project and its community. You’ll find VMware employees in the communities of SPIFFE/SPIRE, Knative, PostGres, Harbor, Kubernetes and Steeltoe to name a few.  

Open Source Credentials

As open source becomes more and more ubiquitous in enterprise settings, the reputation of the community and the enterprise behind that open source grows ever more influential. In the recent Linux Foundation Member Summit, Executive Director Jim Zemlin declared “open source won” and further, “You can’t build software without open source” — nor would you want to. And the survey points to open source credentials as a buying criteria and for vendor evaluation. Anecdotally, customers are using “open source” as a buying criteria.

In light of this shift, the 2021 survey included a new question that probed on this open source vendor evaluation interest. More than 47% of respondents claim to have used open source “credentials” to audit, select or dismiss a vendor. And yet, the objective criteria for evaluation is far from clear or consistent. There’s more work to be done in this area, but suffice to say leadership is about far more than stars, commits or number of projects. 

Stay tuned to the Open Source Blog and follow us on Twitter for more deep dives into the world of open source.


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