Your DevOps Solution: Mixing Open Source and Commercial Software

handshakeI’m going to open with a fact that should hopefully be obvious: Few organizations have a completely manual software release process.

I can imagine you saying things like “Duh! So what? What’s your point?”

The fact that partial solutions to software release problems are already in place poses an interesting problem for software vendors.  Some vendors pursue a policy of attempting to replace existing tools with their own products.  Others, including Serena, believe in co-existing with and adding value to solutions they have already invested time and effort in using.

A strategy of co-existence between commercial software vendors is not new. A problem often presents itself culturally when open source enters the equation.  Those of us that use open source solutions tend to be rather passionate about them, and I count myself amongst those people.  The cultural problem that presents itself is that some people are “open source purists.”  In this sort of situation there is a heavy bias to using a combination of open source and homegrown software.  While this is great in theory, the fact is that there are only a relatively small number of companies that have the combination of the right number of staff and the right skillset to pull this off.

For most organizations complementing open source and homegrown software with commercial solutions makes sense, but when and how?

In the enterprise, the flow of information can be extremely complex.  Gathering this information, presenting a unified view of the information and using it to influence behavior in a workflow is a difficult task.  For example, human and computer processes need to be modeled and many systems need to be integrated.

A holistic, process-based approach, handling the flow of information between systems using integrations, is an area where commercial software can add significant value on top of open source and homegrown solutions.

So how do you get started, what should you look for in a vendor when mixing open source and commercial software?

  • Look at the list of integrations to other tools that the vendor provides.
  • Does replacing part of a vendor stack with open source lead to significantly reduced capabilities in the vendor solution?
  • Is there an API so that integrations can be extended to suit your needs?

When selecting open source solutions to co–exist with other solutions:

  • Ensure that the tool has either a command line interface or, better yet, an API.
  • How active is the community, are enhancement requests and bug fixes actively worked on?
  • Is it possible to export data easily and backup configurations and data?

I’ll continue to blog about this topic and others related to DevOps.  So I encourage you to subscribe to the Serena Blog and catch all upcoming posts.


Jonathan Thorpe is Product Marketing Manager for all things DevOps and Continuous Delivery at Serena Software. Previously Jonathan worked as a Systems Analyst at Electric Cloud, specializing in DevOps-related solutions. Jonathan holds a degree in Computing Systems from Nottingham Trent University.



Comments

[...] People were especially interested in how Serena solutions can track release content and automate application deployments.  They were keen to use their existing solutions, which works well for Serena as we have a policy of coexistence.  You can read more about mixing commercial and open source software in my recent blog post. [...]

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