Culture / Open Source / Software Development / Sponsored / Contributed

The Key Benefits of a Managed Open Source Approach

17 Dec 2019 1:00pm, by
Chris Grams
Chris is the head of marketing at Tidelift. Chris has more than 20 years of experience building open source technology companies, including a decade each at Red Hat and technology-branding agency New Kind, where he helped build brands such as Ansible, NGINX and Anaconda.

Tidelift sponsored this post.

In June of 2019, Tidelift and The New Stack jointly fielded a survey of professional software developers. Almost 400 people responded with thoughts about how they use open source software today, what holds them back, and what tools and strategies would help them use it even more effectively. In particular, with this survey we were interested in learning how a managed open source strategy might help developers reclaim time, speed up development, and reduce risk.

In this post, we share the last of the eight key findings. If you want to see all of the results in one place, you can download the full survey report right now at the link below.

Finding #8: The key benefits of a managed open source subscription involve maintenance, security and licensing.

In our previous findings, we’ve highlighted some of the issues developers face when using open source today. Developers love using open source, and would like to use it even more. But several important things stand in the way.

We learned that the biggest concern they have with open source is the availability of reliable support. The biggest reason why they don’t use even more open source today is because of concerns about how well components are going to be maintained into the future. We learned about how maintenance challenges are sucking up their valuable code-writing time. And we learned about the havoc that unmaintained or undermaintained and unacceptably licensed components can wreak in an organization.

So how might developers tackle some of these challenges so they can take advantage of the many benefits of open source, and use it even more effectively in their organizations?

One answer is by employing a managed open source strategy. Managed open source provides a way to help organizations better manage all of the open source software they use, ensuring it is up to date, secure and well maintained, while providing standard commercial assurances like support under a service-level agreement and intellectual property indemnification (you can learn more about the approach to managed open source Tidelift takes here).

We explained managed open source as a concept to our survey respondents in order to understand which of the key benefits of a managed open source approach were most appealing to them.

Key benefits of managed open source chart

While all of the benefits were seen as worthwhile by respondents, the most valuable should come as no surprise to those who’ve read the previous survey results because they directly address many of the challenges developers face when using open source components.

The most valuable benefit of a managed open source subscription is that it helps ensure that open source packages are well maintained into the future. Three-quarters of respondents agreed that this benefit is either high value or extremely high value.

The most valuable benefit of a managed open source subscription is that it helps ensure that open source packages are well maintained into the future.

This is followed closely by ensuring that open source packages are secure, with 74% rating this benefit as either of extremely high value or high value. This is also the benefit with the most ratings for extremely high value (38%).

The third most valuable benefit of a managed open source subscription is around ensuring components have a license that is acceptable to the organization, with 59% of respondents reporting this as either extremely high value or high value.

Companies with more than 1,000 employees are much more likely to think all elements of a managed open source subscription are valuable, but security stands out with 56% reporting that it is extremely valuable.

The evidence from this survey is clear. Developers are eager to make even better use of open source components. But there are critical issues around maintenance, security and licensing that stand in the way and need to be addressed.

A managed open source strategy can solve many of these issues, making it easier than ever for developers to expand their use of open source, improve their confidence in the open source they use and get time back to focus on the important work that really drives their business.

Want the full survey results in one report? Get them here now.

About this Survey

The 2019 Tidelift managed open source survey was conducted from June 24 through July 7, 2019. Participants were contacted via Tidelift and The New Stack email lists and social media. We screened respondents to make sure they use open source to build applications at work, and the full survey sample was 369 respondents.

Thanks to The New Stack, and in particular TNS Head of Research Lawrence Hecht, for helping analyze and produce these findings.

Feature image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay.