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Virtual event suggestions for open source communities

Introduction

With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting every aspect of life across every population and industry around the globe, numerous conferences, events, and meetings have been canceled or postponed. The Linux Foundation events team has been working in overdrive negotiating to cancel or postpone events that were or are impossible to operate this year safely. The health and safety of our communities and staff is our top concern.

The good news is that for those events that can no longer safely take place in person, virtual events still offer the opportunity to connect within our communities to share valuable information and collaborate. While not as powerful as a face-to-face gathering, a variety of virtual event platforms available today offer a plethora of features that can get us as close as possible to those invaluable in-person experiences. Thanks to our community members, we’ve received suggestions for platforms and services that the events team has spent the past several weeks evaluating. 

After researching a large number of possibilities over the last few weeks, the Linux Foundation has identified three virtual event platforms (and a small-scale developer meeting tool) that could serve the variety of needs within our diverse project communities. Our goal was to determine the best options that capture as much of the real-world experience as we can in a virtual environment for virtual gatherings ranging from large to small. After evaluating 86 virtual event platforms, and in the spirit of contributing back, we thought we would share what we learned.

Below is the shortlist of platforms we’ve identified for our potential use, based on which offered features that best replicate our in-person events of different sizes. We’re sharing our findings because these learnings might be a good fit for others in our community, or perhaps save you time looking at options. If you’re evaluating any platform, be prepared to spend a few weeks getting conversations started with salespeople, viewing demos, obtaining pricing, and negotiating features.

Why we chose the platforms listed

There are many virtual conferencing solutions offered in the market today. Each solution varies on price, features, scalability, and technology integration points. The list of every single platform and software solution we looked at, including open source-based solutions, can be viewed here. One of these other solutions might be a better fit for your organization’s needs. 

Finding a virtual event platform, however, is also just one piece of the virtual event puzzle. How you plan, structure, and execute the virtual event will be critical to achieving a successful community engagement. We stumbled across this great Guide to Best Practices for Virtual Conferences put together by the ACM Presidential Task Force, which we thought provided some great practitioner tips for communities running virtual events. 

Our goal was to find solutions for our events team that met the following three requirements: 

    • The ability to deliver the required content
    • The ability for attendees to network and collaborate with each other
    • The ability to deliver sponsor benefits in the platform for those companies supporting these events financially

Due to these requirements, we did not focus as much on web conference solutions, such as the now popular Zoom. However, if you are looking for a simple web solution, many of the typical web conferencing platforms are easy, quick options to set up a small virtual gathering. In many cases, you might not need all the features of the virtual events platforms.

There are even some wonderful open source options out there including:

    • Jitsi Meet, which has some very useful features like streaming, screen sharing tabs, sharing videos, and more that are not found in other solutions.
    • Open Broadcaster Software if you’re looking to record and stream session content, which can also be usefully paired with conferencing tools.
    • EtherPad, which many of our communities use and it’s exciting to see that there’s also video support to connect and talk while editing.
    • Big Blue Button that’s designed for teachers and students, but open source for anyone to use (and we know many of you have kids at home and might find this useful).

Linux Foundation virtual event platform shortlist

These tools are designed for medium to large events with multiple concurrent tracks, in-depth attendee networking and collaboration needs, and robust sponsor requirements. The pricing for each of these will depend on the specific event details, such as number of conference tracks, the number of chat rooms/attendee collaboration spaces, length of the event, number of attendees, and number of sponsor booths.

All of these event platforms (with the exception of QiQo Chat) have all the following standard functionality:

    • Web-based (HTML5) supporting Linux desktops/browsers (and also Windows and Mac)
    • Registration integrations that will comply with GDPR and privacy regulation requirements
    • Webhooks or REST APIs to integrate with security systems like SSO (Auth0) and SFDC.
    • Can be white labeled for your community’s event branding
    • Speaker Q&A chat available within sessions
    • Attendee networking capabilities
    • Integrated scheduling tools and agenda builder
    • Attendee analytics: booths visited, session attendance, etc.
    • Gamification options to drive attendee engagement
    • Pop-up notifications throughout the platform (‘Keynotes starting in 5 minutes!’, ‘Visit [Sponsor’s] booth’)
    • Guaranteed uptime, redundancies and autoscaling

inXpo Intrado

Best for large events with high budgets requiring a virtual conference experience with few compromises.

