Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

Eclipse Authors: XebiaLabs Blog, Ken Fogel, Sematext Blog, Marcin Warpechowski, Trevor Parsons

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud, Eclipse, Apache, Cloud Security

Open Source Cloud: Article

Leveraging Open Source and Avoiding Risks in Small Tech Companies

The benefits of open source software usage can be realized and the risks can be managed at the same time

Today's software development is geared more towards building upon previous work and less about reinventing content from scratch. Resourceful software development organizations and developers use a combination of previously created code, commercial software, open source software, and their own creative content to produce the desired software product or functionality. Outsourced code can also be used, which can contain any of the above combination of software.

There are many good reasons for using off-the-shelf and especially open source software, with the greatest being its ability to speed up development and drive down costs without sacrificing quality. Almost all software groups knowingly, and in many cases unknowingly, use open source software to their advantage. Code reuse is possibly the biggest accelerator of innovation, as long as open source software is adopted and managed in a controlled fashion.

In today's world of open sourced, outsourced, easily searched and easily copied software it's difficult for companies to know what is in their code. Any time a product containing software changes hands there is a need to understand its composition, pedigree, ownership, and any open source licenses or obligations that restrict the rules around its use by new owners.

Given developers' focus on the technical aspects of their work and emphasis on innovation, obligations associated with use of third-party components can be easily compromised. Ideally, companies track open source and third-party code throughout the development life cycle. If that is not the case then, at the very least, they should know what is in their code before engaging in a transaction that includes a software component.

Examples of transactions involving software are: a launch of a product into the market; merger & acquisition (M&A) of companies with software development operations; and technology transfer between organizations whether they are commercial, academic or public. Any company that produces software as part of a software supply chain must be aware of what is in their code base.

Impact of Code Uncertainties

Any uncertainty around software ownership or license compliance can deter downstream users, reduce ability to create partnerships, and create litigation risk to the company and their customers. For smaller companies, Intellectual Property (IP) uncertainties can also delay or otherwise threaten closures in funding deals, affect product and company value, and negatively impact M&A activities.

IP uncertainties can affect the competitiveness of small technology companies due to indemnity demands from their clients. Technology companies need to understand the obligations associated with the software they are acquiring. Any uncertainties around third-party content in code can also stretch sales cycles. Lack of internal resources allocated to identification, tracking and maintaining open source and other third-party code in a project impacts smaller companies even more.

Along with licensing issues and IP uncertainties, organizations that use open source also need to be aware of security vulnerabilities. A number of public databases, such as the US National Vulnerability Database (NVD) or Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) database, list known vulnerabilities associated with a large number of software packages. Without an accurate knowledge of what exists in the code base, it's not possible to consult these databases. Aspects such as known deficiencies, vulnerabilities, known security risks, and code pedigree all assume the existence of a software bill of materials. In a number of jurisdictions, another important aspect to consider before a software transaction takes place is whether the code includes encryption content or other content subject to export control - this is important to companies that do business internationally.

Solutions
The benefits of open source software usage can be realized and the risks can be managed at the same time. Ideally, a company using open source software should have a process in place to ensure that open source software is properly adopted and managed throughout the development cycle. Having such a process in place allows organizations to detect any licensing or IP uncertainties at the earliest possible stage during development, which reduces the time, effort, and cost associated with correcting the problem later down the road.

If a managed open source software adoption process spanning all stages of a development life cycle is not in place, there are other options available to smaller companies. Organizations are encouraged to audit their code base, or software in specific projects, regularly. Some may decide to examine third-party contents and the associated obligations just before a product is launched, or in anticipation of an M&A.

Internal Audits
The key is having an accurate view of all third-party content, including open source software, within the company. One option is to carry out an internal audit of the company code base for the presence of outside content and its licensing and other obligations. Unfortunately, manually auditing a typical project of 1000-5000 files is a resource- and time-consuming process. Automated tools can speed up the discovery stage considerably. For organizations that don't have the time, resources or expertise to carry out an assessment on their own, an external audit would be the fastest, most accurate and cost effective option.

External Audits
External audit groups ideally deploy experts on open source and software licensing that use automated tools, resulting in accurate assessment and fast turnaround. A large audit project requires significant interactions between the audit agency and the company personnel, typically representatives in the R&D group, resident legal or licensing office, and product managers. A large audit project requires an understanding of the company's outsourcing and open source adoption history, knowledge of the code portfolio in order to break it down into meaningful smaller subprojects, test runs, and consistent interactions between the audit team and the company representatives.

Smaller audit projects, however, can be streamlined and a number of overhead activities can be eliminated, resulting in a time and cost-efficient solution without compromising details or accuracy. An example would be a streamlined machine-assisted software assessment service. The automated scanning operation, through use of automated open source management tools, can provide a first-level report in hours. Expert review and verification of the machine-generated reports and final consolidation of the results into an executive report can take another few days depending on the size of the project.

