Guest: Rob Hirschfeld (LinkedIn)
Company: RackN (Twitter)
Show: Let’s Talk

There is a misconception that just because something is open source that it is a safe option, but there are many factors that determine the success and longevity of a project. In this episode of TFiR: Let’s Talk, Swapnil Bhartiya sits down with Rob Hirschfeld, Co-Founder and CEO of RackN, to discuss the importance of collaboration around an open source project and what makes a project successful. He goes on to talk about the commercialization aspect of open source and the role of foundations. Hirschfeld also explains how RackN is helping make open source more accessible for people. 

Key highlights from this video interview are:

  • Collaboration has played a crucial role in open source, with Kubernetes and Linux being good examples of this, where it has powered the production of high-quality products. Hirschfeld talks about how open source has driven cloud-native technologies enabling people to collaborate and work on their use cases together. 
  • Many people believe that just because something is open source it is a safe option, yet this is not necessarily true. You need a healthy multi-vendor community for a project but it is just as important that the vision for the project matches your own vision. Hirschfeld goes into depth about what makes a good open source project.
  • Commercialization is critical for the survival or success of open source and it’s important for users to consider how they are contributing to the code, financially or by contributing code. Hirschfeld explains why this is so important in order to sustain the project. 
  • Hirschfeld believes that the most success of any software, either open source or proprietary is when you have a shared group of development resources working across all of the users of that software. He explains how this creates innovation and introduces a broader span of use cases. 
  • Foundations are key to open source yet it can be misunderstood. Hirschfeld explains how foundations serve to act as a diplomat and negotiator on the commercial aspects around the project. He talks about the role of foundations in open source and why it is crucial to get the balance right. 
  • RackN provides infrastructure automation software, helping companies to run data centers from the ground up as software. He explains how by providing Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) scaffolding and offering support they ensure that people are using open source in a consistent repeatable way. Hirschfeld explains how they make open source more accessible to customers, helping them stay up-to-date with the dynamic environment. 

This summary was written by Emily Nicholls.

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