InXpo Intrado has robust hosting capabilities and uses hyper-scale cloud providers for its infrastructure to provide highly reliable and resilient performance. The company uses its own platform for session broadcast and integrates with third-party CRM and registration platforms. It offers 3D virtual environments throughout the platform as well as robust attendee networking options and sponsor benefits, including virtual booths. 

Benefits:

    • Extremely customizable, very immersive event experience. 3D environments & virtual booths (VR representation of physical world exhibit hall that looks like a video game)
    • A good user interface for attendees to access all content
    • No limit on concurrent sessions or live sessions so you will not have to worry about maxing out session/attendee capacities on this platform
    • The solution provider uses its own network infrastructure backbone that is fault-tolerant enough to support 98% of 911 call centers in the US
    • Real-time translation and closed captioning capabilities without requiring third-party platforms or plugins
    • Works from within China — used by Chinese companies to run in-country virtual events
    • Extra layer of attendee privacy protection with optional ‘pop up’ message for attendees to confirm before sponsors can gather any information about the attendee

Additional Considerations:

    • One of the most expensive platforms we evaluated
    • Potential longer turnaround time needed for event onboarding and setup
    • Sponsor booth templates are customizable for a fee
    • Does not allow you to plug in your own open source video streaming/video conferencing solution

MeetingPlay

Best for any size event where attendee networking tools are a priority and sponsor ‘booths’ aren’t required.

This platform can accommodate events of all sizes but does not have a 3D virtual exhibit hall/booth capability. That said, the sponsor benefits built into this platform are robust, and they have excellent attendee networking capabilities. You can use Meeting Play’s own integrated video conferencing solution for content delivery, or use your own. 

Benefits:

    • Heavy focus on “attendee” experience
    • AI-driven content, chat room and attendee suggestions — based on initial questions you can customize and ask of all participants
    • Allow for gated content with in-app registration upgrade options (freemium model) similar to offering a free “hall pass” and then requiring a higher registration to attend sessions
    • Sponsor pages are very robust offering sponsors the ability to chat 1:1 with attendees, show videos/demos, sharing resources, and more
    • Option to use MeetingPlay integrated video streaming solution, or the one of your choice via your own account
    • Works from within China — they support a number of customers in China and have virtual machines in-country that they use to test before going live for an event

Additional Considerations:

    • No 3D virtual exhibit hall or booth — sponsors receive a dynamic page that allows for real-time chat with attendees, downloadable resources, and a video player for demos or welcome videos
    • Looks more like a website rather than a virtual event
    • Only 2 concurrent live sessions at a time w/out additional fee. They recommend pre-recording most sessions and playing “simulive” (meaning it is played at a specific time, and speakers join real-time to do a text-based Q&A.) The platform has a limit of 8 concurrent live sessions at any one time
    • Collaboration spaces (used for sponsor booths, attendee ‘meeting rooms’ and any live sessions that have multiple speakers or require a two-way communication) are charged by the hour and by the number of attendees, which makes using these freely a bit difficult

QiQo Chat

QiQo is best for smaller technical gatherings that don’t need all the bells and whistles of an industry event focus. This is a great option for a focus on small group collaboration, such as developer meetings and hackathons.

QiQo acts as a Zoom wrapper for attendees collaboration and session broadcasting and is ideally suited for smaller events that have a more narrow focus, where communication and collaboration needs are more back and forth, versus one-way delivery. One unique feature of QiQo is it offers the ability to collaborate on Google Docs and Etherpad as both are both integrated into QiQo’s interface. 

Benefits:

    • Inexpensive
    • An affordable option for small meetings that only need an elevated video conferencing option for collaboration. Each live event on Qiqo comes with 10 Zoom breakout rooms by default
    • Great for small group collaboration in multiple workspaces – as a Zoom wrapper, it creates more of a virtual environment around an event with multiple breakout rooms for discussions
    • Includes a large number of built-in integrated tools for collaboration and productivity: Slack, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Etherpad
    • While Zoom is their default, their support team will work with you to set this up with Jitsi or another video conferencing solution of your choice
    • Works from within China depending on webcasting platform availability

Additional Considerations:

    • Simple Zoom wrapper to add collaboration features on top of Zoom – can be used with other video conferencing tools as well
    • Very limited sponsor elements
    • A little more challenging interface and workflow than other options — a lot of options, but definitely let ‘out of the box’
    • Minimalistic approach for collaboration

Conferencing platform feature comparison

Conferencing platform feature comparison

Screenshots gallery

Conclusion

With over 40 events remaining this year under the Linux Foundation umbrella of events, we have several conferences that might go virtual. Each of these will have different requirements, so to support our diverse communities, we needed a range of options and features. We do think that this portfolio of options together meets most of our various community needs, and we hope you find value in us sharing them, along with the list of all the other platforms we examined.

FINOS Joins the Linux Foundation

Introduction

This week we are excited to announce that FINOS, the Fintech Open Source Foundation, is joining our Linux Foundation community of projects. With critical financial services projects under its stewardship, FINOS has become the hub for open collaboration in the financial services industry. FINOS serves similar needs to other vertical industry communities at the Linux Foundation, such as the Academy Software Foundation focused on the motion picture industry, Automotive Grade Linux focused on the automotive industry, and others. With FINOS at the LF, we are excited for the many cross community collaboration opportunities. 

What is FINOS and What Challenges is it Helping Financial Services Firms Address?

FINOS’  purpose is to accelerate collaboration and innovation in financial services technology through the adoption of open source software, standards and best practices.

FINOS is composed of over 30 member organizations, developing software and standards for data and data technologies, cloud services, financial desktop applications, and more. It is unique among open source foundations in that it is an open community for financial services and fintech firms to address unique industry challenges, as opposed to being horizontal across industries.

Financial services firms face unique obstacles to open source collaboration, including legal & regulatory concerns, internal policies, cultural friction, and heavily restricted technology environments. FINOS is a path to working outside corporate boundaries with others in the industry that are trying to solve the same problems.

In order to more efficiently leverage open source, FINOS supports its members every step of the way starting with its Open Source Readiness Project, providing guidance and tools for financial services participants new to open source. 

In addition to providing reference guides and policy templates that financial organizations may use in adopting open source software, FINOS provides tools that include frameworks and underlying shared code for creating the foundational backbone & infrastructure, middleware, data and application layers for open source financial applications. 

To assist in the consumption of these tools, FINOS also runs regular readiness meetings to help financial services organizations discuss common challenges, share successful experiences and more broadly prepare for the adoption of open source software.

Why Does the Financial Services Industry Need Open Source Software and Organizations Such as FINOS? 

As with other vertical industries, the financial services industry can realize the same benefits by adopting open source technologies. This is achieved by reducing overall total cost of ownership by sharing the development of common software components and underlying technology infrastructure through mutualization — this allows financial services and fintech firms to quicken their time to market for their services and product offerings and improve overall software quality. 

Having a broader pool of developers working on open source financial software enables financial services companies to attract and retain talent from a larger pool. Embracing open source software also allows IT stakeholders and decision-makers in financial services organizations to de-risk software investments by reducing vendor lock-in, and fostering internal and external re-use of software components. 

Additionally, open software and open standards can dramatically simplify workflow integration and improve interoperability between financial institutions, counterparties, and even regulators. This increases firms’ ability to meet rapidly changing client and regulatory needs more quickly and seamlessly.. Ultimately, FINOS seeks to create a “build once” approach to many aspects of financial technology solutions and leverages its community experts and active board-level engagement  from a wide range of prominent leaders within finance. 

Finally, it enables financial and technology firms working in this space to learn about high-value and industry-wide business challenges that can inform and validate product and project roadmaps.

FINOS Project Highlights

The value of FINOS is expressed through its many programs and services, which include, but are not exclusive to these open source software and open standardization projects:

The FINOS open source software project landscape. Image Credit: FINOS

The FINOS open source software project landscape. Image Credit: FINOS

FDC3: Launched in 2017 by OpenFin in collaboration with major industry participants, FDC3’s mission is to develop specific protocols and taxonomies to advance the ability of desktop applications in financial workflows to operate in a plug and play fashion, without prior bilateral agreements. Under the neutral FINOS umbrella, and now the Linux Foundation, FDC3 is now widely adopted and has received contributions from several banks, buy-side firms, consultancies, and financial technology vendors.

A sample FDC3 application.

A sample FDC3 application. Image Credit: FINOS

Plexus: Contributed to FINOS in 2017 by Deutsche Bank and developed in the open as part of its production Autobahn platform, Plexus defines an open standard for desktop application interoperability with a container-agnostic reference implementation. This enables seamless workflows between independent apps developed by different organizations in different technologies. The project aims to be a fully documented open standard and open source platform designed to connect thousands of different applications from across the financial services industry, enabling banks’ and clients’ systems to talk to each other. 

Perspective: Initially developed by JP Morgan’s trading business, Perspective is an interactive Web Assembly based data streaming and visualization component for large, real-time datasets. It comes with a suite of simple context-aware visual plugins for D3FC and Hypergrid, an integration with Jupyterlab, and runtime modules for the browser, Python, and Node.js. Perspective is a mature, production-ready library with a highly engaged community that is now increasingly used in production environments and is contributed to by FINOS institutional member organizations.

A sample Perspective application.

A sample Perspective application. Image Credit: FINOS

Alloy: Set to be contributed to FINOS by Goldman Sachs later in 2020, the Alloy workbench and the underpinning Pure language offer an advanced modeling environment to explore, define, connect and integrate data into financial business processes. Although it can help firms address internal challenges the greater benefit comes from the huge potential for the industry to share, collaborate and standardize on common data models for trading, instrumentation, regulatory reporting and more. A pilot is currently ongoing among major banks and documentation is available at alloy.finos.org.

Cloud Service Certification: Originally contributed to FINOS by JP Morgan who was working internally on building infrastructure as code controls to meet its own cloud deployment regulatory requirements, the Cloud Service Certification was created with the rationale that most banks were undergoing similar efforts — thus the benefits of mutualization could be extended to not only technology implementation, but also on regulatory interpretation, as well. The overall goal of the project is to build commonly interpreted BDD-style tests to verify regulatory compliance of cloud services for Cloud Service Providers (CSP) in order to build test implementations that can be used to prove the regulatory worthiness of cloud services on an ongoing basis. Several firms involved in the Cloud Service Certification include JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, UBS, Red Hat, Wipro and ScottLogic, and FINOS is actively recruiting new banks and vendors to participate.

Waltz: Developed by Khartec Ltd and FINOS Platinum Member, Deutsche Bank, Waltz was created to help large organizations understand their application environment in a consistent, well-documented, easily digestible format, and to address complex enterprise architecture data organizational issues often encountered in their overall technology landscape. Waltz shows where applications reside, what they do, and how they are connected. Waltz has been used to assist with key performance metrics, data lineage, regulatory responses, and application rationalization/migration programs. 

A sample Waltz data model for a large enterprise environment

A sample Waltz data model for a large enterprise environment. Image Credit: FINOS

Why is FINOS Joining the Linux Foundation?

FINOS has grown significantly in the last two years, bringing greater awareness of open source to the financial services industry and in turn increasing the level of collaboration amongst industry participants. Joining the Linux Foundation will help FINOS accelerate this engagement even more. With common core values and highly compatible systems of governance FINOS will be able to take advantage of increased scalability and mutualization that only being part of a much larger foundation can provide, particularly through the Linux Foundation’s extensive support program offerings including but not limited to training, certification and events management. 

As with the Linux Foundation which acts as a neutral party for open source projects of all types, FINOS provides a neutral space for fintech firms to build open solutions with its projects and platforms in a neutral forum. At the Linux Foundation, FINOS will be able to continue sponsoring projects with strong disruption potential in a traditionally locked-in and proprietary industry, and will continue to permit frictionless engagement between financial services developers who are actively contributing to FINOS in full compliance. 

FINOS currently uses a governance by contribution model which enables them to be operated transparently and independently under the oversight and steering of its board of directors. This is in direct alignment with the Linux Foundation’s “do-ocracy” model where responsibilities are attached to people who do the work rather than elected or selected by some identified decision-maker. Likewise, the Linux Foundation’s projects also operate transparently and independently, and each community develops its own operational guidelines that serve to create a working technical collaboration. 

As with the Linux Foundation, FINOS has projects that are organized into thematic programs which provide easy discoverability, and federated governance over its community. 

FINOS already hosts over a hundred collaborative projects that are contributed to by its members, external companies and individuals. 

As its communities continue to scale, FINOS will need additional support staff and the abilities of an experienced, larger umbrella organization to help it achieve its goals. The toolsets and procedures, fundraising support, and overall entity management which FINOS will inherit as a result of joining the umbrella of the Linux Foundation will help them continue to scale their programmatic efforts for many years to come.

“In less than two years FINOS has become the go-to foundation for open source collaboration in financial services. With this sector’s focus on technology-driven solutions, we feel the time is right to bring our two communities together to enable the next stage of innovation for our projects,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at the Linux Foundation. “We look forward to working with Gab, the FINOS team and its members as we together chart the future of global financial services collaboration.”

“FINOS has achieved tremendous growth across our project portfolio thanks to our 35 members and wider community,” explained Gabriele Columbro. “The FINOS community’s passion and dedication to applying open source practices to address concrete, pressing topics — in areas such as cloud computing, financial modeling, desktop interoperability, messaging, tooling, and data technology — has established the transformative potential of open source within financial services. We are thrilled to join forces with the Linux Foundation to accelerate this growth and welcome an even more diverse set of members and projects under the FINOS umbrella.”

The TARS Foundation: The Formation of a Microservices Ecosystem

Introduction

During the 1960s and 1970’s, software developers typically used monolithic architectures on mainframes and minicomputers for software development, and no single application was able to satisfy the needs of most end-users. Vertical industries used software with a smaller code footprint with simpler interfaces to other applications, and scalability was not a priority at the time.

With the rise and development of the Internet, developers gradually separated the service layer from these monolithic architectures, followed by RPC and then Client/Server.

But existing architectures were unable to keep up with the needs of larger enterprises and exploding data traffic. Beginning in the middle of the 1990s, distributed architectures began to rise in popularity, with service-oriented architectures (known as SOA) becoming increasingly dominant.

In the mid-2000s, microservices began to appear, and a set of popular frameworks based on microservice architectures were developed, with TARS appearing in 2008. After being used at scale and enhanced for 10 years, TARS became a Linux Foundation project in 2018.

Interest in microservices has grown exponentially, as demonstrated by search trends on Google

Figure 1.  Interest in microservices has grown exponentially, as demonstrated by search trends on Google.

Introducing the TARS Foundation

Today, on March 10th, 2020, The Linux Foundation is excited to announce that the TARS project has transitioned into the TARS Foundation. The TARS Foundation is an open source microservice foundation to support the rapid growth of contributions and membership for a community focused on building an open microservices platform.

A Neutral Home for Open Source Microservices Projects

The TARS Foundation is a nonprofit foundation that focuses on open source technology that helps businesses embrace microservices architecture as they innovate into new areas and scale their applications.

It will continue to support the TARS project by growing the community that has been operating under the Linux Foundation since 2018. The Linux Foundation offers a neutral home for infrastructure, open governance, and community engagement support, aiding open source microservices projects to empower any industry to turn ideas into applications at scale quickly.

The TARS Foundation is working on addressing the problems that may occur in using microservices, including reducing the difficulties of development and service governance. It seeks to solve multi-programming language interoperability, data transfer issues, consistency of data storage, and ensuring high performance while supporting massive requests.

The TARS Foundation wishes to accommodate a variety of bottom-up content to build a better microservice ecosystem. It will include but will not be limited to, infrastructure, storage, development framework, service governance, DevOps, and applications based on any programming languages.

It Begins With a Mature Microservice Framework

The modern enterprise is in need of a better microservices platform for their modern applications to support development through DevOps best practices, comprehensive service governance, high-performance data transfer, storage scalability with massive data requests, and built-in cross-language interoperability (e.g., Golang, Java, C++, PHP, Node.js).

In support of these growing requirements, the TARS project provides a mature, high-performance RPC framework that supports multiple programming languages developed by Tencent (0700.HK). Since the initial open source contribution by Tencent, many other organizations have made significant contributions to extending the platform’s features and value.

The TARS Project Microservice Ecosystem

Figure 2. The TARS Project Microservice Ecosystem.

TARS can quickly build systems and automatically generate code, taking into account ease of use and high performance. At the same time, TARS supports multiple programming languages, including C++, Golang, Java, Node.js, PHP, and Python. TARS can help developers and enterprises to quickly build their own stable and reliable distributed applications in a microservices manner, in order to focus on business logic to effectively improve operational efficiency.

The advantages of multi-language support, agile research and development, high availability, and efficient operation make TARS an enterprise-grade product out of the box. TARS has been used and refined in Tencent for the past ten years and has been widely used in Tencent’s QQ and WeChat social network, financial services, edge computing, automotive, video, online games, maps, application market and security, and other hundreds of core businesses. The scale of microservices has reached over one million nodes, perfecting the practice of the industry-standard DevOps philosophy and Tencent’s mass service approach.

Why Should Projects Choose The TARS Foundation?

Joining the TARS Foundation will provide member organizations and projects with the following benefits:

Community Engagement
  • The TARS Foundation will host a constellation of open source projects. Members of the TARS Foundation will leverage many programs to engage with project ecosystems and share their ideas and use cases.
Thought Leadership
  • Members of the TARS Foundation will be able to network and help shape the evolving microservices ecosystem.
Marketing Amplification and Brand Awareness
  • Members can broaden their project’s reach and awareness in the community with TARS Foundation marketing programs.

As the TARS Foundation has been created to develop and foster the open microservices ecosystem, it will establish different functional mailing lists to support its user communities.

The TARS Foundation will also establish a series of mechanisms for the incubation and development of new projects. After a project has agreed to join the Foundation, the appropriate incubation and maturation route will be tailored according to the project circumstances.

After meeting all incubation requirements, the TARS Foundation will announce the project’s graduation. In addition to providing a technical oversight committee and a user community, the governing board will look after these projects by reviewing each project’s unique situation, providing strategic decisions, and assisting with their overall development.

Partner Commitments to the TARS Foundation

The TARS Foundation aims to empower any industry vertical to realize their ideas with their implementation of microservices. To date, TARS has worked with many industries, including fintech, e-sports, edge computing, online video, e-commerce, and education, among others.

As a result of over a decade of industry leadership in developing open microservices projects, many companies from different industries, such as Arm, Tencent, AfterShip, Ampere, API7, Kong, and Zenlayer, have committed to and have joined The TARS Foundation as members and partners.

Tencent

TARS has been developed, hardened, and enhanced within Tencent for more than ten years. It is widely used in Tencent’s QQ and WeChat social, video, e-Sports, maps, application market and security, and other hundreds of core businesses. The scale of microservices has reached over one million nodes, perfecting the practice of the industry-standard DevOps philosophy and Tencent’s mass service approach.

Arm

Arm is the world’s leading semiconductor intellectual property (IP) provider. Arm has been working with Tencent over the last year to undertake a complete port of TARS microservices to the Arm architecture. That porting effort is now complete and is available through the Akraino Blueprint ecosystem. The first two Arm deployments within Tencent are AR/VR and autonomous vehicle use cases for internal Tencent use.

AfterShip

AfterShip was established in 2012 with its headquarters located in Hong Kong. The company provides SaaS solutions to over 10,000 eCommerce businesses in the world. AfterShip’s solutions include shipment tracking, returns management, sales, and marketing.  AfterShip is a market leader in shipment tracking solutions.

“Our company has been adopting microservices for years, and we believe the TARS Foundation will help us excel in using microservices in the future.”

Ampere

Ampere focuses on cloud-native hardware. As such, it needs to ensure that any software used on that hardware runs exceedingly well to meet the demands of their customers’ expectations.

“Microservices have become very popular for several years, so we think cooperation with the TARS Foundation and focusing on microservices will allow us to achieve our vision.”

API7

API7 is an open source software startup company delivering a cloud-native microservices API gateway that aims to deliver the ultimate performance, security, open source, and scalable platform for all APIs and microservices. Compared with traditional API gateways, it has dynamic routing and plug-in hot loading, which is especially suitable for API management under a microservices-based system.

Kong

Kong is the world’s most popular open source microservice API gateway. Kong is used to secure, manage, and orchestrate microservice APIs.

“We look forward to collaborating with the TARS Foundation members to drive microservices adoption and innovation across businesses of all industries.”

Zenlayer

Zenlayer is an edge cloud services provider that enables businesses to improve digital user experiences quickly and globally, particularly in emerging markets.

“Integration of microservices with edge computing is now widespread. We look forward to doing more research on that and with the TARS Foundation.”

Conclusion

The TARS Foundation can help make the microservices ecosystem more effective, building a more aligned community of contributors and supporters. As more technology-first companies deploy microservices in production, we expect the trend to extend to traditional industries that are transforming. We hope that more people and companies will participate in the TARS Foundation and welcome everyone to contribute to a better and more open microservice ecosystem.

“The TARS Foundation will accelerate innovation for the microservices ecosystem through an open governance model that allows for rapid and high-quality contributions and collaboration. The Linux Foundation is very happy to support this work and enable its growth.” — Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation

Learn about the principles required to achieve a successful industry pivot to open source.

Linux and open source have changed the computer industry (among many others) forever.  Today, there are tens of millions of open source projects. A valid question is “Why?” How can it possibly make sense to hire developers that work on code that is given away for free to anyone who cares to take it?  I know of many answers to this question, but for the communities that I work in, I’ve come to recognize the following as the common thread.

An Industry Pivot

Software has become the most important component in many industries, and it is needed in very large quantities. When an entire industry needs to make a technology “pivot,” they often do as much of that as possible in software. For example, the telecommunications industry must make such a pivot in order to support 5G, the next generation of mobile phone network.  Not only will the bandwidth and throughput be increased with 5G, but an entirely new set of services will be enabled, including autonomous cars, billions of Internet-connected sensors and other devices (aka IoT), etc.  To do that, telecom operators need to entirely redo their networks distributing millions of compute and storage instances very, very close to those devices/users.

Given the drastic changing usage of the network, operators need to be able to deploy, move and/or tear-down services near instantaneously running them on those far-flung compute resources and route the network traffic to and through those service applications in a fully automated fashion. That’s a tremendous amount of software.  In the “old” model of complete competition, each vendor would build their solution to this customer need from the ground up and sell it to their telecom operator customers. It would take forever, cost a huge amount of money, and the customers would be nearly assured that one vendor’s system wouldn’t interoperate with another vendor’s solution.  The market demands solutions that don’t take that long or cost that much and, if they don’t work together, their value is much less for the customer.

So, instead, all the members of the telecom industry, both vendors and customers are collaborating to build a large portion of the foundational platform software together, just once.  Then, each vendor and operator will take that foundation of code and add whatever functionality they feel is differentiating for their customers, test it, harden it, and turn it into a full solution. This way, everyone gets to a solution much more quickly and with much less expense than would otherwise be possible. The mutual benefit of this is obvious. But how can they work together? How can they ensure that each participant in this community can get out of it what they need to be successful? These companies have never worked together before. Worse yet, they are fierce lifelong competitors with the only prior goal of putting the other out of business.

A Level Playing Field

This is what my team does at The Linux Foundation. We create and maintain that level playing field. We are both referee and janitor. We teach what we have learned from the long-term success of the Linux project, among others. Stay tuned for more blog posts detailing those principles and my experiences living those principles both as a participant in open source projects and as the referee.

So, bringing dozens of very large, fierce competitors, both vendors and customers, together and seeding the development effort with several million lines of code that usually only come from one or two companies is the task at hand.  That’s never been done before by anyone. The set of projects under the Linux Foundation Networking umbrella is one large experiment in corporate collaborative development. Take ONAP as an example; its successful outcome is not assured in any way.  Don’t get me wrong. The project has had an excellent start with three releases under its belt, and in general, things are going very well. However, there is much work to do and many ways for this community, and the organizations behind it, to become more efficient, and get to our end goal faster.  Again, such a huge industry pivot has not been done as an open source collaboration before. To get there, we are applying the principles of fairness, technical excellence, and transparency that are the cornerstone of truly collaborative open source development ecosystems. As such, I am optimistic that we will succeed.

