Growing an InnerSource Culture at SAP – InnerSource Commons Summit
Open Source is a very dear topic for me, as it brings a culture of openness, collaboration and meritocracy.
I was very happy when I started applying this concepts at SAP, and also glad to discover that the practice of applying this concepts for in-house software development had a name:
“InnerSource is the use of open source software development best practices and the establishment of an open source-like culture within organizations.”
With time, I engaged with other practitioners at SAP and also discover a community of practitioners outside the company, the InnerSource Commons.
More or less twice a year the community organizes a Summit (typically Spring and Fall), and this time we (Michael Graf and I) got our talk accepted for the Spring event that happened on April 14th and 15th, this time as a Virtual event.
It was a great to share our experience and learn from the other participants.
Our talk, as well as the other talks for the event, are available online:
You can check the other presentations as well here.
We have collected the questions asked during our talk, some where answered directly at the event, and the ones we could not answer live we answered offline.
Q & A
We have collected questions and answers from our session.
Questions answered during the event
- Question: Wondering about the connection btw. The Software Forge at SAP (also with Dirk Riehle) and the current implementation of InnerSource. Was that a seamless transition?
- From Guilherme Dellagustin: Good question, actually this is now a different initiative, and there were others in the past, I think the evolution in the tools we use for coding and communication made it easier now to run InnerSource
- From Michael Graf: It’s more like an evolution in waves i would say, i personally found out only later about the Software Forge when we starting researching about InnerSource
- Question: How were you able to handle so many contributions in such a short space of time ?
- From Michael Graf: having a good contribution and review process
- From Michael Graf: we had help from our UA Department who govern the documentation
- Question: How much time did the Trusted Committers have for this? I was wondering how much of your daily schedule the TCs were able to spend on InnerSource
- From Guilherme Dellagustin: It varies a lot, and this is related to my introduction about the company, there is a lot of diversity on management styles and empowerment, so some employees have a lot of freedom to decide their priorities, others would have to align before with their managers on how much time they can spend on that.
- From Michael Graf: My main role is a UI developer in the Sports & Entertainment Industry, but i contribute part of my time (between 10-20%) to this workstream usually
- Question: Is Ambassador a Mentor?
- From Guilherme Dellagustin: It also acts as a coach, but we also do other activities, like outreach to promote InnerSource, create InnerSource material and guides, for example
- Question: You state, you have task planning with GitHub and JIRA – are you mirroring activity between the two tools or do you use each issue tracker for a specific purpose?
- From Michael Graf: We track small changes and ideas in GitHub and move it over to Jira once it is Ready to be executed
- Question: How do you increase management support? What strategies had the most success in getting the management on board?
- From Guilherme Dellagustin: That is still ongoing, hopefully we will have more on that in the future
Questions answered offline
- Question: what does “onboarding a project” into InnerSource give said project? Presumably any project with internally open code is available for contributions. What do they get? Being promoted?
- Onboarding a project in this case means giving advice so that the project is setup according to InnerSource best practices (i.e. clear contribution guidelines, governance, how to setup development environment, good documentation, open backlog) – we don’t consider that having the code accessible automatically makes a project InnerSource.
- Question: Could you give an example how you supported the integration of an acquired company by InnerSource?
- One example is UI5 Web Components, which can be used in products from acquired companies and also our core products, contributions make the framework more flexible and widely used.
- Question: What is the organisational model behind the InnerSource Ambassador? Financing? Line organisation?
- The InnerSource Group is organized centrally by our Open Source Program Office but Ambassadors can come from any organization. The contributions to the group by ambassador are done on a voluntary basis.
- Question: Can you give a ratio on projects? Are your InnerSource Projects rather of internal use or do they get on the external market as well? Would be interested to hear where developers are attracted to contribute to most.
- We don’t have a concrete ratio, we have many InnerSource projects that evolve into Open Source, others are either internal tools, reusable libraries or tools used in the development workflow to create products. In one way or another the result of InnerSource projects get into the external market.
- Question: How many people are in your IS group, and how much time to they spend in it?
- Around 10 people. We don’t have information on the exact time spent, but it is mostly part time and flexible. We define focus topics to work together and connect with different organizations to get support.