IMPORTANT - OpenChain 2021 - Overview and Execution


OpenChain ISO 5230 has been in market for around two months. In this time we have seen significant conformance announcements from companies like Hitachi, LG Electronics and Microsoft. We have also see a lot of activity in commercial service channels supporting adoption.

With the Western New Year and the Lunar New Year behind us, we now have a clear path ahead for 2021. I want to discuss the big picture here and explain how it will give context to all our individual actions.

First, OpenChain ISO 5230 is gaining speed in the supply chain. It is being used in negotiation and contract discussions. It is assisting in Merger and Acquisitions. It is being explored by Venture Capital. All of this activity underlines one fact: OpenChain ISO 5230 is the appropriate solution for managing open source license compliance.

Second, the adoption of OpenChain ISO 5230 is being well-supported by the project. Our global teams, our local teams, and our extensive reference materials, including webinars, make us a single destination for getting up-to-speed on effective, efficient open source license compliance.

Third, there is more we can do. OpenChain ISO 5230 is rapidly passing the layers of the supply chain intimately familiar with the open source community or even the Linux Foundation. New companies are hearing of the standard and entering our orbit, and this will accelerate in the coming months. Our existing material provides great support, but our key skill has always been to listen, and then to refine everything we do in response. This practice remains unchanged.

So let’s talk about what’s coming next.

We have the International Standard for open source license compliance.

We have the world’s largest support community for open source license compliance, peers assisting peers, and commercial providers standing at the ready.

We have the world’s largest reference library for open source license compliance matters.

Now we realize the potential. This is phase three of the OpenChain Project.

Phase one, make the standard.

Phase two, bring it to market and formalize it.

Phase three, make OpenChain ISO 5230 part of every transaction in the supply chain.

Phase three has three key parts:

1 - Provide the material that allows every supplier in the world to adopt OpenChain ISO 5230.

2 - Provide the community of peers (user company to user company) that supports this adoption.

3 - Engage with national and international organizations to embed OpenChain ISO 5230 in global policy.

All of these parts are already underway. Let’s talk about what’s happening and how you can be part of this.

First of all, you are already part of this. Your engagement with OpenChain laid the foundation to build what we have today, and our current execution regarding adoption materials, support and long-term policy flow from this. Thank you for taking us to this stage.

But we are looking forward. Let’s look at each point in turn.

= 1 =
Provide the material that allows every supplier in the world to adopt OpenChain ISO 5230.

Today we have self-certification, a massive reference library, and a regular pipeline of new contributions and translations. However, feedback indicates there are three next steps that will be super useful. All three are underway but all three will benefit greatly from your further engagement.

(1) A supplier education pack. This will be a selection of some of our core documents designed to allow any customer company to simply email it to any supplier company, and for that supplier to easily understand OpenChain and adoption options. This is nearly ready. We expect the final edit to be during the OpenChain Mini-Summit on March 10th and the pack to be released March 12th. It will contain:
(A) Our supplier education leaflet, explaining the basics of open source;
(B) A slide deck explaining OpenChain ISO 5230 and how to self-certify or seek outside help;
(C) Our reference training deck, the most frequently requested document once people begin their journey to conformance.
I will be emailing the list separately with a reminder regarding how to assist with editing this pack. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

(2) The release of a free online reference training course has been requested. We are executing to meet this request and are nearly ready for final collaboration with LF Training to launch on the edX online platform. The training course is based on the reference training slides we have previously used, and also contains new suggestions and ideas. This is nearly ready. We expect the final edit to be during the OpenChain Mini-Summit on March 10th. The final release date will be determined by LF Training but we expect it to be shortly afterwards. I will be emailing the list separately with a reminder regarding how to assist with editing this course. Your help with final review will be deeply appreciated.

(3) Finally, translation, translation, translation. We know that each time a translated reference document is released, it makes a huge difference not only to OpenChain ISO 5230, but to global open source license compliance education as a whole. We just had our latest reference training slides released in Italian. I would like to call on all our country teams and fantastic contributors to consider helping to translate these core documents as one of their community activities in the coming months:
(1) Our supplier education leaflet;
(2) Our reference training slides;
(3) Our project overview slides.
If we can have the latest version of each of these documents translated, it will make the majority of early supplier education a single email event for most customer companies. It has immense potential for impact. Let’s make it happen.

= 2 =
Provide the community of peers (user company to user company) that supports this adoption.

We have built the world’s largest community to support peers around open source license compliance. The key thing for 2021 is continue our regular meetings with three areas of focus:

(1) Share case studies among ourselves. Time and again, this has proven to be the most effective way to bring companies together around the best solutions. We all learn, we all improve. I have a suggestion for all of our many, many local work groups: let’s try to have two or more user company case studies each meeting. Let’s make it a habit for user companies to express their experience to user companies. If this becomes our regular fabric, it will always benefit us.

(2) Make sure there is space for new companies to come to the table. With social distancing it is challenging to make sure people feel confident to try something new, and by creating explicit space we can help a lot. After all, many companies are just learning about OpenChain ISO 5230, and this is the perfect time welcome them to the table. The Japan Work Group is leading the way with something that I think may benefit us all: a newbie session of 30 minutes to one hour at each meeting where the experienced companies focus on greeting and encouraging new companies. The precise format depends on culture, naturally, but creating this space across all our work teams sounds very useful.

(3) Make questions part of our everyday life. Many companies are quite experienced, and outside of a specific case study, people from this company might not usually have questions to ask. However, I would like to ask and encourage everyone involved in OpenChain to consider purposefully asking extra questions on our mailing lists, calls and at work groups. We have discovered that if we ask the questions that less experienced companies are shy to ask, we can help provide the answer they need, and build an atmosphere where they are confident to ask directly next time. This step, as simple as a single sentence, can make a world of difference.

= 3 =
Engage with national and international organizations to embed OpenChain ISO 5230 in global policy.

We are talking with standardization bodies like ISO, BSI (UK), DIN (Germany) and standards focused organizations like NTIA (USA) and CESI (China). However, we can and should do more in this space. I would love for your help to open discussions with policy makers and policy influencers in France, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. 

Policy discussions will be the slowest moving but one of the most impactful aspects of our work throughout 2021. The discussions we start today will assist in regulation both tomorrow and in 2025. I request that our country work groups, and every individual with contacts in the relevant spaces, please consider if they can contribute some time resources to helping make this happen.


And there you have it! This was a long email because there has been a lot of discussion and feedback across our community during the December to February period. With all the breaks done, it’s time to come together and make our usual magic happen.

The next three weeks will be a great time to discuss this further. Alongside our usual global team calls on Second Monday and Fourth Monday, we have:

An OpenChain Mini-Summit on the 10th of March

The Automotive Q1 meeting on the 18th of March

And local work group meetings announced in Korea (11th), Japan (17th), Taiwan (19th) and the UK (25th).

All of these meetings are open to everyone and can be tracked and joined without cost or registration:
(This is where you can also add our global calendar so that all current and future meetings are easily visible to you).

Everyone, please accept my sincere thanks for how far you have taken us. I am looking forward to the next steps in our journey together.



Shane Coughlan
OpenChain General Manager
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