Want to succeed in open source? Get an external R&D department, says Linux Foundation

Jim Zemlin
Zemlin urges execs to look outside of their organisation

Organisations need an external R&D department if they are to successfully identify, develop and integrate open source software, according to Linix Foundation Executive Jim Zemlin.

Speaking at the OpenStack Summit in Paris, Zemlin said that organisations need more software than they alone can write, and should find "faster and cheaper" ways to create software that allows them to "truly differentiate".

He said: "The top 10 tech companies in the world spend around 4 billion dollars on research and development, and that's largely internal spend, but what's interesting is that 80% of the code in their products comes from outside the organisation from projects like OpenStack.

"The question is: if you're getting most code from outside your organisation, how are you managing your external R&D?"

New Skills

Zenlin added that organisations are moving from "a bit of open source usage at the edge of the network" to "strategic use" and need to learn new skills in order to collaborate on open source software projects.

He said: "It's important to understand how to pick the right projects and intellictual property frameworks, coding styles, and collecting and integrating that code into the organisation, improving it to make changes and then giving them back to the central project to create proudcts and services cycles both for companies and open source projects.

"It's an importnat thing for all companies to master. If you don't have an external R&D at your organisation, you should start doing that right now. The question to ask is whether you are ready for the next open source blockbuster."

Kane Fulton
Kane has been fascinated by the endless possibilities of computers since first getting his hands on an Amiga 500+ back in 1991. These days he mostly lives in realm of VR, where he's working his way into the world Paddleball rankings in Rec Room.