As a pioneer in cloud computing, Salesforce realized early on that transparency is the key to trust. With one of the world’s first public uptime monitors and one of the world’s first public web APIs (in February of 2000), the company’s leadership knew from the start that being open about technology was the only way to earn customer trust.
Like other companies founded in the ’90s, however, Salesforce predated the explosion of open source as the game changer it is now. Certainly, major parts of the technology stack (like Linux and Java) have always been open source, but the majority of the code that runs the product is proprietary by default. As attitudes have shifted toward open source in the world, Salesforce leadership has moved along with them. But the question is: how do you turn a belief into reality?
The fact is, even if your company “gets” open source, that doesn’t mean it’s easy, especially if you have well-established practices around IT and product development. The challenges mount, one after another: What about legal concerns? What about intellectual property? How will you decide what to open source? How will you maintain strong security?
Regina Burkebile and Ian Varley candidly discuss the cultural and process challenges Salesforce has faced and the path it has taken. These days, Salesforce releases new open source projects regularly and employs full-time committers on many projects, including HBase, Ruby, and Postgres. It has an active nonprofit open source arm in Salesforce.org and contributes ongoing development across hundreds of open source projects. To support this, Salesforce has streamlined many of its processes, built in proactive education for all engineers, and started a virtual team to support better tooling and faster turnaround time. Through their discussion, Regina and Ian will help you learn how to move the needle in your organization so that you (and ultimately, your customers) succeed.
Based in Austin, TX, Ian Varley currently works on the core infrastructure development team at Salesforce.com. Ian holds a master’s degree in software engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. His thesis, “No Relation: The Mixed Blessings Of Non-Relational Databases,” was an early and widely cited analysis of design patterns in NoSQL databases.
With almost two decades in tech, Regina Burkebile is a marketing maven by day and a baby burper by night. Regina is the director of engineering marketing at Salesforce, where she helped launch the open source virtual team in addition to leading efforts that encourage engineers to share more about their innovations with the industry through events, blogs, and social media.
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