There’s an unstated implication of the whole ethic of open source software: it’s intended to be shared by a broader community. Not all software an organization may utilize, should be shared outside its own boundaries — physical or virtual. But does the existence of protections and safeguards for proprietary services necessarily remove any opportunity there may be for applying some kind of development community ethic, simply among those to whom this protected software does apply?
Capital One’s approach to this question has been to develop its own internal application framework — a platform that applies only to its own employees, but which encourages a community building approach from all its teams. Speaking with The New Stack’s Alex Williams at the last OSCON conference, Capital One senior director of software engineering Kranthi Dandamudi introduced Chassis, its internal application framework designed to promote what the company describes as an “inner source” work ethic.
“There’s needs at Capital One to collect business events for legal defensibility,” explained Dandamudi. “There’s functionality needs around making payments or balance transfers. There’s needs around skinning and theming your applications.” Dandamudi explained each of these categories as indicative of what he called “horizontal cross-cuts” — categories of functionality that apply to multiple departments.
But does an institution of Capital One’s size really need to seed its own internal “inner source” community, in order to create an application platform on its own initiative, when platforms already do exist among the broader, open source community? Put another way, if Capital One did the external sharing as well as the internal sharing, wouldn’t it have accomplished essentially the same thing the broader community has already done?
Not really, explained Capital One vice president of software engineering Margaret Mayer. Her team did investigate the possibility of external frameworks, but came to the realization that the requirements of the platform’s application consumers — which, in the company’s case, are all internal — applied to core ethics and goals of the company that no outside platform could completely address.
Learn more about Capital One’s unique approach to instilling its workforce with a special kind of “open-source-ness,” if you will, in this edition of The New Stack Makers podcast from the last OSCON in Austin.
0:59: Mayer and Dandamudi’s talk on inner source at OSCON 2017.
4:52: Why Capital One curates a strong inner source culture and community.
8:25: How the Capital One inner source community has selected its technology and recruited talent.
14:22: Where Capital One is taking Chassis in the future.
17:56: The business drivers behind open source communities and why they form.
21:30: How to change things you can measure with better evaluation of the software processes in inner source communities.
Capital One is a sponsor of The New Stack.