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    6 Tips for Leveraging Open Source Technology

    To understand the impact that open source technology has made on the enterprise, one need only look to the numbers. With over 35 million GitHub repositories, 1,961,460 lines of code on Hadoop and over a thousand Apache Spark contributors, the open source ecosystem is home to some of the world’s most innovative and impressive tech collaborations. With some of the biggest names in tech leading the charge — Apple’s Swift programming language, IBM’s machine learning technology SystemML and Facebook’s Relay JavaScript framework were all made public in the past year — open source technology is set to change the way we process, stream and analyze data.

    In this slideshow, IBM VP of Big Data and Analytics on z, Dinesh Nirmal, and IBM VP of Offerings, Big Data and Analytics, Ritika Gunnar, outline several tips to help enterprises make the most of their open source strategy.

    6 Tips for Leveraging Open Source Technology - slide 1

    Making the Most of Open Source Tech

    Click through for tips organizations can use to get the most from their open source strategy, as identified by IBM VP of Big Data and Analytics on z, Dinesh Nirmal, and IBM VP of Offerings, Big Data and Analytics, Ritika Gunnar.

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    Create a Long-Term Contribution Strategy

    The success of open source projects depends on companies providing long-term tools and solutions, so try not to invest in isolation. There are several questions to ask during the planning process: What problem is being solved by this contribution? What are the long-term implications for the business? Will the project exist under the same terms year after year? Establishing your own code of conduct before taking an internal project public will help set clear expectations and goals. You’re bound to run into issues eventually, so be sure to document everything, from setup instructions to troubleshooting to the code of conduct.

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    Familiarize Yourself with the Open Source Community Guidelines

    An open source contribution isn’t as simple as it seems — enterprises can’t simply open up source code to the public and forget about it. The open source community abides by a code of conduct similar to your internal one. The Open Source Initiative has outlined specific criteria every contribution must meet and established a set of rules for offerings and licenses. Failing to comply with these protocols could damage a company’s reputation within the open source community, and could even result in legal consequences.

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    Focus on Quality over Quantity

    Enterprises in the open source community aren’t judged by the number of projects they contribute, but rather by how well their contribution solves a common developer problem. This may seem obvious, but open source developers will gravitate toward software that is flexible, scalable, and easy to use, so be sure to have good “code hygiene.”

    Insecure open source contributions are instant reputation killers, so testing code for bugs before releasing it to the community (and regularly after that) is imperative. If you don’t have access to an internal security research team, several security prevention and detection tools are available, like OpenVAS and Black Duck Software.

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    Commit to Education

    Learning is a pillar of the open source ecosystem. Online education programs like Coursera and Udacity allow developers at every level to hone their skills with specialized courses and certification programs, while removing the barriers of time, cost and location. Developers and even curious non-coders have access to courses from some of the best universities around the world, and the topics range from machine learning to Python 101. Sponsoring an online education program, similar to IBM Big Data University or AWS Educate, is a great way to increase presence in the developer community and cultivate the next generation of developers.

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    Don’t Be Afraid to Rely on Partners and Peers

    Open source is all about teamwork, so approaching your open source strategy with a collaborative mindset is essential. The most successful open source leaders have strong networks of partners, solution providers and business leaders. Associating your organization with reputable peers will increase the validity of your open source contribution. Partners can also serve as valuable resources and examples of lessons learned, especially if it’s your first foray into the open source ecosystem.

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    Emphasize Authenticity and Empathy

    To resonate with the open source community, an organization must be authentic. Rather than adopting an “everybody’s doing it” mentality, set out to solve a specific developer problem with your open source contribution.

    The open source community has no borders; anyone with access to the Internet can contribute to a project. Working in such a diverse ecosystem requires tolerance and empathy. Encourage your team to read articles by developers in other countries and maybe even work on their basic language skills. This will help foster a more collaborative and cohesive working environment.

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