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Open source communities

IBM supports high-impact open source projects.

Dynamic communities are the cornerstone of open source development. IBM plays a leading role in communities that drive technologies and provide the greatest return to developers.

Read about our open communities

Building successful communities

IBM believes that communities with open governance and an inclusive philosophy will attract the largest ecosystems and markets.

There are thousands of open source projects on GitHub that aren’t being actively maintained. And even where the code is actively maintained, it’s often by a single individual or company.

Investing in open source projects with a single owner can be risky. A small company can be acquired by a new owner that decides to make previously open source code proprietary. A large company might decide that it no longer wants to devote resources to open source initiative. Open governance eliminates the risks of sole ownership.

We look at open technology and assess whether there’s an architectural fit, and if the technology can be improved over time. We evaluate whether there are enough positives to warrant the investment to help bring the project to true open governance. In particular, we focus on five essential characteristics.

What are IBM’s five essential characteristics for evaluating an open source project?

  • Responsible licensing—We need to understand the open source license that is associated with the technology.
  • Accessible commit process—We look to ensure that there is a clearly defined process for making contributions that welcome outside contributors.
  • Diverse ecosystem—We confirm that there are multiple vendors and ISVs that are delivering offerings based on the technology.
  • Active community—We require that there be a process for contributors to grow their technical eminence in the community.
  • Open governance—We evaluate the governance model to determine whether it is truly open.

“IBM knows that a ‘rising tide floats all boats.’ It isn’t enough that IBM succeeds–we need to ensure that many can succeed to ensure a vibrant ecosystem … with 62,000 engineers certified to participate in open source, we are all in on open source.”

Todd Moore, VP Open Technology at IBM and CNCF’s governing board chairperson

Todd Moore

Thriving ecosystems

IBM has invested close to $1 billion and dedicated hundreds of open source development, marketing, and evangelism resources to open source projects. We have initiated many of these projects and worked tirelessly to help the organizations and the projects they hosted to define and achieve success. We do this because the value that IBM derives from these projects and organizations extends beyond the open source software itself. We succeed by creating vibrant communities and thriving ecosystems that develop around these centers of gravity for open technology.

IBM has identified certain open source communities as providing maximum impact, whether through their core technology or because of the thriving ecosystem that they enable. Following are the key communities that we have made major investments in and continue to support.

Linux

In 1999 we formed the Linux Technology Center to formalize our commitment and contribute to the Linux community. In 2007, IBM collaborated with other key industry leaders to establish the Linux Foundation as a founding Platinum sponsor. We have been, and continue to be, a leader in the Linux community.

Hyperledger

IBM recognizes the potential of blockchain technology. We have worked with the Linux Foundation to help establish the Hyperledger Project, an open technology fabric that could fuel the many use cases outside the crypto-currency domain.

Node.js

IBM is a Platinum member of the Node.js Foundation. We support the community and single unified code base and are one of the leading contributors to the Node.js community.

Eclipse

In 2001, IBM created the Eclipse Foundation with a grant of the Eclipse Java IDE framework. We continue to support this space to collaborate and innovate under open governance.

Docker

IBM is currently one of the top contributors to Docker and the Open Container Initiative. We continue to support portable containers across platforms.

Cloud Foundry

In 2014, IBM worked with EMC, HP, Intel, Pivotal, SAP, VMware, and others to establish the Cloud Foundry Foundation. Our goal is to provide open governance for the Cloud Foundry project, an open source, multi-cloud application platform as a service (PaaS) .

Apache

IBM’s open source leadership began with the formation of the Apache Software Foundation in 1999. The foundation was created to provide open governance for the development of the Apache HTTP server and has expanded to include projects for web, document processing, mobile, cloud, analytics, and messaging.

OpenStack

In 2012, IBM collaborated with AT&T, Canonical, HP, Intel, Rackspace, Redhat, and SUSE (among others) to establish the OpenStack Foundation. IBM has been one of the leading contributors toward the project’s success, ensuring along the way that the focus remains on what matters most to the enterprise.

Kubernetes

Kubernetes is experiencing explosive growth in both code and community. We are involved in several key development activities within Kubernetes- the service catalog, contributor experience, networking & Istio, ContainerD integration, storage and performance.

Open API Initiative (OAI)

Started in November, 2015 as working group under the Linux Foundation, the OAI is focused on creating, evolving, and promoting a vendor neutral description format. We work closely with the OAI to ensure faster, easier API development.

Open Liberty

In September of 2017 we further strengthened our commitment to Java developers and announced the Open Liberty project. Open Liberty is an open source implementation of the Eclipse MicroProfile and Java EE and is the foundation of the WebSphere Liberty application server.

Apache Spark

Our Spark Technology Center (STC) contributes heavily to almost all components of Spark, and we offer Spark on the IBM Cloud and in Spectrum Conductor with Spark. The STC Advisory Council promotes the widespread adoption of Apache Spark.