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At Think 2019, Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, President and CEO, led a panel of experts to discuss the value of open source in the enterprise. Guests included Abby Kearns, Executive Director, Cloud Foundry; Jim Zemlin, Executive Director, The Linux Foundation; Steve O’Grady, Principal Analyst & Co-founder, Redmonk; Dr. Marcelo Labre, Executive Director, Risk Management Division, Morgan Stanley; and Andre Fuetsch, President, AT&T Labs and Chief Technology Officer, AT&T.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty with open source leaders

Here are some of the most memorable moments from the group discussion, which was structured around 4 key questions.

1. What is the state of open source today?

Jim Zemlin: “Open source now powers almost every modern aspect of computing.”

Steve O’Grady: “Successful companies are those that are being run as digital businesses. And what’s the engine behind that? It’s the developers and their preference is open source.”

2. How can companies best incentivize programmers to contribute to open source?

Abby Kearns: “Contributing can take many forms. Maybe it’s code through a pull request, maybe it’s helping clean up the docs, or maybe it’s helping to tell the story better and getting people excited about it.”

Steve O’Grady: “The number of projects that shouldn’t be open source is so infinitesimal that instead of asking programmers to justify why a project should be open, companies should have them justify why it should be closed.”

Steve O'Grady at Think 2019

Dr. Marcelo Labre: “Once you develop open-source standards and everyone falls in line and starts developing, contributions will come naturally.”

Andre Fuetsch: “Lower the entry barriers, make it more accessible, and make it more transparent . . .(Recognition) is a really powerful incentive.”

3. Why is open governance important? What lessons do you have to make open governance successful?

Abby Kearns: “Getting more people at the table to participate either at the strategic level or at the contribution level.”

Abby Kearns at Think 2019

Jim Zemlin: “Ensuring, early, that the decision-making structure is open and works for everyone, including your competitors, is the only way you can create standards.”

Steve O’Grady: “There is no one governance model that’s going to work for every project. The key is to find a key set of shared expectations.”

Dr. Marcelo Labre: “Open governance is having transparent standards, internally and externally, but also across the industry,”

Andre Fuetsch: “Open governance is really important and it’s also more important that there isn’t such a small group that has a grip over it.”

Andre Fuetsch at Think 2019

4. What is the greatest myth of open source? What is your greatest hope for open source?

Abby Kearns: “The greatest myth is that open source contributions are done by a small number of people on nights and weekends. My greatest hope is that more people get involved and more people participate.”

Jim Zemlin: “The greatest myth is that it’s not professional, and that it’s just a bunch of volunteers.”

Steve O’Grady: “The greatest myth is that ‘open source is just about code.’ My greatest hope is that we can all find a way to essentially be on the same page in way that continues to sustain open source.”

Andre Fuetsch: “The greatest myth is that open source is unsecure. As far as my hope, I want to see every program that we do at AT&T to be open source based.”

Dr. Marcelo Labre: “The greatest myth about open source is that it’s full of bugs and it’s unsafe . . My hope? That the myth goes away!”

Open source panel at Think 2019

Watch the full replay of the session from Think 2019