Open Source as a Force Multiplier

I joined my second startup back in November 2014. Let’s face it: I’m a glutton for punishment. As a startup, we struggle daily with keeping our costs low, while attempting to get as much bang for the buck as we possibly can.  Our product, cloudSM, has been live for several months and we are growing our customer base, which is great.  To help accelerate adoption we want to broaden and deepen our integrations with more technology partners to improve both the appeal and utility of our software.  However, as a startup we have limited resources to a) execute on what we want to do in a timely fashion and, more importantly, b) provide longer-term support for those integrations, which we do accomplish.
It is at this stage of a startup’s life – still small, but about to take off – that the Open Source community can be of great help in that regard.
I am a huge fan of Open Source. I have been ever since I used 0.98 beta Linux back in the early 90’s. It is amazing to watch how fast community updates are made to the various products. Case in point: I have been following OpenStack since the Folsum release, and have been quite pleased with improvement in both quality and functionality of the product.  In a similar fashion, throughout the years I have watched how fast the communities respond to security flaws discovered in the code.
In our case, we analyzed the technology integrations we need to do and determined that they were not core to our business (they would not differentiate us), but are considered to be “table stakes” for the business we are in. With limited software development resources, it’s important to keep those resources focused on core business offerings.  However, these non-core integrations still need to get done. Upon further examination, we found that we could save a great deal of time in implementing those integrations by using Python libraries from an active Apache project.
The beauty of this approach is that libraries are well-established and well-defined, making our integration a lot simpler.  Furthermore, we have a community of thousands of developers supporting those libraries, which helps reduce our business risk, should security or other problems arise.  Lastly, it gives our own developers exposure to the Open Source world in general and this Apache project in particular, which will be valuable for them, as we plan on contributing back.
In essence, the Open Source approach serves as a force multiplier for my development team. Welcome to the team!
Disclaimer: This article was written by a guest contributor in his/her personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of