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Talking Open Source With Intel’s Arun Gupta at Open Source Summit 2023

Open Source Success Means Tying Open Source to Your Core Business at Every Step

Talking Open Source With Intel’s Arun Gupta at Open Source Summit 2023

To Arun Gupta, Intel’s vice president and general manager of open ecosystems, the idea of fostering open source cultures and use within companies of all sizes begins with talking open source with business leaders and developers on a regular basis.

I recently caught up with Gupta at The Linux Foundation’s Open Source Summit North America in Vancouver, Canada in May, where he was meeting with customers, developers, and open source advocates and talking about how enterprises using open source should also work to contribute back to open source.

Often as Gupta talks open source with IT leaders inside companies, they still share concerns about open source, including worries that by using it and contributing to it that they will be sharing their business secrets with others when contributing code back to projects.

“They say, ‘we have heard about open source, but we have so many questions, and our CIO or CTO does not understand it,’” said Gupta. “They think we are going to just put everything out in the wild, and people are going to steal this thing, and we are going to lose all our competitive advantage.”

That is when Gupta explains how enterprises can take steps to plan out their open source use and their open source contribution strategies.

Enterprise IT leaders should look at what is needed to build out their internal open source practices, he said, including what governance, code contributions, staffing and other details should look like within the operation.

“I think there is a huge amount of unknown knowledge” about open source that enterprise IT leaders often need sound advice to figure out, said Gupta. “It does not surprise me at all. There are traditional companies that are using open source technologies, but they are not aware” of all the issues that crop up. “They do not want to get out and start contributing. So, they need that hand holding [to teach them about how to] get out and contribute code” back to open source projects.

Contributing code features and improvements back to the open source projects is part of the environment that makes code better and more secure, but not all IT leaders understand that this is how the system works, he added.

“And it is not giving back for the fun of it,” said Gupta. “It is giving back to help them solve their own specific needs from the code. Once you do that, you … want to … push the [improvements] out into the community. Because you have solved [the problems in your code] you want to stay upstream compatible, because then you can leverage the innovations that are continuing to happen in the community and pull them in as well.”

For IT leaders who are learning how open source projects work, including how code requests and code are submitted and approved, “that is the biggest education,” said Gupta. “You cannot just say ‘I will submit a code request and somebody will go fix it up.’ No, nobody will go fix it up. You need to get to that level of becoming a code maintainer” so you can get out of it what you need.

Talking Open Source: To Reach Success, Tie Open Source to Your Core Business

Intel has been involved in open source and the open source community for a long time. And as Gupta travels around the world to share the promise and capabilities of open source, he talks about how the company approaches open source at every level.

For Intel, the company’s best advice for fostering an open source culture is simple – tie open source to your core business at every step, said Gupta. More enterprises are already doing this, which is helping them to drive innovation, creativity, and better code, he said.

“I think the game has changed,” said Gupta, evidenced by aviation leader Boeing joining the Cloud Native Computing Foundation at a premier Platinum level tier in 2022. “That is a big deal, because they have been using open source [and contributing to it] forever.”

Another presenter at the Open Source Summit, John Jordan, the executive director of the British Columbia Digital Trust Service in Victoria, BC, Canada, spoke about how that government is using open source and participating in open source communities, which is notable, said Gupta. Some other governments may be a bit reluctant to use open source, but in British Columbia they are “flipping it on its head,” said Gupta. “They are saying ‘let’s do open source and push these communities out.”

Bringing open source directly into an enterprise’s core business practices helps establish its importance, flexibility, and value, said Gupta. “I think that is the education that will always be required. There is still a long way to go, but progress is being made.”

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