If you’re reading this article, it’s almost a certainty your business uses open source software. The web hosting industry is one of the foremost beneficiaries of the open source movement. Linux, GNU, MySQL, Apache, PHP, Python, and WordPress — all fruits of open source development that have been embraced by web hosting companies to build products and services. The benefits of using open source software are obvious, but what’s often not so obvious is why web hosts and solution providers should start their own open source projects.
I’m not talking about giants like Red Hat, Google, and even Microsoft. Their motivations for creating open source projects are clear. Nor am I talking about making the occasional contribution to existing projects — most developers in the industry will make a pull request from time-to-time.
I’m talking about SMEs in the web hosting space initiating and leading open source projects based on the code they use internally. That happens less often, and I’d like to look at some of the reasons I think web hosting and related companies could benefit from taking the lead on open source projects.
There are significant benefits to developers if they’re empowered to lead open source projects as part of their job. Open source leadership roles are great for developer resumes and they allow developers to hone their skills. If your company takes the lead on prominent open source projects — even if they’re only prominent within a particular niche — it’s likely to prove more attractive to the most talented developers.
Improving The Ecosystem Around Your Products
If you have an itch to scratch, it’s likely to be scratched faster with a collaborative approach that recruits help from a wider developer community. To take one example: we created the Turpentine Magento extension because we wanted to improve integration between Magento and Varnish. We could have kept that code in-house, but by open sourcing it we attracted input from other developers, including bug reports and patches.
Improving the ecosystem around Magento helps everyone who uses Magento, but it also helped us build a better product for our clients.
Open Source Generates Goodwill
Many web hosting providers depend on the goodwill of developers, system administrators, and other technical folks. When a company contributes tools and code that are useful to the people who build websites and eCommerce stores, it’s noticed. Code can help cultivate a positive reputation among just the people who can bring their clients to our platforms.
We all benefit from open source and the contributions thousands of companies and individual developers have made over many years. Giving back by contributing code, developer time, and leadership to open source projects helps both the wider community and our companies.
About the Author
Graeme Caldwell works as an inbound marketer for Nexcess, a leading provider of Magento and WordPress hosting. Follow Nexcess on Twitter at @nexcess, Like them on Facebook and check out their tech/hosting blog, https://blog.nexcess.net/.
More from this author: