Porsche launches Open Source initiative

Porsche launches Open Source initiative

Business news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

The sports car manufacturer Porsche has recognised – like so many other carmakers – that not only the engineering of camshafts and transmissions are important for the future viability of a vehicle manufacturer, but also software as a core competence. Now Porsche is shifting up a gear when it comes to Open Source software.

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is ubiquitous in the digital world, whether in the form of web browsers, operating systems or online encyclopaedias. This is source code worth many billions of euros that is freely available on the internet and can be used and modified by anyone. Free and Open Source software is also playing an increasingly important role in Porsche’s software ecosystem: because, as the developers have recognised, whether it’s mobile apps or control units in the vehicle – hardly any software today can do without Open Source components. “The advantages of Open Source are many and varied, ranging from high software maturity levels and high transparency to cost savings, faster development cycles and shorter time-to-market,” comments Nik Peters, Head of Porsche Open Source Office.

Now Porsche is expanding its commitment and creating a process for submitting and publishing code on the GitHub development platform that is specifically aimed at software developers and subsidiaries such as Porsche Digital. This makes it easier for employees in the value chain to contribute to Open Source and publish code as “contributors”. But that’s not all: the car manufacturer is expanding its online presence and is now also represented with an official profile on GitHub. GitHub is the world’s leading developer platform for Open Source software and is used by more than 50 million people.

With its Open Source initiative, Porsche plans to build a bridge to the software community comprising millions of developers. The aim is to promote cooperation in software development outside the Group and to share existing know-how in a profitable way. For example, employees can find mentors on GitHub or support other developers as mentors themselves. At the same time, Porsche wants to specifically promote employees as “contributors” and enable them to constantly expand their expertise in order to develop even better software.

The first project to be published in part on GitHub as part of the Open Source initiative 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 flexibly adapted. This solution is suitable for small landing pages as well as for larger web projects and is already in use at VIN Art, Cyklaer and Sounce. The focus of the open-source offensive is on in-house developments and new initiatives as well as participation or “contribution” to existing third-party projects. Every employee is invited to contribute to existing projects on GitHub and to advance the worldwide Open Source community as a “contributor”.

But the matter is not entirely trivial: unlike commercial, conventionally licensed software, the source code of Open Source software is publicly accessible and can be used and edited by anyone to develop their own software solutions. The use of Open Source also entails considerable risks, for example regarding unintentional licence violations.

Porsche has implemented extensive measures to avoid these risks. From the developer to the person responsible for the component to the team leader, everyone involved must observe certain rules and principles regarding FOSS. The Open Source Office around the team of Nik Peters not only checks compliance with the new rule process, but also sets a good example: In cooperation with the Open Source Offices of the Porsche partners Bosch and Here, the Porsche Open Source Office acts as a contributor on GitHub. Together, the teams are developing the OSS Review Toolkit (ORT) with the aim of ensuring compliance. As a member of the ToDo Group, which also includes Adobe, SAP and Netflix, the Porsche Open Source Office also works with other technology leaders.


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