Open treasures: Why we contribute to open source projects

By | 3 minute read | June 30, 2020

Open source is the winning approach in software development today. Take modern cloud computing for example, which is built on open source projects governed by the Linux Foundation and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Open source is having a transformational effect on the industry and driving innovation in the IT ecosystem. More and more organizations are leaning in and engaging in open source because, counterintuitively, it can pay off to allow your IT professionals to not just use open source software but contribute back to it.

Open source: The big picture

Consider enterprise open source for a moment: Next-generation data center solutions are software-defined, with concepts such as infrastructure as code and immutable infrastructure quickly gaining traction in the marketplace. In many areas, such as cloud, big data, machine learning and DevOps, open source software is on the cutting edge of innovation. Industry-leading open source projects include the Hadoop ecosystem, OpenStack, Docker, Kubernetes, Hyperledger, Ansible, TensorFlow, Kafka and many more. Such projects are embedded into ecosystems that promote the use of open source licenses by default. As a result, the industry at large is pivoting toward open source software.

IBM is committed to fostering the use of open technology. IBMers contribute more than 15,000 commits per month to open source projects, making IBM top 3 in the world, along with Google and Red Hat. IBM heavily invests in open source, and this trend is expected to continue and further increase following the Red Hat acquisition.

Three benefits of participating in open source for IT professionals

IT infrastructure professionals need to constantly gain new skills to remain essential for clients that are adopting next-generation data center solutions. Active participation in strategic open source projects and communities is an effective way to stay up to speed in a fast-moving industry. Active participation in open source communities helps you gather essential skills at the forefront of development.

Contributing to open source projects has further benefits for IT infrastructure professionals:

  • Expand and sharpen skills: Adopting innovative technologies often means working with upstream (open source) projects, and active contribution to such projects allows you to acquire and deepen your knowledge. Clients implementing new applications learn by contributing as they receive feedback from more experienced users.
  • Establish the community as a communication channel: Open source projects facilitate collaboration, knowledge sharing and asset reuse. This allows IT professionals from different companies to build an effective (virtual) community, breaking through the borders of their own department or company — and more collaboration across the industry means faster innovation, which all participants benefit from.
  • Find the best experts to work with: Those looking for expertise in a particular area can find skilled consultants in open source communities. Clients have found consultants from my team, IBM Systems Lab Services, through their community contributions, resulting in improved reputation, eminence and ultimately in new service engagements. This is not only relevant to IT service consultants though; recognition and the feeling of producing value for others is “the fuel” of open source.


Open source can be amazing, both for achieving things and for learning. Open source projects are open for reuse by others and open for change. Open source allows developers to build on each other’s ideas — standing on the shoulders of giants.

IBM Systems Lab Services is an organization of experienced IT infrastructure consultants with a worldwide presence. Lab Services consultants help IBM clients through a full IT infrastructure lifecycle of strategy and planning, architecture and design, and implementation and optimization. Get an overview of Lab Services Open Source Projects on GitHub.

And contact Lab Services if you have questions or want to talk about your next IT Infrastructure project.