"Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow," says the Linus' Law.
What the law, named in honor of Linus Torvalds, means is that the more people who can see and test a set of code, the more likely any flaws will be caught and fixed quickly - the very premise on which the concept of open source is based.
However, quality check is the least of the reasons for going open source. Today, an organization that propogates a culture of open source is not just seen as progressive and innovative, it also wins itself exclusive bragging rights and is seen as an aspirational workplace for developers.
Github is one of the largest communities where developers host and review code, manage projects, and build software along with others.
There are more than 75,000 profiles on Github in India. The Belong Research team looked at the overall Github landscape in India, identified the top 5,000 contributors and found out what kind of companies they work for and what kind of universities they graduated from.
This is what we found:
Part 1: The 75,000 Github profiles in India
Amazon has the highest number of registered Github users
We looked at the Github universe in India and found that Amazon had the highest number of registered users on Github, followed by Cognizant, TCS and Microsoft. Among the top eight companies with most number of users, there were only three product companies.
ITES make up most of the numbers, contribute less
We segmented the companies based on industries - ITES, Computer Software, Internet and BFSI. We found that ITES sector had the most number of Github users, 41% to be exact. However, when it came to actual open source contributions, the percentage fell to 22% among the top 200 contributors.
Only 6% of Github users are women
While women take up 26% of tech jobs in India, the percentage of women active on Github in India is just 6%. Amazon, Microsoft, Cisco and Thoughtworks have the highest female Github users. They come from universities such as BITS, VTU, University of Pune and Anna University.
For the next part of the study, we looked at the top 5,000 open source contributors.
Part 2: Top 5,000 open source contributors in India
Note: We defined top contributor as anyone who had more than 5 followers and factored only contributions made in the last 3 years.
This is what we found.
Developers from Amazon contribute the most to open source
Looking at the top 5,000 open source contributors, we found that most of the developers came from Amazon (144), followed by Microsoft at 94 and Thoughtworks at 85. Seven out of the top nine companies with open source contributions were product companies.
BITS produces most open source contributors
We found that among the top 5,000 contributors, 208 developers came from BITS Pilani, followed by VIT and IIT Kharagpur. This is how the numbers look.
Part 3: Top 200 open source contributors in India
For the third part of the study, we looked at the very cream of Github users. We only analyzed the top 200 contributors.
This is what we found.
Most of the top 200 contributors work for product startups
Most of the top 200 contributors don't work for the big brands. As many as 67% of the top 200 contributors work for product and service companies with less than 200 employees, once again showing that hiring for quality developers doesn't equate to sourcing from big names.
Less than 14% of top 200 went to premier universities
Defying all trends and myths, we found that most of the top 200 contributors came from Tier 2 universities. Less than 14% came from premier institutions such as IITs, NITs and BITS.
How an open source culture helps attract great talent
From a patent-driven culture to open sourcing technologies core to the business, tech organizations have come a long way in the way they innovate and iterate on the product. Organizations are realizing that a company is only as good as its people and not the technologies they are building or built in the past.
In the recent past, Google open-sourced its AI platform that powers its search (TensorFlow) and Facebook quickly followed suit to open source some of its AI engine (Torch) that enables auto-tagging of photos.
Microsoft, which once took a position on the very opposite end of the spectrum, has in the last 5 years made a huge headway when it comes to open source contributions.
Before Cloud, OS was the platform on top of which apps were built. When Cloud became the Platform, the question for Microsoft was whether to only support Windows developers or go after the entire developer base that worked on Windows & Open Source," said Harish Vaidyanathan, who is an ex-Microsoft employee.
"Then there's the skill, agility and innovation angle. No matter how many people you hire, you can never out-hire the world. And the question becomes, ‘do I have to do all the work,” and “where is the best innovation happening," he added.
Harish talked about how Microsoft initially took to open source to enhance its own projects. It later encouraged its engineers to contribute to open source but with discretion about carefully choosing the kind of projects they worked on so that it didn't conflict with their core IP.
Belong's CTO Vinodh Kumar Ravindranath, who worked with Google from 2006-2012, said, "In the 1990s and 2000s, organizations used to have more of a patent-driven IP protectionist culture. Today, we are seeing big companies open source some of their hard-core IP and innovations."
"To attract the best talent, it is no longer enough to say what you have done or even show the final product. Through open source, organizations are revealing the kind of technology they have built and the people working on the problem in a bid to woo all relevant top-notch talent into their teams," Vinodh added.
Today, open source contribution has become one of the decisive factors for developers while choosing what organizations they want to work with and what problems they want to solve. In the war for talent, it's the organizations which foster a culture of open source that are winning.