'Inside Microsoft's Open Source Program Office'

On Friday VentureBeat published a new interview with Stormy Peters, the director of Microsoft’s eight-person open source programs office:

“These are exciting times as more and more organizations are engaging more with open source,” Peters said. “It’s also just as important to developers to be able to use open source in their work — jobs that involve open source are more likely to retain developers.”

However, the growing threat of software supply chain attacks and other security issues, not to mention all the license and compliance complexities, puts considerable pressure on developers and engineers when all they really want to be doing is building products. And that, ultimately, is what the OSPO is all about. “OSPOs help make sure your developers can move quickly,” Peters said. “Without an OSPO, teams across Microsoft would probably have to do a lot more manual compliance work, and they would all have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to understanding open source licenses, compliance, best practices, and community — we know they’d do well, but we want to help them do even better and faster by learning from each other and using tools standard across the company.”

Open source program offices have evolved greatly through the years, according to Peters, with two specific changes standing out in terms of scope and industry adoption. “OSPOs no longer focus solely on license compliance and intellectual property concerns — we now help with best practices, training, outreach, and more,” Peters explained. “And, it’s no longer just tech companies that have OSPOs.” Indeed, a recent survey from TODO Group, a membership-based organization for collaborating and sharing best practices around open source projects, found that while OSPO adoption is still at its highest in the tech industry, other industries such as education and the public sector are gaining steam… “We want to reduce friction and make it easier for employees to use open source — that includes using and contributing to open source software, as well as launching projects in the community…”

“Our job is to help make it easier for employees to use and contribute to open source,” Peters explained. “We work with all the groups to help set policy, empower employees with knowledge and tools, and consult different groups across Microsoft and others in the industry on their open source strategy.”