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Everyday Life of an Open-Source Company: The Story of VSHN

Everyday Life of an Open-Source Company: The Story of VSHN

Transparency, accountability, and curiosity are some of our core values at VSHN, the DevOps Company. Open Source is one of the mechanisms we use to translate those values into products and services for our customers. In this talk, Adrian will explain how Open Source helps us shape our activities, way of thinking, and products.

Talk delivered at the Swiss Re TEC Conference on October 6th, 2022.

Adrian Kosmaczewski

October 06, 2022

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  1. VSHN – The DevOps Company Adrian Kosmaczewski, Developer Relations Everyday

    Life of an Open-Source Company The Story of VSHN On behalf of VSHN, I would like to thank you, particularly Tobias Weinmann and the Swiss Re TEC Conference 2022 team, for the invitation to talk at this event. Open Source software has become the most critical infrastructure in the modern world in the past 20 years. In this talk, we’re going to analyze how VSHN decided to become an Open Source company, how we organized ourselves towards that goal, what benefits it has brought to us, and what it could bring to you. Speaker notes 1
  2. VSHN – The DevOps Company Pronounced ˈvɪʒn – like "vision":

    The DevOps Company Founded 2014, 50 VSHNeers located in Zürich and Vancouver Switzerland’s leading DevOps, Docker & Kubernetes partner 24/7 support ISO 27001 certified, ISAE 3402 Report Type 1 verified First Swiss Kubernetes Certified Service Provider This talk will discuss how VSHN embraces the Open Source philosophy to its core. But maybe some of you don’t know us yet! VSHN is a company founded in Zurich in 2014 to help organizations to become more agile and to be able to release better software more often. We are 50 VSHNeers (that’s how we call ourselves) near Hauptbahnhof Zürich, of which around 35 have engineering or technical responsibilities. We offer 24/7 monitoring to our customers and specialize in Kubernetes and OpenShift technologies. Speaker notes 2
  3. VSHN – The DevOps Company We are resellers and partners

    of a long list of very well- known names in the industry… Speaker notes 3
  4. VSHN – The DevOps Company …and we also have three

    main products, which we will discuss today. Speaker notes 4
  5. VSHN – The DevOps Company We love Open Source at

    VSHN. We use a lot of Open Source projects every day, and we have released a few of our own. Speaker notes 5
  6. VSHN – The DevOps Company Espejo Kubernetes object syncer Floaty

    Cloud integration for Keepalived Garacho VSHN Package Cache K8up Kubernetes Backup Operator Krossa Kubernetes object list splitter Larawan Automated VM image builds using Packer Locutor Ansible callback plugin GitHub GitHub GitLab k8up.io GitLab GitLab GitLab In our day-to-day work, we have developed to make our job more manageable, some of which are Open Source. Here’s an interesting point: we Open Sourced tools that "scratched a particular itch" in our work. We started by creating the tools we needed, and by making them Open Source, we realized many other people had similar needs. We think this is a great way to get into Open Source because you provide value to your customers and the community. Speaker notes quite a few tools 6
  7. VSHN – The DevOps Company Another thing that sets VSHN

    apart is its ultra-flat organizational structure. We use as our corporate framework, and we have a profoundly participative management model. Everyone in the organization is entitled (and expected) to provide feedback and new ideas and trigger discussions about any concept at any time. VSHNeers can change everything in the organization through discussion and consensus. All of these things are very important to us. Speaker notes Sociocracy 3.0 7
  8. VSHN – The DevOps Company We have documented our way

    of working in an extensive open to everyone to read and explore. The printed material of the current version of this Handbook is more than 500 pages long! It contains details about many different things and how we conduct business. Speaker notes VSHN Handbook 8
  9. VSHN – The DevOps Company Among the various pages of

    the Handbook, we have stated . Accountability: We take ownership for what we say and produce. Positivity: We are optimists and think in solutions rather than problems. Effectivity: We favor work that brings us closer to our goals. Integrity: We are objective, communicate in a direct open fashion, give and accept constructive criticism. Curiosity: We are open to learn about new and innovative ways to achieve our goals. Transparency: … Speaker notes our values 9
  10. VSHN – The DevOps Company Transparency We actively share our

    knowledge both internally and externally, be it in documentation (Open Source) or communication. We believe that collaborating with other experts over company borders produces win-win results. Open Source is critical at VSHN to fulfill our commitment to Transparency. Speaker notes 10
  11. VSHN – The DevOps Company The term "Open Source" had

    been floating around media and tech circles for decades, but it was in January 1998 when it found its current meaning. Speaker notes 11
  12. VSHN – The DevOps Company A few days later, on

