The Linux Foundation Releases First-Ever Value of Collaborative Development Report

 The total economic value of development costs of Linux Foundation Collaborative Projects estimated at $5 billion

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., September 30, 2015 – The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux and collaborative development, today announced the immediate release of its first ever report that attempts to measure the estimated value of development costs in its Collaborative Projects. The report is titled “A $5 Billion Value: Estimating the Total Development Cost of Linux Foundation’s Collaborative Projects.”

Linux Foundation Collaborative Projects are independently funded software projects that harness the power of collaborative development to fuel innovation across industries and ecosystems. More than 500 companies and thousands of developers from around the world contribute to these open source software projects that are changing the world in which we live.

“Over the last few years every major technology category has been taken over by open source and so much opinion has been shared about the proliferation of open source projects, but not about the value,” said Amanda McPherson, vice president of developer programs and CMO at Linux Foundation, and co-author of the report. “As the model for building the world’s most important technologies have evolved from the past's build vs. buy dichotomy, it is important to understand the economic value of this development model. We hope our new paper can help contribute to that understanding.”

The new report’s findings are based on David A. Wheeler’s proven COCOMO Model, which he pioneered in 2002 to inform what became a well-regarded study that assessed the value of a Linux distribution (The Linux Foundation performed a similar assessment in 2008). It assesses the Software Lines of Code (SLOC) in a project and the estimated person years and development costs associated to produce a value of the development costs (more detail is provided in the complete report).

The new report, “A $5 Billion Value: Estimating the Total Development Cost of Linux Foundation’s Collaborative Projects,” is the first attempt to estimate the cost of how much it would take to develop the technology and understand the value these projects collectively deliver to the industry.

Using Wheeler’s model, key findings in the report include:

  • The total lines of source code present today in Linux Foundation’s Collaborative Projects are 115,013,302.
  • The estimated, total amount of effort required to retrace the steps of collaborative development for these projects is 41,192.25 person years.  
  • In other words, it would take 1,356 developers 30 years to recreate the code bases present in Linux Foundation’s current Collaborative Projects listed above. The total economic value of this work is estimated to be over 5 billion dollars.

Current Linux Foundation Collaborative Projects include AllSeen Alliance, Automotive Grade Linux, Cloud Foundry Foundation, Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Code Aurora Forum, Core Infrastructure Initiative, Dronecode, IO Visor, IoTivity, Kinetic Open Storage Project, Let’s Encrypt, Node.js Foundation, Open Container Project, Open Mainframe Project, OPNFV, Open Virtualization Alliance, OpenDaylight, openMAMA, R Consortium, Tizen, Xen Project and Yocto Project. Not all projects were included in the analysis due to a variety just becoming LF Collaborative Projects. More details are available in the complete report.

“When people have the tools and connections to collaborate on a massive scale, any problem can be solved,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at Linux Foundation. “We believe only the Distributed Genius of thousands of people working as one can solve the most challenging problems of our time. Collaboration is today’s competitive advantage.”

The report is co-authored by Jeff Licquia, software engineer at The Linux Foundation; and Amanda McPherson, The Linux Foundation’s chief marketing officer. To download the full report, please visit The Linux Foundation’s Publication’s website at https://www.linuxfoundation.org/publications/linux-foundation/estimating-total-development-cost-linux-foundation-collaborative-projects

Since 2008, The Linux Foundation has worked with the world’s leading technology companies and most talented developers to host large-scale open source projects across multiple segments of the technology industry. By spreading the collaborative DNA of the largest collaborative software development project in history, The Linux Foundation provides the essential collaborative and organizational framework so project hosts can focus on innovation and results. For more information about Linux Foundation Collaborative Projects, please visit: http://collabprojects.linuxfoundation.org/

About The Linux Foundation

The Linux Foundation is a nonprofit consortium dedicated to fostering the growth of Linux and collaborative software development. Founded in 2000, the organization sponsors the work of Linux creator Linus Torvalds and promotes, protects and advances the Linux operating system and collaborative software development by marshaling the resources of its members and the open source community. The Linux Foundation provides a neutral forum for collaboration and education by hosting Collaborative Projects, Linux conferences, including LinuxCon and generating original research and content that advances the understanding of Linux and collaborative software development. More information can be found at www.linuxfoundation.org.

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Trademarks: The Linux Foundation, Linux Standard Base and The Linux Foundation. Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds.