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Practically all product development today includes some open source code or libraries – so how can companies better understand and manage open source?

Recently, I contributed an article to the TODO Group about why and how SanDisk® has adopted open source. With Red Hat Summit coming up, and my speaking session there, I wanted to share my perspective here as well and give a few key tips on how traditional companies can more successfully adopt open source.

Unlike new software companies and next-gen technologies like cloud, IoT, and mobile, traditional industries have not included open source as part of their DNA. They are generally accustomed to proprietary development, both in house and in the products they deploy. Open source is often seen as a risk and a threat to patents and intellectual property, accountability, support, and legal challenges.

But there’s no way around it. Practically all product development today includes some open source code or libraries – so how can companies better understand and manage open source?

1. Start a Discussion with Key Stakeholders

Start the discussion by including those who are already using open source who could be viewed as both champions and subject matter experts. Your core group should reach across the entire company to begin outlining policies, training, and best practices. This also allows you to understand the inventory of open source usage and use cases.

2. Define Your Leadership

Employees, developers, and even the legal team need a single point of contact for all open source-related issues – both inside the company as well as for external parties. This open source office can create a proactive plan for driving more strategic involvement in projects important to the company’s roadmap. It can also more clearly communicate on the company’s open source stance and interests.

3. Get Involved in the Community

Find places where you can support and get involved with the open source community. Foundations such as the Linux Foundation and OpenStack Foundation provide a great resource for collaboration, events, and best practices.

4. See Where Open Source Can Better Your Business

For sustainability, you need to define the role of open source in your overall business strategy. Key stakeholders should be having discussions on business models, business cases for open source, and the marketing of your open source engagement.

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This is where we found ourselves at SanDisk, a Western Digital brand, just a few years ago. As we increasingly embraced open source, we needed to understand and manage it better. Further, we could not achieve our goals without contributing back to the community. We wanted to establish ourselves as an open source friendly company by providing visibility and clarity on our role in the community.

Today, SanDisk recognizes open source as the lifeblood of innovation in the new data center for cloud architectures, rapid innovation, and transformed IT. We are members of the Linux Foundation and the OpenStack Foundation and contribute to multiple open source projects. This year I was even named in CIO magazine’s ‘Influential Women In Open Source’ I think it’s a great attestation not only to my personal project, but to our work as a commercial company contributing to the open source community and space.

See Us at Red Hat Summit!

If you’ll be at Red Hat Summit, make sure to stop by our booth #529A and see the InfiniFlash™ 150 System from SanDisk. SanDisk and Western Digital brands will both be there. In addition, the Western Digital Brand will also be at the ARM pod #129.

I will also be speaking about “Why companies should have open source strategy offices” on Wednesday, Jun 29 at 3:30 PM. This will be a great opportunity to hear more about why an open source office is important event in traditional companies and some of the key areas to manage for success.

On Thursday, June 30 at 10:15 AM, Venkat Kolli will be speaking as part of a panel: Ceph & Gluster Hardware Selection and Performance Discussion with Reference Architecture Partners.

Feel free to reach out with any questions here or on my Twitter @NithyaRuff. I look forward to seeing you there!

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