    February 3rd, 1998, a working group led by proposed the use of the term "Open Source" to distinguish it from "Free Software" and its associated movement and licensing policies as started by Richard Stallman in 1985. Stallman has since himself and the Free Software movement from Open Source. Speaker notes Christine Peterson distanced 13
  13. VSHN – The DevOps Company I explain the creation of

    a particular kind of software–open source software– as an experiment in social organization around a distinctive notion of property. (…) Open Source got a better definition thanks to Professor of the University of Berkeley, California. Speaker notes Steven Weber 14
  14. VSHN – The DevOps Company (…) The conventional notion of

    property is, of course, the right to exclude you from using something that belongs to me. (…) No notes on this slide. Speaker notes 15
  15. VSHN – The DevOps Company (…) Property in open source

    is configured fundamentally around the right to distribute, not the right to exclude. "The right to distribute" is a crucial phrase. Open Source projects have a copyright, and nobody other than the author can claim it. Still, they are licensed so that nobody can prevent others from running, enjoying, and even reusing parts of programs according to their needs. Speaker notes 16
  16. VSHN – The DevOps Company The previous quote was taken

    from this book. At the end of this presentation you will find links to this and other books, reports, and blog posts about Open Source. Speaker notes 17
  17. VSHN – The DevOps Company So now you know a

    bit more about VSHN and the concept of Open Source, let us talk about our commitment to it. We can only properly talk about what we experience, so in this talk, I’m going to go through three concrete examples, all taking us to where we are today. I’m going to tell you the story of the following projects. We will distill from these the core ideas that have made them become the successful projects they are now. Speaker notes 18
  18. VSHN – The DevOps Company Kubernetes Backup Operator K8up is

    a Kubernetes operator fulfilling a single, simple, and critical role: backups. We started the project because we needed to back up storage in the Kubernetes clusters that we manage for our customers. Speaker notes 19
  19. VSHN – The DevOps Company We kicked off the project

    in 2018. It is quite a small one; it encapsulates a backup utility called , written in Go, as a Kubernetes operator ready to be deployed with a Helm chart. It drives Restic to store data streams into S3-compatible object storage. That is all it does, and that is all it needs to do. Speaker notes Restic 20
  20. VSHN – The DevOps Company One of the essential things

    about K8up is the intense focus on documentation from the first day. We wanted our users to be able to install, use, and even troubleshoot K8up without our participation. Given our small size, we cannot afford to offer full support to the project; however, we offer paid support to our customers who would like to use it. Our commercial activities give sustainability to the project in the long run. Speaker notes 21
  21. VSHN – The DevOps Company In 2019 we created a

    for it, using , an Open Source documentation website generator. We populated that documentation with , , and even a for new users. Speaker notes website Antora specifications instructions getting started tutorial 22
  22. VSHN – The DevOps Company In 2020 we moved the

    code to . We of K8up in March 2021. Speaker notes its own GitHub organization released version 1.0 23
  23. VSHN – The DevOps Company In November 2021 that year,

    the . As you can imagine, this major milestone still makes us very proud. Speaker notes CNCF accepted K8up as an onboarding project 24
  24. VSHN – The DevOps Company This is the announcement on

    our blog. The project is in version 2.5, and we’ve been using it in production for over four years without interruption. Having the support of the CNCF means we get access to a broader pool of software engineers in the Open Source space, which means more feedback, more pull requests, and a better project overall. Speaker notes 25
  25. VSHN – The DevOps Company The project is open to

    contributions from external developers. Inside VSHN, we have a set of core developers who take care of reviewing and eventually accepting third-party pull requests. We also use to get in touch with our users, who gladly provide us with feedback and ideas for future evolutions. Very important: we at VSHN use this discussion forum to talk about K8up! Not only reserved for external communication, but we make all discussions about the project and all decisions visible to everyone. Take, for example, about architectural matters in the project, handled exclusively by VSHNeers. Finally, we released the project with an . Speaker notes GitHub’s discussion forums this discussion Apache 2.0 license 26
  26. VSHN – The DevOps Company Documentation enables self-service. Listening to

    your users makes the project better. You could end up being noticed by some big names! What did we learn with K8up? So, what are the three main takeaway points of the K8up experience? Speaker notes 27
  27. VSHN – The DevOps Company Suite of tools to manage