This industry-wide technology pivot is not isolated to the telecom sector.  We are seeing it in many others. My goal in writing these articles on open source collaborative development principals, best practices, and experiences is to better explain to those new to this model, how it works, why these principals are in place and what to expect when things are working well, and when they are not.  There are a variety of non-obvious behaviors that organizational leaders need to adopt and instill in their workforce to be successful in one of these open source efforts. I hope these articles will give you the tools and insight to help you facilitate this culture shift within your organization.

Each year for the past six years, The Linux Foundation Training (LiFT) Scholarship Program has given away free training courses to individuals who may not otherwise have access to these opportunities.  

This year the 14 recipients chosen for a LiFT Scholarship will also receive a Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) or Linux Foundation Certified Engineer (LFCE) exam, allowing them to clearly verify their skills to potential employers.

The 2016 program is open to individuals who demonstrate a passion for Linux or open source software and an interest in advancing their skills.  Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. PST on June 30, 2016 and will be reviewed by a panel at The Linux Foundation. Recipients will be notified in mid-July and an announcement will be made in August.  

Submissions will be accepted in seven categories:

  • Linux Newbies: Individuals who are new to Linux but have learned the basics by completing the Intro to Linux online course (LFS101x) are invited to apply. Recipients in this category will be awarded a scholarship specifically for the next course in this career-focused series (LFS201 – Essentials of System Administration) as well as the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) exam.

  • Teens-in-Training: Students 13 – 18 years of age who have already started using Linux and/or open source software and want to get a head start on a career in the field.

  • Academic Aces: 2016 high school or college grads already familiar with Linux and/or open source software but who want to prepare for their career with extra training. Applicants must be 18 years or older.

  • Women in Open Source: We invite women who have demonstrated leadership or want to take initiative in creating opportunity for themselves or other women in the Linux and open source community to submit applications in this category.

  • SysAdmin Super Stars: These applicants should have already begun using Linux or open source software in their workplace but want to take their work to the next level with additional training.

  • Developer Do-Gooder: We invite developers who are using Linux and open source software to advance their communities to submit applications, so they might expand that good work while enhancing their skills.

  • Linux Kernel Guru: This category will recognize an individual who has already worked with the Linux kernel community and who can become a more valuable contributor.

The LiFT Scholarship Program has awarded 34 scholarships worth more than $100,000 over the life of the program. The training provides recipients with the tools they need to advance their career or get started in one of the most lucrative jobs in IT. According to the 2016 Open Source Jobs Report, 65 percent of hiring managers say open source hiring will increase more than any other part of their business over the next six months, and 79 percent of hiring managers have increased incentives to hold on to their current open source professionals.

The Linux Foundation aims to increase diversity in technology and the open source community and support career development opportunities for the next generation, especially those who have traditionally been underrepresented in open source and technology.

Submit your scholarship application today!

 

1) The Linux Foundation Jobs Report (published this week) shows Open source programming and DevOps skills to be in-demand amongst hiring managers.

Linux Foundation: Open Source Programming and DevOps Jobs Plentiful– The VAR Guy

2) The Core Infrastructure Initiative’s new badge program underscores CII’s mission to improve the security of open-source projects.

Linux Foundation Launches Badge Program to Boost Open Source Security– ZDNet

3) In a short new video, Linus Torvalds explains why it’s smart to choose an open source career.

Watch Why Linus Torvalds Says Linux is the Best Option for Career Building– TechWorm

4) Bryan Lunduke has noticed the decline in Mac users at tech conferences over the years.

Where Have all the MacBooks Gone at Linux Conferences?– NetworkWorld

5) “IoT developers seem to favor open source because ‘it’s free as in freedom,'” writes Matt Asay.

Open Source Near Ubiquitous in IoT, Report Finds– ReadWrite