FOSS Sustainability


Overview of FOSS/Open Source Sustainability and Pay The Maintainers movements.

View the Project on GitHub ShaneCurcuru/fosssustainability

Software Companies

Commercial entities building software products.

Relationships With Other Aspects

Vocabularies used: corporate, policy, risk, technical,
Timescale aspect changes: moderate,
Scope of aspect: medium,
Relationship with other aspects: project, company, foundation,
Primary focus: project

Sustainability Aspects

Companies care about revenue, market share, and commercial advantage.

Companies usually know about some risks in their own supply chains.

Companies often lobby with regulators, standards bodies, and others for policies that help their business models.

Companies embrace those parts of sustainability that they believe is to their advantage.

Software Companies

Companies that create any sorts of software products are a critical part of any FOSS sustainability discussion. Commercial companies rely on a wide variety of open source products in both their daily work and directly in products they sell. How and when software companies contribute material work back to open source projects is a major driver of both maintenance and innovation.

Software companies vary widely in their knowledge of FOSS and their internal policies that govern how their employees contribute to open source. Many companies have a gap in understanding of how FOSS affects their operations between some technical staff versus business teams. One indicator of a more mature company is presence of an OSPO.

  • Funding Most major software companies sponsor multiple Foundations, and also provide funding in various ways for events, project maintenance, and in-kind donations of services like cloud credits.
  • Contributions Software companies are often built around core open source projects, and in some areas are the major contributors (through their paid employees) to those projects.
  • Events Companies often manage and promote events that provide key networking and learning opportunities for open source projects.
  • Education Dev Rel and some marketing activities at companies focus on the underlying open source projects, which provides educational and outreach opportunities for those projects.

Sustainability Questions

Is “Software Companies” a good enough category, or are the ways you might talk to a company about sustainability fundamentally change if the company is already a major FOSS contributor or not? What are the differences between companies that lead a FOSS project; or that have a reputation for participating in multiple FOSS projects; versus companies seen as primarily uninvolved?

For companies interested in sponsoring maintainers, what corporate process hurdles do they have? How do companies update policies to make it simpler to fund individuals or non-traditional companies for work on FOSS they depend on?

Ideas and References

Other Reference Links

Tags: Organization | Commercial | Funder