    Kubernetes clusters The second Open Source contribution I would like to talk about is Project Syn. It was born out of yet another internal itch we needed to scratch, for which there was no solution on the market. Not all companies have to manage as many Kubernetes clusters as we do; we have hundreds of them to take care of, some belonging to us and some to our customers. And through our work, we quickly realized that we were repeating ourselves a lot, so it made sense to automate the tedious parts of our work and create a set of tools to do them instead. Interestingly, Project Syn began with a series of discussions called the , or SDD for short. The defines what a Syn Design Document is! Speaker notes "Syn Design Documents" first SDD 28
  28. VSHN – The DevOps Company SDDs are very similar in

    form and function to the famous that have shaped the Internet and the World Wide Web… Speaker notes "RFC" documents 29
  29. VSHN – The DevOps Company … or (Kubernetes Enhancement Proposals)

    used to drive the Kubernetes project. Speaker notes KEPs 30
  30. VSHN – The DevOps Company The team at VSHN in

    charge of Project Syn gathered for a few weeks and discussed (and documented) in detail every decision around Project Syn. You can check them out on , where they stay for future reference. Speaker notes the Project Syn website 31
  31. VSHN – The DevOps Company The discussion around each SDD

    happened in a separate GitHub pull request, like, for example, , one of the components of Project Syn. So, here’s the exciting gist: to start our work, we didn’t just jump at our keyboards and start cranking code. We sat down and thought, what is Project Syn? How would it work? Where and how would secrets be stored? What naming rules would we apply? And much more. This analysis phase yielded better code in the short term than anyone would have thought. Speaker notes the one around Steward 32
  32. VSHN – The DevOps Company And no, this does not

    go against the principles of the : The first version of Project Syn was put in production merely one month after the start of the project, and we released the code in Open Source from the very first day. The whole process of creating Project Syn was available for everyone to see at . We released the source code of the Project Syn components using the . Speaker notes Agile Manifesto That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more. its GitHub organization 3-Clause BSD license 33
  33. VSHN – The DevOps Company Analysis and architecture go a

    long way and save you money. Open discussions make the software better in the long run. Write your design decisions down, and store them for future reference. What did we learn with Project Syn? What are the most important three things we learnt from Project Syn? Speaker notes 34
  34. VSHN – The DevOps Company OPaaS: OpenShift Projects as a

    Service The final product we’re going to talk about today is . What is it? Well, we need a bit of history here. Speaker notes APPUiO Cloud 35
  35. VSHN – The DevOps Company In 2016 VSHN and (an

    IT and software consulting company with offices in Bern and Zurich) launched a joint venture called APPUiO. Speaker notes Puzzle ITC 36
  36. VSHN – The DevOps Company This word has many meanings:

    not only is it a word in Esperanto meaning "support," but it is also composed of "App" (for application) and "Ujo," which is Esperanto for "container." Speaker notes 37
  37. VSHN – The DevOps Company APPUiO comprises a series of

    products built around , the most widely used Kubernetes- based platform in the enterprise world. Installing and operating OpenShift is very complex, and many companies cannot use OpenShift because of the lack of staff or budget. APPUiO is our response to the complexity of Red Hat OpenShift. With APPUiO, customers can get a ready-to- use cluster with the know-how of VSHN and Puzzle ITC. We at VSHN specialize in setting up and maintaining OpenShift clusters; we have been operating OpenShift clusters since version 3. Speaker notes Red Hat OpenShift 38
  38. VSHN – The DevOps Company APPUiO Cloud is the latest

    offering in the APPUiO family, officially launched in November 2021. It offers customer access to private namespaces (or "OpenShift projects," as Red Hat names them) in a ready-to-run, shared cluster. Speaker notes 39
  39. VSHN – The DevOps Company APPUiO Cloud is available in

    two different zones: one in cloudscale.ch in Kanton Aargau. Speaker notes 40
  40. VSHN – The DevOps Company … and another in Exoscale

    au Canton de Genève. APPUiO Cloud also offers pre-installed operators, like K8up, to enable users to perform backups of their storage media. Speaker notes 41
  41. VSHN – The DevOps Company Building on our commitment to

    Open Source to create APPUiO Cloud, we leveraged Project Syn. We implemented new components allowing us to encapsulate all the knowledge required to install, manage, and support various APPUiO Cloud clusters, wherever they are: and . And these components are 100% open source, of course. It’s easier for our customers to understand how APPUiO Cloud runs, increasing their trust. Speaker notes appuio-cloud appuio-cloud- reporting 42
  42. VSHN – The DevOps Company Finally, we decided to .

