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  • Writer's pictureNATALIA SOUSA

A New Open-source Initiative launched by Porsche.

Porsche says that it is essential to embrace software as one of its core competencies to help it meet future challenges. The company says it already uses open-source software widely. Now, thanks to a newly created control process, employees can more easily participate in its development and publish code on the GitHub development platform.

Free and open-source software (FOSS) is ubiquitous in the digital world, be it in web browsers, operating systems or online encyclopaedia's. Basically, source code worth many billions of euros, freely available on the internet and can be used and modified by anyone. FOSS is also playing an increasingly important role in Porsche's software ecosystem. From mobile apps to control units in the vehicle, much of today's software uses open source components.

"The benefits are multifaceted," says Nik Peters, head of Porsche Open Source Office, "ranging from high levels of software maturity and transparency to lower costs, faster development cycles, and a shorter time-to-market."

Porsche says it is now expanding its commitment further. The company has created a process for submitting and publishing code on the GitHub development platform, specifically aimed at software developers and subsidiaries such as Porsche Digital. In addition, employees can contribute to open source and publish code. Porsche is also broadening its online presence. The sports car manufacturer now has an official profile on GitHub – a leading developer platform for open-source software, claiming 50 million-plus users.

Porsche says it is establishing a gateway to a software community comprising millions of developers. The aim is to promote cooperation in software development outside the corporate group and profitably share existing know-how. For example, employees can find mentors on GitHub or support other developers as mentors themselves. At the same time, Porsche will specifically promote employees as contributors and constantly expand their expertise to create even better software.

The first project that has been published in part on GitHub comes from Porsche Digital. The team around lead engineer Patrick Puritscher has developed a component for cookie consent management that is easy to use and can be customised flexibly. This solution is suitable for small landing pages and larger web projects and is already in use at VIN Art, Cyklaer and Sounce. The focus of the open-source strategy is on in-house developments and new initiatives and participation in or contribution to existing third-party projects. Every employee is encouraged to play an active role in GitHub projects and advance the worldwide open source community as a contributor.

Unlike commercial, conventionally licensed software, the source code of open source is publicly accessible and can be used and edited by anyone to develop their own software solutions. Open source presents considerable risks, such as unintentional licence violations.

Porsche has implemented extensive safeguards to avoid these problems. From developer to component engineer to team leader, everyone involved must observe certain rules and principles regarding FOSS. The Open Source Office around Nik Peters' team checks compliance with the new control process and leads by example. In cooperation with the Open Source Offices of Bosch and Here, the Porsche Open Source Office acts as a contributor on GitHub. Together, the teams are developing the OSS Review Toolkit (ORT) to ensure compliance. As a member of the ToDo Group, to which Adobe, SAP, and Netflix are also affiliated, Porsche Open Source Office is joining forces with other technology leaders. The goal is to learn from each other and advance open source together.