The benefits of using open source software are now well established. Managers cite shorter product development cycles and faster time to market, reduced engineering and development costs, and better relationships with customers and business partners, among many other advantages.

Open source technology creates a competitive advantage for the companies that use it. It's no longer economical for one company to create its own infrastructure, such as a new database, operating system, or Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), from scratch. "Why would they? Instead they build atop the shared research & development (R&D) investment of an entire industry," says Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of The Linux Foundation.

Companies are shedding commodity software development and investing in "external R&D," using open source projects as a base on which to build their own tailored software. They're also beginning to understand that to keep pace with fast changing markets they need not only to use open source software, but to participate in its development.

The Linux Foundation supports its member companies through every step of open source involvement, helping them to navigate the world of open source communities and enabling them to begin using open source software, contribute code to the projects, influence their technical direction, and initiate their own projects. 

four stages of open source participation graphic

This paper provides an overview of corporate open source participation as well as seven best practices, gleaned from years of collaboration with open source leaders, that will help companies make the most of their open source investment.

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