    Our customers can now directly influence our priorities by voting on existing topics or suggesting new ones. Speaker notes open our complete product roadmap 43
  43. VSHN – The DevOps Company Customers trust Open Source code,

    and that affects sales positively. Our platform performs much better and is more attractive, thanks to the feedback provided by our users. Using our tools (K8up and Project Syn) in a real-life scenario made those tools even better than ever. There was a retro-feedback effect at play, unlocking synergies. Building on other Open Source projects allows you to move quicker! What did we learn with APPUiO Cloud? What three outcomes did we get from our Open Source experience with APPUiO Cloud? Speaker notes 44
  44. VSHN – The DevOps Company Ten Principles for Open Source

    Based on our own experience, we can say that we took ten significant steps that helped us work better in an Open Source world. Speaker notes 45
  45. VSHN – The DevOps Company 1. Build a culture of

    safety and experimentation First and foremost, every VSHNeer can experiment and try new technologies and approaches with utmost psychological safety. It is crucial to be able to learn and discover, and we built VSHN so that everyone can do that. Releasing code as Open Source is a way to take a measured risk, knowing that the worst that can happen is that nobody else cares about your project as strongly as you do. Speaker notes 46
  46. VSHN – The DevOps Company 2. Have an Open Source

    champion At VSHN, every one of our Open Source projects has one or many advocates ready to build a case internally to justify the investment, engage with the community, and contribute to the project’s success in the long run. At least one or two people must stand behind the newly Open Sourced project, sustaining the collaboration and providing guidelines. They should have enough authority internally to drive the project and externally to be actual advocates of its benefits. Speaker notes 47
  47. VSHN – The DevOps Company 3. Scratch your itch We

    started by solving issues that slowed us down and made us ineffective. We believe those are the best starting points for any Open Source project because you are not the only one who needs to scratch that itch. Others will jumpstart and help you faster than you can imagine. Speaker notes 48
  48. VSHN – The DevOps Company 4. Choose a liberal license

    At VSHN, we chose "liberal" licensing schemas for our Open Source projects, such as Apache or BSD. They work better in corporate settings, where our customers might reuse our code together with proprietary code. Unless your product incorporates code released under the (which features a "viral clause,") we recommend that you do not publish your code using the GPL. Speaker notes GNU General Public License 49
  49. VSHN – The DevOps Company 5. Open not only your

    source code but its analysis, too As I mentioned in the discussion of Project Syn, we made our discussions open; many Open Source projects die, not because nobody is using the code, but because the community does not see any activity other than commits around it. Showing you’re working on features by openly discussing them is a great way to keep a project alive and engage outside contributors. Speaker notes 50
  50. VSHN – The DevOps Company 6. Documentation is everything The

    key to a successful Open Source project is a self- service developer experience, starting with good documentation. Everyone is responsible for it, and project champions must ensure that it is comprehensive, correct, and up-to-date. Start with a README file, written so that any other developer can be productive with your code just by reading it. Use the wiki systems provided by GitHub or GitLab to pour your knowledge, and consider using a tool like to create a separate documentation website for your project. Finally, consider applying GitOps principles and release documentation with your code automatically. Speaker notes Antora 51
  51. VSHN – The DevOps Company 7. Listen to your community

    At VSHN, we realized that because they found our projects helpful, other users and other organizations gathered around our ideas, and many of them helped us succeed. Of course, some entitlement is going on, but for the most part, Open Source has been a fantastic way for us to get to know lots of potential future VSHNeers, test the market with new ideas, and create a better product at the end. Speaker notes 52
  52. VSHN – The DevOps Company 8. Contribute Open Source is

    not only about making available your source code to others but also helping others grow their projects. Start small by sending contributions to projects you often use and find helpful, like Visual Studio Code extensions or modules in whatever programming language you use daily. Get involved in projects critical to your work, and make yourself known by being helpful to others, replying to bug reports, or reviewing pull requests. And if you can’t contribute with your code or time, think about becoming a patron; a small monthly contribution means a lot to freelance developers maintaining Open Source projects. Speaker notes 53
  53. VSHN – The DevOps Company 9. Measure success If you

    have to justify your investment in Open Source to other stakeholders, you might want to refrain from vanity metrics such as the number of GitHub stars. Instead, count the number of pull requests your project has received and how many you have accepted. Count the number of tests in your code, counting those provided by third-party contributors. Keep track of references to your code in blogs or newsletters such as , , or other technical publications. Speaker notes Changelog TLDR 54
  54. VSHN – The DevOps Company 10. Learn from others Many

    other organizations are asking themselves how to publish some of their projects as Open Source. At the end of this talk, you will find plenty of references to books and blog posts, but we’d recommend you start with the series by Artsy Engineering, consisting of text and videos to give you some hints. In Switzerland, we have the chance of having great Open Source experts such as , , or , helping organizations pivot towards Open Source. They will help you make the most of your Open Source investment, both technologically and organizationally. Speaker notes Open Source by Default Puzzle ITC Sfera UnlockOpen 55
  55. VSHN – The DevOps Company 1. Build a culture of

