Thursday, September 18, 2014

base checklist: 10 points to decide if chose an OSS for Production or not

One question you get from skeptics (who are actually really important for quality check) while discussion on picking an OpenSource solution instead of a support attached closed source one. Which is how to trust it to be safe for Production release.

The question actually even suits which OSS to pick, when there are several.

Question we are trying to answer here is... How to pick an OpenSource solution that will live long and prosper, not turn into a rot that smells on any change in Production on updates over period of time.

First just to mention again that almost every Technologist already understands. There is no guarantee just "ensured" support over closed source software to guarantee it's safety or supporting future technical growth. I don't wanna dwell into the dangers that it brings in, 'cuz this is not the post for that. That's entirely other exhausted list.

So on what to see in OpenSource software that helps you decide it is trusted to be included for production release...

While weighing in for inclusion of any big or small OpenSource utility into your Production list, following checklist shall help:

1*) OSS have Licenses too
First of all check if their License suits inclusion with licensing of your project. Example, People have been seeking ways (somewhat succeded) to get ZFS on GNU/Linux.

2*) Is project active "enough"
Second quick check is seeing if project has been inactive for a dangerous period. Now for every kind of project, a dangerous period differs widely. Would have to depend on better judgment of self and trusted community you know. Like for a library providing certain algorithm, post stable release changes would be a lot slower. But for a webdev framework, with current tradition... it'll be popping new minor releases now and then.

Now few things for which you'll need to read around a little....
Sources to recon about following attributes: Mailing lists, Issue boards, IRC, Twitter streams, may be others depending on project

3*) How much active and inclusive is its community
How well do they handle PullRequests and Issues raised on their project. This includes the readiness on response and adapting a better direction, both but mainly former.
How well they handle risks and vulnerabilities reported, if any. Quickest patch is not the main measure, most important is accepting it and providing a workaround till main issue gets resolved.

4*) Good core team matters (they need not be very popular)
Check who forms core team maintaining that OSS. Some other projects of their, even if not popular would give you an idea on how much and how well they maintain their projects. 

5*) If Industry already loves it
Not a litmus test though strengthens community support and quality check.
Look for who all in Industry is already using it mainstream, also if you like the softwares they have developed. Just shoot a tweet/mail to them... people are mostly helpful. Don't give up on humanity. ;)

6*) Need to scan it personally anyhow
Try it in a sandbox first, monitor it's not spawning requests to domains it's not supposed to. Not creating any suspicious behavior you don't expect from it.
Also, it survives your production security lockdown, not all projects behave same under restrictions.

7*) Send it on a marathon
Put it under performance test yourselves. There might be preexisting load test results available, and might be accurate as well. But not all implementations suit all projects. Check it under PoC of your implementation behavior with expected concurrency and latency.

8*) Does it tailor fit
If it actually provides what you desire without putting a hack around, give it a chance. If not so, confirm that it suits the design and wouldn't break with project philosophy from maintainers over the coming recent versions at least.

9*) How easy is to resolve an issue
Is project community/developers active enough to help guide around any problems faced.

10*) Do you love supporting FOSS
If yes, welcome to the world of awesomeness. Some mediocrity (not below that, then look something else) at some of points above would only drive you strengthen the project. It's opensource, at least technologists are not supposed to live with the problem if faced.