The executive report delivered by an external audit agency is a high-level view of all third-party content, including open source software and the attributes associated with them. The audit report describes the software code audit environment, the process used, and the major findings, drawing attention to specific software packages, or even software files and their associated copyright and licenses. The audit report will highlight third-party code snippets that were "cut and pasted" into proprietary files and how that could affect the distribution or the commercial model. This is important for certain licenses such as those in the GPL (GNU Public License) family of OSS licenses, depending on how the public domain code or code snippet is utilized.

A report can significantly reduce the discovery and analysis effort required from the company being audited, allowing them to focus on making relevant decisions based on the knowledge of their code base.

Conclusion
Third-party code, including open source and commercially available software packages, can accelerate development, reduce time-to-market and decrease development costs. These advantages can be obtained without compromising quality, security or IP ownership. Especially for small companies, any uncertainty around code content and the obligations associated with third-party code can impact the ability of an organization to attract customers. Ambiguity around third-party code within a product stretches sales cycles, and reduces the value of products and impacts company valuations. For small organizations, an external audit of the code base can quickly, accurately and economically establish the composition the software and its associated obligations.

More Stories By Lacey Thoms

Lacey Thoms is a marketing specialist and blogger at Protecode, a provider of open source license management solutions. During her time at Protecode, Lacey has written many articles on open source software management. She has a background in marketing communications, digital advertising, and web design and development. Lacey has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications from Carleton University.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
With the proliferation of connected devices underpinning new Internet of Things systems, Brandon Schulz, Director of Luxoft IoT – Retail, will be looking at the transformation of the retail customer experience in brick and mortar stores in his session at @ThingsExpo. Questions he will address include: Will beacons drop to the wayside like QR codes, or be a proximity-based profit driver? How will the customer experience change in stores of all types when everything can be instrumented and analyzed? As an area of investment, how might a retail company move towards an innovation methodolo...
Consumer IoT applications provide data about the user that just doesn’t exist in traditional PC or mobile web applications. This rich data, or “context,” enables the highly personalized consumer experiences that characterize many consumer IoT apps. This same data is also providing brands with unprecedented insight into how their connected products are being used, while, at the same time, powering highly targeted engagement and marketing opportunities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nathan Treloar, President and COO of Bebaio, will explore examples of brands transforming their businesses by t...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of streaming data in the cloud with an enterprise grade SLA. It features built-in integration with Azur...
A producer of the first smartphones and tablets, presenter Lee M. Williams will talk about how he is now applying his experience in mobile technology to the design and development of the next generation of Environmental and Sustainability Services at ETwater. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lee Williams, COO of ETwater, will talk about how he is now applying his experience in mobile technology to the design and development of the next generation of Environmental and Sustainability Services at ETwater.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Micron Technology, Inc., a global leader in advanced semiconductor systems, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Micron’s broad portfolio of high-performance memory technologies – including DRAM, NAND and NOR Flash – is the basis for solid state drives, modules, multichip packages and other system solutions. Backed by more than 35 years of technology leadership, Micron's memory solutions enable the world's most innovative computing, consumer,...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies leverage disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevOps to advance innovation and increase agility. Specializing in designing, imple...
While many app developers are comfortable building apps for the smartphone, there is a whole new world out there. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Narayan Sainaney, Co-founder and CTO of Mojio, will discuss how the business case for connected car apps is growing and, with open platform companies having already done the heavy lifting, there really is no barrier to entry.
As more intelligent IoT applications shift into gear, they’re merging into the ever-increasing traffic flow of the Internet. It won’t be long before we experience bottlenecks, as IoT traffic peaks during rush hours. Organizations that are unprepared will find themselves by the side of the road unable to cross back into the fast lane. As billions of new devices begin to communicate and exchange data – will your infrastructure be scalable enough to handle this new interconnected world?
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes about through a Communications Platform as a Service which allows for messaging, screen sharing, video...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IceWarp will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IceWarp, the leader of cloud and on-premise messaging, delivers secured email, chat, documents, conferencing and collaboration to today's mobile workforce, all in one unified interface
The Internet of Things (IoT) is about the digitization of physical assets including sensors, devices, machines, gateways, and the network. It creates possibilities for significant value creation and new revenue generating business models via data democratization and ubiquitous analytics across IoT networks. The explosion of data in all forms in IoT requires a more robust and broader lens in order to enable smarter timely actions and better outcomes. Business operations become the key driver of IoT applications and projects. Business operations, IT, and data scientists need advanced analytics t...
Akana has announced the availability of the new Akana Healthcare Solution. The API-driven solution helps healthcare organizations accelerate their transition to being secure, digitally interoperable businesses. It leverages the Health Level Seven International Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (HL7 FHIR) standard to enable broader business use of medical data. Akana developed the Healthcare Solution in response to healthcare businesses that want to increase electronic, multi-device access to health records while reducing operating costs and complying with government regulations.
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner, Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., discussed the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conducted a live demonstration of how quickly application development can happen when the need to comply wit...
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
MuleSoft has announced the findings of its 2015 Connectivity Benchmark Report on the adoption and business impact of APIs. The findings suggest traditional businesses are quickly evolving into "composable enterprises" built out of hundreds of connected software services, applications and devices. Most are embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) and microservices technologies like Docker. A majority are integrating wearables, like smart watches, and more than half plan to generate revenue with APIs within the next year.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, d...