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Culture / Open Source

eBay: Betting on Open Source Is Great for Your Business

When using open source tools, developers get up to speed more quickly, and they also get the benefit of community contributions that uncover bugs and add features.
Nov 14th, 2022 10:00am by
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eBay benefits from using a great deal of open source code, and we’re not alone. Modern apps are estimated to be built with upwards of 90% open source code. But the collaboration of open source doesn’t stop there. We have multiple organizations (both our internal dev tools organization as well as our data and cloud infrastructure teams) who work on open source code as a central function of their job.

Our contributions are not altruistic. Betting on open source is a great business decision. We’ve seen that when using open source tools, developers get up to speed more quickly due to already having exposure to things like React, Kubernetes, Docker and more. We also get the benefit of community contributions, which uncover bugs and add features for us.

Where eBay Sits in Open Source Contributions

eBay started building open source tools back in 2011 by working turmeric, a service-oriented architecture framework. Since eBay Chief Technology Officer Mazen Rawashdeh joined in 2016, we’ve increased our adoption of open source.

This occurred at all layers of the stack, including a recent migration to open source networking hardware. In 2022, we open sourced at least 15 new repositories, spanning multiple areas of interest from UI components to high-performance C++ data structures to complex Java workflow engines.

It’s not just about contributing new code, but also about improving the existing ecosystem’s code. Earlier this year, we improved Apache Maven’s dependency resolution algorithm, which resulted in a 70% reduction in build time. Those savings weren’t only limited to our app but garnered positive feedback from the Alibaba Group as well.

We’re also a central contributor to “OpenFeature,” a library that seeks to provide a common client for a very busy vendor space.

eBay did some analysis in 2020 around which feature-flagging solution to purchase, and we ultimately decided to build our own. In an effort to de-risk this bet, we’ve partnered with multiple other companies to build an open standard, called OpenFeature. In that process, we’ve authored the bulk of the Java client, and we are actively deploying it internally for production workloads. This project is housed under the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, which serves as a “safe zone” for multiple vendors to coordinate in without having to jockey for ownership rights.

These contributions back to the community are critical for the success of our company. At eBay, we like to say that we connect people and build communities to create economic opportunity for all.

This is a central tenant for how we run our business. Freely contributing to the fantastic open source offerings allow us to build connections with folks doing outstanding work in our field. Beyond that, eBay’s scale allows us to see problems that other companies may not have run into yet. We’ve certainly benefited from the learnings and software from other hyperscale companies like Google, Facebook and more!

At eBay, we see open source as a growth area for our company. We are dedicated to increasing our contributions to existing open source solutions and have been directly giving to open source causes that we think are critical to the ecosystem. We look forward to deepening our relationship with the broader ecosystem, and we are eager to see broader corporate participation.

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