“Open source is a lot of people working hard to build the best software they can to give it to you for free,” said Fabian Reinartz, engineer at CoreOS and core Prometheus developer.
We asked the Prometheus developers why they work so hard to give software away. Their responses showed a sense of community, sharing, thirst for knowledge, desire to be challenged, and deep love of open source.
Open source democratizes knowledge
“I have always felt strongly about the importance of open source software, open culture, and democratization of knowledge and power in our society in general. Contributing to open source is one way to further that goal”, said Julius Volz, infrastructure engineer and co-creator of Prometheus. “The particular reason why we initially started Prometheus was because no other open-source monitoring systems met our needs at SoundCloud. We created it as an open-source project from the onset so that everyone else in the world would be able to benefit from it and contribute back as well. This motivation remains until today, where countless organizations around the globe are now using Prometheus and helping us to improve it. I believe that this is the model that works best in the long term, especially for infrastructure software of this kind.”
Open source challenges a person
“Writing software in the open source world adds a lot of challenging dimensions to a project. One does not solve problems against a single organisation’s requirements, but against hundreds. This forces you to think about which features you actually want to build and how to solve them to fit as many use cases as possible, said Reinartz. “Ultimately it enables you to write better, more flexible software and gives you the opportunity to discuss your ideas with a wide range of people.”
Open source is give as much as take
“I hope companies consider that open source is not a free lunch,” said Brian Brazil, founder of Robust Perception and core developer of Prometheus. “As part of using OSS they should at least contribute back bug reports with fixes to the projects they use, and preferably new features too. Without people and companies collaborating there is no open source.”
Open source as a recruitment tool
“Open source is a great way for companies to attract developers. On one hand, developers will find working at your company more attractive and purposeful if they can work on open-source software and thus benefit the entire world instead of just one company. On the other hand, managing an open-source project is also a great way for discovering possible people to hire among the contributors to your project,” said Volz.
Open source advances careers
A study by the Linux Foundation found that 86% of open source professionals said that knowing open source has advanced their careers.
“Co-founding Prometheus has helped my career tremendously – although I didn’t have a reason to complain before – however, now I am now one of the top experts on a piece of software which is used worldwide by companies large and small. This is already opening up many new doors and I’m sure it will continue to do so in the future,” said Volz.
“In many ways open source has been defining my career. Contributing to Prometheus got me my first real job at SoundCloud and subsequently my new role at CoreOS, where I keep working on the project. Open source is hands down the fastest way to gain visibility as an aspiring programmer. More importantly, it exposes me to an incredible amount of collective knowledge and ideas. I doubt I would have learned at the pace I did in a more closed down environment,” said Reinartz.
Open source drives cutting technologies
“Open source is a great way to gain access to the best software, and to collaborate with others to improve it, in order to solve real world problems,” said Brazil. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without open source, as it was instrumental to my growth as a developer. Today supporting open source, in particular the Prometheus project, is the basis of my business.”