The benefits of open source: an overview
Open source has become pervasive in the development of software. All major technology companies and several enterprise companies not only use open source, but also leverage open source development.
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At Bosch, we have been active participants in the open source community for over eight years. We use open source software extensively in our Bosch IoT Suite. Since joining the Eclipse IoT community, we have created six different IoT open source projects and contributed to many other Eclipse IoT projects. Our participation in the open source community has become integral to our success in building high-quality, reliable IoT solutions for our customers.
There are many advantages to participating in the open source community. Let’s explore some of the key benefits that have come about as a result of our participation.
Access to free and innovative technology
We use open source technology heavily in our Bosch IoT Suite. The list of open source projects we use is extensive, including Linux, Kubernetes, various Spring components, Vert.x, Akka, as well as several projects of the Eclipse IoT stack such as Eclipse Hono, Eclipse Ditto, Eclipse hawkBit, and Eclipse Vorto. Many of these projects embody leading-edge, innovative technology that allows us to deliver successful IoT solutions for our customers. Bosch as well as other companies get free access to these projects due to the open source licenses that make these technologies freely available.
Freedom to experiment and faster proof of concepts
Open source software makes it easier for developers to experiment with new technologies. Developers don’t have to ask for permission to download and experiment on a new project. This allows for rapid prototyping and proof of concepts (PoCs). At Bosch, we run developer hackathons that encourage our developers to explore new technologies and discover how they might create better solutions for our customers. Our developers are more agile and more innovative thanks to free access to open source technology.
Community support and resources to educate developers
Many successful open source projects are backed by a community that produces tutorials, documentation, add-ons, webinars, articles, etc., on the open source technology used in these projects. These resources and the online community support forum make it easier for our developers to learn about the technology and get answers to questions, thus enabling them to become more productive with an open source project.
A better way to build software
At Bosch, open source development has made our product teams more agile and faster in their development efforts. Open source teams are typically organized into smaller, independent agile teams. The open source ethos of code-sharing and transparency increases the collaboration across project teams, speeds up knowledge transfer, and produces better quality software. The overall effect has been high-quality software developed in a shorter period of time.
Better customer interactions
Bosch is involved in six open source projects at Eclipse IoT. Many of these projects form the core feature set of the Bosch IoT Suite. Because these projects are developed in the open, Bosch customers can participate in their development. They can monitor the evolvement of new features and progress made with bugs that are being addressed. They are invited to create bug reports and contribute features to the project. Finally, they can download early releases to test them out in their own environment before they are implemented in the Bosch IoT Suite. Transparency in open source development has helped us improve the relationships we have with our customers.
Better partner collaborations
We collaborate with many different companies in the process of developing our open source projects. These partner collaborations bring different perspectives, use cases, and skill sets to the open source project team. Ultimately, this helps us create better technology for our customers and for our partners.
Open source projects encourage users to freely modify, share, and distribute the project code in accordance with the project’s license terms. For companies engaged in open source, this means they no longer have to rely on a single vendor and are no longer dependent on proprietary third-party platforms or lone players. Rather, they are organically supported by the participants of the open source community. As a result, companies can create a solid foundation and a stable future for their business.
Open source: an important pillar of software development
Software development is becoming a critical resource for almost any industry or organization. The future of software development is going to become increasingly dependent on the open source community. At Bosch, we have seen the benefits of our participation and look forward to expanding our involvement. Other companies that want to grow their software development capabilities should consider engaging with the open source community. We would certainly love to collaborate with you on open source.