Human DevOps

Sunday 20th August - What Cost Open Source?

Published 10 months ago • 2 min read

What's the biggest news from the last few weeks? ​Probably the rumbling debate about "what is open source"? This follows from the decision by Hashicorp to take their open source tools towards a Business Source License (as reported in The Register), which has implications for using these 'free' tools.

If you've not heard of Hashicorp, you might have heard of Terraform, their (formally 'completely free' to use) Infrastructure as Code tool. Terraform is used by companies, both big and small, to automate the creation of cloud infrastructure on AWS, Google, Azure, etc. So while this is big news, it's probably not bad news for everyone. The license change is most definitely aimed at Hashicorp's service-aligned competitors. So perhaps this is a storm in a teacup? Or at least a storm that most of us simple users of Terraform can ignore?

Well, not necessarily. Perhaps it's a good idea now to think about your company's view of open source and where it fits into your roadmap because no software is written today without the help of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software).

More details on the licence changes can be found on the excellent Kyle E. Mitchell blog. You can also read more here with this excellent piece about the history of open source and how big tech has got involved over the last 30 years.

Speaking as someone who spent a lot of time writing open-source software, I'm a big proponent of it, but I'm also a big proponent of making sure that credit is given to those that do the hard work. And this is the big debate. Can and should companies profit from the work of unpaid volunteers? In current times, perhaps the model needs to be revised. Perhaps Big Tech should take a leading role in making sure that open-source is equitable for all.


I've been on vacation for the last few weeks, and I'm now back in NL to start work with a new (old) client next week. I'm very excited to share more about that in time. In the meantime however, I've also made a few decisions about what I offer to my clients. Previously I had announced the Modern Software Leadership course but on reflection have decided that this needs more refinement and would make more sense in written format. Therefore I have decided to expand this framework around the Modern Software Leadership way. I'm aiming to publish this in Q2 next year.

Additionally, following some positive feedback following my talk at the We Are Developers conference in Berlin in July, I've decided to offer training and coaching on the QUEST practices. More to follow in the next few weeks about QUEST practices and MSL.

Until the next time, enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

-- Richard

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Human DevOps

by Richard Bown

DevOps at is the heart of modern software systems. In my regular newsletter, I dive into the human factors that make successful engineering organizations where teams and platforms thrive at the heart of your socio-technical systems. From leadership to team setup, maximizing performance, tools and techniques.

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