Content By Devops .com
Scarf today exited stealth to launch a gateway that makes it simpler for individuals or organizations to track usage of open source software.
Avi Press, founder of Scarf, said the Scarf Gateway is an online service through which providers of open source software can redirect downloads from a wide range of repositories and registries. That extra step then provides those entities with data and insights about the type of individuals and organizations using their software.
Fresh off raising initial seed funding, Press said the Scarf Gateway will make it easier for developers of open source software to employ multiple repositories to distribute their code, because they won’t become overly dependent on metrics shared by the provider of a single repository.
Most of those registries today only provide download counts for packages. Scarf Gateway will provide insights into, among other attributes, downloads by version, platform, location, company and cloud environment(s).
The majority of organizations making open source software available don’t have a lot of visibility into how their offerings are being employed until organizations using the software sign up for commercial support. Armed with more insights into how their software is being used, many of those providers would be able to more proactively collect feedback, in addition to promoting their commercial services.
Many open source project maintainers have a difficult time prioritizing what capabilities to add or fix, simply because they don’t know enough about how their software is being employed, Press said.
The ability to more granularly track usage comes at a time when tensions over open source monetization and compensation are rising. In many cases, providers of open source software are changing the way they license their software to prevent cloud service providers from reaping most of the benefits of their work. Startups, typically funded by venture capitalists, make their software available as open source code in an effort to build a customer base on the strength of their support services. Cloud service providers have discovered they can take the code these vendors create to launch their own service. Those cloud service providers may contribute code to the project, but the startup vendor doesn’t typically enjoy any of the economic benefits.
Many individual contributors don’t work for a company that sponsors their contributions, and also want to be paid for their efforts. A survey of 4,440 developers who actively participated in open source projects in 2020 finds more than half (54%) of respondents said they feel individuals should be paid for their contributions to open source projects. The survey, conducted by Digital Ocean, a cloud service provider, found only 14% of respondents are currently paid for their contributions.
It’s too early to say what impact the ability to track usage of open source software may have. Many individuals using open source software may prefer their current level of anonymity. Others might participate more in a project if engaged. Like it or not, however, large swaths of the open source community want to know the degree to which their efforts are making an actual difference.