Opening Code, Opening Opportunities

There’s big news coming out of KubeCon Seattle today: our team is donating a keystone project to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), ensuring that project’s longevity and success. The open source etcd project has been donated and accepted into the CNCF, a neutral foundation housed under The Linux Foundation to drive the adoption of cloud native systems.

Open sourcing code is always at the forefront of Red Hat’s goals, whether we start new projects like etcd, which has been open since it launched in 2013, or opening projects whenever we acquire software that is closed and proprietary. We have done it so many times it is second nature. We open sourced oVirt after we acquired Qumranet, Aerogear after picking up FeedHenry, and Ansible Tower after adding Ansible to our ranks. We are firmly committed to the open source model of collaboration and innovation, so when we do have closed code in our portfolio, it’s not a question of “if” we will open source the software, but generally “when.”

It may also surprise some folks that donating projects such as etcd to large vendor-neutral foundations like the CNCF is also a part of our DNA. After all, doesn’t it benefit Red Hat to remain stewards of a project and control the progress of the software in the direction they want?

The problem with a statement like that is that “control” is not the right word in any free or open source project. By being open, source code is never in any one entity’s control, whether or not it is donated to a foundation.  Instead, a better descriptor could be “influence.” When someone contributes to any project, they directly influence the direction of the project. And even then the influence is not guaranteed–others in the project have to approve the changes.

Projects benefit from this kind of collaboration, from the simple fact that diverse talents and motivations only enhance the features and strength of the software being developed.

So what’s the benefit of participating in foundations? Simply put, it’s about the building a safe and stable environment for the project. A foundation can increase the perceived level of trust that a project will always be around. One entity does not have the ability to “take its marbles and go home.”

When foundations also manage project infrastructure, there is also often a very real bottom-line savings on development costs, since these costs are shared across foundation members. Costs and resources can also be shared for marketing, events, and social media, just to name a few. And, because multiple entities are involved, just word-of-mouth impact alone for a project usually is better.

Innovation in containers and container orchestration is proceeding at a very rapid pace. Projects stewarded by foundations like the CNCF can not only provide stability and increase the use of participating software applications, they also gain the benefit of increasing innovation by enabling diverse entities to have a safe place in which to collaborate. Even more, Red Hat intends to continue its dedicated development of cloud native projects like etcd and more moving forward, and only hope to spur more innovation by working within this neutral home.  

Today join us in celebrating etcd being housed in the CNCF alongside the cloud native software ecosystem at large.

 

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About Brian Proffitt

Brian is a Senior Principal Community Architect for Open Source and Standards team at Red Hat, responsible for community content, onboarding, and open source consulting. Brian also serves on the governing board for Project CHAOSS, a metrics-oriented approach to ascertaining community health. A former technology journalist, Brian is also a graduate lecturer at the University of Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @TheTechScribe.

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