Salesforce is a cloud-based software company with applications that help businesses manage customers in every step of the customer journey, from lead to loyalty. The service Salesforce provides its customers is profoundly based on Open Source software from many sources. In 2014, Salesforce donated Open Source Phoenix to Apache (now called Apache Phoenix), and continues to contribute to thousands of Open Source projects every year.
We asked Alyssa Gravelle, Senior Program Manager, Open Source to share the organization’s intrinsic ties to Open Source, its reasons for supporting the Open Source Initiative, and its hopes for the Open Source movement. Here’s what she said:
Open Source has been part of Salesforce from the beginning. As an organization, we know that Open Source drives our industry forward, kick-starts new careers and builds trust in the products we create. From using projects, making improvements and sharing our most impactful innovations with the Open Source community, we get to leave it better than we found it.
We encourage all of our employees to contribute to and use Open Source, from key technologies powering our innovation to community projects that make our world a better place. Open Source is becoming a larger part of our culture at Salesforce. In fact, employees can participate in Open Source projects as a part of our Volunteer Time Off benefit. Volunteering is a core value of the company, and our employees can log up to 56 volunteer hours contributing, as long as the project is philanthropic in nature and is not part of their day job. In 2023, our goal is to log 750 volunteer hours. We have employees volunteering to projects such as Refuge Restrooms, aXe, and Ushahidi, in addition to projects owned by foundations such as the CNCF.
Open Source is also becoming a larger part of our products at Salesforce. It was always core to various initiatives and products, such as Heroku and Mulesoft, and it is now built into Hyperforce and Dataweave. Investing more than ever in Open Source, Salesforce now has a dedicated Open Source Programs Office (OSPO) with support from legal and security, and the OSS Core team, a group of volunteers passionate about Open Source, work to drive the success of Open Source at Salesforce.
There are several other Open Source initiatives Salesforce is focused on:
- Dataweave CLI: The DataWeave Language is a simple, powerful tool used to query and transform data inside of Mulesoft. DataWeave supports a variety of transformations: simple one-to-one, one-to-many or many-to-one mappings from an assortment of data structures, and can complete more elaborate mappings including normalization, grouping, joins, partitioning, pivoting and filtering.
- Buildpacks: Initially used primarily with Heroku, we are proud of the impactful contribution we’ve made with Cloud Native Buildpacks. We are maintainers of the Buildpacks project, which takes application source code and produces a runnable OCI image. The project was contributed to the CNCF Sandbox in 2018 and graduated to Incubation in 2020. For most Heroku users, Buildpacks remove the worry of how to package your application for deployment, and we are expanding our use of Buildpacks internally in conjunction with our Kubernetes-based Hyperforce initiative.
- FOSS Fund: Each quarter Salesforce’s Open Source contributors nominate and vote on a project that is essential to our work at Salesforce. The winning project is awarded $10,000. We started at the beginning of 2020 and have 11 projects we have funded so far. We will continue to support one project per quarter in 2023.
- Internal Open Source Conference: We hosted our second internal Open Source Conference in 2022, with global presentations in both the AMER and APAC time zones. Salesforce will continue to grow this as we focus on providing tools and information to the Open Source community.
Why Salesforce Sponsors OSI
We recognize two main issues facing the Open Source community today. The first is the attempted redefinition and/or dilution of what an Open Source license means. The second is the complexity of tracking and fixing Open Source security related problems.
OSI-certified licenses are known and trusted commodities. As the steward of the Open Source Definition (OSD), OSI takes a hard stance against Open Source licenses that don’t abide by the OSD, guaranteeing that the rights and freedoms associated with Open Source are maintained and honored. At Salesforce, we recognize the importance of this in keeping Open Source as entrenched and successful as it is. We consider OSI a key partner in the Open Source ecosystem as an impartial “safe-space” for Open Source engagement, education and compliance. OSI’s focus on the security and maintenance of Open Source projects, and its insights and guidance are invaluable.
In the coming year, it would be useful for OSI to extend its focus on the “rank and file” membership; the individual contributor in Open Source. Companies and organizations have plenty of foundations which empower their voices and reach, but very, very few Open Source foundations focus on the community of people, which serve as the life-blood and catalysts for innovative Open Source. In the words of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax: “Who speaks for the trees?” OSI should be one of the loudest and clearest voices for the individual community.