Q and A: Making Open Source More Accessible to Enterprises

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Q and A: Making Open Source More Accessible to Enterprises

In this interview, see what one company's philosophy about open source products and development for enterprise apps holds.

· Open Source Zone ·
Free Resource

ActiveState has been working in open source for over 20 years. They are passionate about making open source language development easier by building software that developers love to use; and making open source more accessible to enterprises.

To find out more about the company, I recently had a Q&A session with ActiveState CEO and President, Bart Copeland (@Bart_Copeland).

Here’s what we discussed:

Who is ActiveState? Who are you?

ActiveState helps enterprises accelerate development and gain code oversight by redefining the way open source language code is built, certified, and resolved. The company is firmly rooted in open source languages. Its mantra is to create technology thats works and make open source easy for the enterprise.

I’m Bart Copeland, CEO and President of ActiveState, which I’ve led since 2006. I have more than 32 years of experience in technology, spanning roles from Vice President of Corporate Strategy, to General Manager and CEO.

At ActiveState, I drive our strategic direction with three tenets: happy activators, solutions “geeks” love to use, and making open source languages easy for the enterprise.

We helped define and lead the private PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) space with our ActiveState product, Stackato, and led that product’s successful sale to Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) in 2015.

What is the history of the company and why was it founded?

ActiveState is a leader in open source languages. The company was founded in 1997 with a singular focus since its inception: to make open source languages enterprise grade. Its early support for Perl language distribution grew to Tcl, Ruby, Go and, Python. It was a founding member of the Python Software Foundation and has been building Python since 1999.

From 2006 onwards, it expanded its solutions for open source languages. Its Stackato product — an enterprise-grade private platform as a service (PaaS) - sold to HPE in 2015. And in 2018 it launched the ActiveState Platform for Open Source Language Automation.

The platform constantly updates, remediates, and creates new language builds based on updates, threats, and patches. It boosts efficiency and ensures security, all while saving time and money.

Why should someone use your language packages over the default open source options? What do yours typically add?

ActiveState’s open source language distributions are renowned for quality for two key reasons.

One is our rigorous build engineering and quality/assurance practices. Customers can obtain or select vetted open source packages checked for threats and license compliance to the operating systems they desire.

The second is continuous oversight. We release timely security patches and updates so that our customers can ‘fix fast,’ complete with package dependency resolutions - no more “dependency hell”. Furthermore, the ActiveState Platform can alert customers of updates so that they can update their language code with the fixes required

What does the ActiveState Platform automate?

Although languages are the foundational piece of building software, they’re often forgotten when it comes to addressing any of the related challenges. It’s no wonder that adopting a language is considered to be one of the biggest challenges for developers.

Furthermore, security, legal reviews, and approvals related to language code cause bottlenecks for enterprises and their developers. Consequently, by automating the process to build and fix languages, or implementing a continuous build-certify-resolve process that conforms to existing workflows, coders and teams can be more productive. They can leverage ready-to-use open source language distributions; build in minutes, made-to-order, and complying with security and license protocols.

How do you compare to other providers who offer open source compliance and security offerings?

The main differentiator is that we enable our customers to take action, and fix fast. The ActiveState Platform enables self-serve and instant configuration of language builds from a vetted list of packages. However, the ‘freshness’ of a package has a shelf-life.

Knowing when new threats, patches, and updates are available for your code provides enterprises with oversight. But companies need to be able to apply the code intelligence to take required actions. And we provide that for them.

They can not only be alerted of threats and patches, but immediately take action by updating affected language code, with dependencies managed and licenses handled. In other words, resolve, build, and certify.

Can developers move away from your platform to the standard open source configurations?

Most definitely! Our goal is to provide oversight to companies while also giving developers more freedom and flexibility. Developers can choose to use our certified ActiveState builds, e.g. ActivePython (Python), ActivePerl (Perl); or build a language distribution to spec based on personal preference or third-party suggestions. What’s key is the ability to select the vetted packages of choice, with dependencies pulled in and conflicts flagged.

Furthermore, by building a ‘made-to-order’ language distribution on the ActiveState Platform, non-required packages can be eliminated. There’s no language bloat, performance is improved, and attack surface reduced.

You recently ran a "Top Open Source Language Trends for 2019” webinar, what were your highlights, surprises, trends etc?

One of the biggest trends we see continuing to grow in 2019 is the rise of polyglot to become the enterprise norm and we predict polyglot practices will drive enterprise IT. Security also continues to be a huge concern and shows no sign of slowing down – it’s top of mind for developers, especially when it comes to open source packages. We predict shift-left security will start with languages.

Another significant trend for 2019 is that the open source language ecosystem is growing more complex, and we predict DevOps will merge with the build engineering of open source languages.

Many may know you, or remember you for Komodo IDE, how does Komodo compare to other IDEs and (increasingly powerful) text editors?

Komodo IDE is part of our suite of offerings. Although Komodo is not a core function of the Platform, it is included with all accounts, from Community (free) to Enterprise (custom pricing). Providing an IDE aligns with our aim to give developers everything they need to start coding.

You can find out more about ActiveState:

compliance, dependency management, enterprise, open source, security

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