Author: Gabriele Columbro (LinkedIn)
Bio: Gabriele is an open source technologist at heart. As Executive Director, Gabriele grew the Fintech Open Source Foundation (FINOS) from the ground up, with the vision of creating a trusted arena for the global financial services industry to innovate faster, leveraging open source as a model of collaboration. He then led FINOS to join the Linux Foundation umbrella to accelerate growth, ensure long term sustainability of efforts and reduce fragmentation in the Foundation’s ecosystem. In 2022, he took on a dual role as General Manager of the newly launched Linux Foundation Europe, which was created to foster regional open collaborations in the European continent and expand the global platform of the Linux Foundation.
Day by day, we are getting closer to Kubecon Europe, and myself and the growing Linux Foundation Europe team can’t wait. We will be there, as a Silver sponsor, and having launched only last September this will be our first KubeCon Europe as a team. We’re looking forward to the jam-packed programme and vibrant crowds that this event promises to deliver, as well as introducing the LF Europe team and mission to the Cloud Native community.
I am personally incredibly proud of the progress we at LF Europe have made in such a short time – over 90 organizational members have signed up and we’ve already launched two projects with major cross-industry support, Sylva and the OpenWallet Foundation, perfect examples of the types of European-strong open collaborations we set out to support across individual contributors, the public and the private sectors.
I’d like to share some highlights from our journey so far as well as some exciting news, that being the launch of our World of Open Source: Global Spotlight 2023 survey at KubeCon CloudNativeCon Europe 2023, from which we’ll use data to create a brand new report on the state of open source in Europe. This survey follows last year’s World of Open Source: Europe Spotlight, which provided fascinating insights about open source as well as opportunities at the crossroads of policy and technology in Europe. These insights have been absolutely critical for us since day one and in this next iteration we aspire to reproduce similar actionable insights at a global scale, covering all regions and technical domains.
We see this as vitally important and urgent work to support greater collaboration in the global open source ecosystem, in the wake of political (particularly, emerging techno-nationalist) agendas that risk fragmenting open source ecosystems. The first step to tackling these problems (and, of course, seizing opportunities) is knowing and understanding them, and with this upcoming survey we hope to generate actionable insights to do exactly that.
Understanding trends in the development and use of open source cloud and edge technologies in Europe as well as globally will be critical, as Europe seeks to improve its position in the global cloud market and establish cloud as a major EU industry. These insights will also be useful for policymakers who view cloud computing as a key goal to increase Europe’s data sovereignty – a mission that is stated in the EU recovery plan, European Commission’s Data Strategy, Digital Strategy, and Industrial Strategy.
Key Learnings from the World of Open Source: Europe Spotlight
Since the day we launched Linux Foundation Europe at the OSS Summit Europe in September 2022, our priorities have been informed by the insights from our World of Open Source: Europe Spotlight – a Europe-wide collaboration led by the exceptional team at Scott Logic.
In the foreword, I shared a hypothesis that guides much of the work my team and I do:
‘Romantic,’ commercial, and social natures of open source can coexist. When open collaboration is done right—through foundations or otherwise—every constituent has value to gain, and that’s the only way to ensure the sustainability of this awesome digital commons that OSS communities maintain every day.
My first investment as General Manager for LF Europe, together with the incredible Linux Foundation Research team, was to test and validate this hypothesis and learn more about the region’s challenges and opportunities directly from the extended European open source ecosystem. After all, Europe is a hub of global open source activity and leadership: besides boasting a large open source grassroots community, Europe leads in academic citations on open source and clearly recognises its critical role in the economy and society.
Source: Infographic – World of Open Source: Europe Spotlight
A major finding was that the public sector has been failing to fully capitalize on open source. On the one hand, we are increasingly seeing open source consumption being formally prescribed by governments across Europe and much of the public sector’s code is now shared in the open, primarily for transparency reasons. On the other hand, there is still little inner source activity, which indicates a lack of collaboration between public sector organizations, and typically a lack of a clear contribution policy, which suggests an overly narrow appreciation of open source’s value and that it is simply a mechanism for the transparency of work rather than for collaboration and collective value creation. With the public sector having so much to gain from open source, much must happen to create a cultural shift. Policies that simply mandate consumption and the “sharing of code” miss much of the value OSS offers. It is important that this message is heard by policymakers across Europe and the world.
Another important insight was that open source is the apolitical key to fostering digital sovereignty. This is high on political agendas across Europe, as American and Chinese firms develop and own most of the products, services, and infrastructure of the global digital economy. There is a clear recognition amongst European policymakers to create and sustain the mechanisms that will enable Europe and European nations to plot their own courses in the digital world. As governments pursue their political goals of digital sovereignty, we must strive to avoid the fragmentation of open source ecosystems along regional contours as a consequence.
Fragmentation is a real problem that we must take seriously: a study by LF Research found that techno-nationalism is a major threat to global open source collaboration. The best antidote: transparent open source development protocols. Open source exists and operates beyond politics, which inclusively drives value for all, breeds digital products and services that anyone can use, ensures space for constraint-free innovation, and creates rich environments for skills and capability development. Indeed, open source is an incredibly powerful mechanism for collective value creation and bringing the vision of the global ‘digital commons’ to life. The takeaway: from the Bay to Brussels to Beijing, we need to double down on open source!
Undoubtedly these insights have influenced how we at LF Europe have planned for 2023 and beyond. Case in point, it became clear that investing in public sector-originated projects has to be a top priority, and that is why we are focusing our efforts in Brussels as well as other European capitals. We see it as a priority to work with the European open source community at large to mobilize the European public sector and related stakeholders to capitalize on the great and to a large extent still untapped opportunity that open source presents to the region.
Launching the World of Open Source: Global Spotlight 2023 Survey at KubeCon Europe
While we focus on Europe at LF Europe, open source is of course much bigger than Europe. That is why our World of Open Source: Global Spotlight 2023 survey will be truly global, covering all regions of the world and all major domains of open source, including cloud and container technologies. And we are delighted to be able to launch the global survey at KubeCon Europe. We will have information at our LF Europe booth, so stop by, learn more about this research, and take the survey!
Just like last year, the aim is to generate actionable insights on the dynamics of open source across the globe and to provide individuals, organizations, and governments with tangible advice that allows them to better unlock the growing value of open source software. For example, we will be looking at what open source technologies organizations most commonly consume, contribute to, and see as the most valuable to the future of their industry. Cloud and container technologies are certainly expected to be amongst the mix.
Just as we have enjoyed working with the European open source community to address the opportunities that we identified in our 2022 research, we look forward to working with the global open source community on opportunities that will be identified through the 2023 global survey.
By working together, we can unleash the true innovation value that open source collaboration has the potential to enable on a global scale.