    safety and experimentation 2. Have an Open Source champion 3. Scratch your itch 4. Choose a liberal license 5. Open not only your source code but its analysis, too 6. Documentation is everything 7. Listen to your community 8. Contribute 9. Measure success 10. Learn from others A quick summary of these ten principles. For VSHN, Open Source is a natural way of releasing code and interacting with our community. It is a way to embrace radical transparency and to get our customers to understand how we work and why we work that way. Speaker notes 56
  56. VSHN – The DevOps Company We at VSHN would love

    to see code in the in the future and collaborate with you wherever we feel we can contribute. Speaker notes Swiss Re GitHub page 57
  57. VSHN – The DevOps Company …but also a verb. "Open"

    isn’t just an adjective… The path to Open Source is not only about technical maturity or narcissism; it is, first and foremost, a path to significant organizational change. Speaker notes 58
  58. VSHN – The DevOps Company Adrian Kosmaczewski, Developer Relations –

    VSHN AG – Neugasse 10 – CH-8005 Zürich – +41 44 545 53 00 – – Thanks! [email protected] vshn.ch [email protected] Thank you very much for your attention! Speaker notes 59
  59. VSHN – The DevOps Company Books, reports, and blog posts

    to learn more about Open Source. References The following slides contains some links you might find helpful in your exploration of Open Source. Speaker notes 61
  60. VSHN – The DevOps Company by Artsy Engineering (2015-2018) by

    Titus Brown (2018) by Tobie Langel (2020) (2021) by Coiled (2020) Getting Started with Open Source Series: Open Source by Default How open is too open? Making the business case for contributing to open source Tobie Langel on Twitter about Open Source licenses Seven Stages of Open Software No notes on this slide. Speaker notes 62
  61. VSHN – The DevOps Company by Eric S. Raymond (1999)

    by Steven Weber (2004) by Daniele "Mte90" Scasciafratte (2022) by Karl Fogel (2020) Books The Cathedral and the Bazaar The Success of Open Source Contribute To Open Source: The Right Way Producing Open Source Software No notes on this slide. Speaker notes 63
  62. VSHN – The DevOps Company by Red Hat (2022) by

    the Linux Foundation (2020) by the Ford Foundation (2016) (2021) Industry Reports The State of Enterprise Open Source Solving technical debt with open source Roads and Bridges: The Unseen Labor Behind Our Digital Infrastructure SustainOSS Report No notes on this slide. Speaker notes 64
  63. VSHN – The DevOps Company by Matt Holt (2021) by

    Ben E. C. Boyter (2019) by Container Solutions (2022) by Brett Cannon (2021) Community The Asymmetry of Open Source The Three F's of Open Source Development Entitlement in Open Source The social contract of open source No notes on this slide. Speaker notes 65
  64. VSHN – The DevOps Company on Forbes (2021) by André

    Staltz (2022) on Infoworld (2021) Economics Open Source IPO Boom: What GitLab And Confluent Show Us About The Future Of Software Time Till Open Source Alternative Stop saying open source nonsense Dev corrupts NPM libs 'colors' and 'faker' breaking thousands of apps Comments by Tobie Langel No notes on this slide. Speaker notes 66
  65. VSHN – The DevOps Company by Dan Lorenc (2020) on

    The New Stack (2022) (2021) and (2022) Security Getting Serious About Open Source Security The Work-War Balance of Open Source Developers in Ukraine Linux Foundation announces $10 million cross-industry investment in Open Source Security Foundation White House reminds tech giants open source is a national security issue White House tackles "unique security challenges" faced by open source ecosystem during dedicated virtual summit No notes on this slide. Speaker notes 67
  66. VSHN – The DevOps Company (2021) on the Google Cloud

    Blog (2021) on The Register (2021) by amazee.io (2020) by VSHN (2022) Case Studies Open Source and Upbound The rise and future of Kubernetes and open source at Google 30 years of Linux: OS was successful because of how it was licensed, says Red Hat Proud to be global, distributed, and open source Creating a Product through DevOps: The Story of APPUiO Cloud No notes on this slide. Speaker notes 68
  67. VSHN – The DevOps Company on the Accenture Insurance Blog

    (2020) by Friendly (2022) on the Accenture Banking Blog (2020) by ungleich (2022) Beyond Open "Source" The Ultimate Guide to Open Insurance Open Startup Open Banking: KPIs to track for a secure ecosystem The Open Infrastructure Project No notes on this slide. Speaker notes 69