Open Source Software Advice

Bruce Cairns provides Rumbo’s specialist open source software (OSS) consultancy service.

OSS is now used by most businesses in one form or another. It brings great benefits, including economy of cost and speeding up software projects.  It also brings risks – for both users and suppliers of software.

Many businesses are aware that there are risks, but don’t know how to deal with the problem. Getting authoritative advice can be difficult. There can be many responses, which include:

  • excessive worry, leading to a complete (but probably ignored) ban on the use of OSS
  • the assumption that everything will be fine – in effect treating OSS code as “freeware” (which it is not)
  • the most common response – not knowing what to do, and parking the issue in the face of other things that seem more pressing

We help our clients to understand and deal with the risks of OSS, so that you can fully enjoy the benefits without worry.  We work with you to navigate through the complexities, so that you can use OSS confidently and successfully in your business.

The services we provide include:

Education

This is usually in the form of seminars/webinars, tailored to your business needs. These can include your relevant executives, IT staff and in-house legal/compliance people (to suit you).  Topics usually include:

  • the real risks of OSS (as opposed to the myths)
  • the specific risks to your business
  • the different types of OSS licence and how to comply with the licence terms
  • how to avoid pitfalls, including the well-known but often misunderstood “copyleft” (meaning that  in some cases a software supplier may be required to license their proprietary code on open source terms)
  • why and how to implement OSS policies, and how to manage OSS in future
  • contracting risks and solutions

Audit and advice on action

  • If you already know what OSS you use, we can tell you what impact the applicable licences have on your business. This includes very practical and specific advice as to what to do so that you can use the OSS safely to meet your business needs. These changes usually involve developing procedures to comply with licence requirements to provide source code, notices etc., and can sometimes also include re-engineering the links between OSS and proprietary code
  • If you are not sure what OSS you use, and especially if there are reasons for concern (we help you identify those reasons), we can work with Black Duck, the leading OSS scanning business. They identify all the OSS in your code base, and we can then work with you to develop your strategy
  • In particularly complex cases we can work with specialised consultant software engineers, and together we can advise on the specific engineering steps needed to mitigate licence compliance risks
  • We often help our clients with very specific queries – such as “How can we safely use this particular OSS programme and integrate it into our products?”

Documents

We produce documents for you, including:

  • standard contract terms – whether you are an IT supplier or user, your contracts need to deal with the inclusion of OSS code. This is especially important for suppliers
  • your OSS policy
  • OSS documentary toolkits for use by your staff

Above all, we ensure that our advice is commercial and practical, not just theoretical. Some clients like to understand all the theory and detail of the OSS licences and implications, while others just want to know what to do next – we tailor everything to your needs and expectations, and we will be very clear with you about cost.

Our aim is to help you to use OSS successfully and safely in your business.

For more information, please get in touch with us.

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