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T-Mobile and Open Source: A Look Back on Year One

By: Nicholas Criss

2018-10-05

It was one year ago today (on my birthday) that T-Mobile publicly embraced the open source community with the release of Jazz — a framework to unlock the full potential of serverless computing. It was both the start of a new journey for T-Mobile and a significant milestone along a path that we have been on for the past two and a half years: from telco to technology company.

So, I think now is a great time to reflect on the progress we made over the last year…

  • T-Mobile’s Jazz development is now done in an “open source first” model, meaning the majority of our work is immediately available in Open Source Software (OSS). Adoption is increasing, and we have multiple internal and external parties both using and contributing to the project. Work is now also under way to support using Jazz with multiple cloud providers and on-prem.
  • We released T-Vault, a simplified secrets management solution as our first project in an “open source only” model. This means there is no internal T-Mobile technology stack. Development only happens in the open and any company-specific integrations are accomplished via configuration.
  • NEXT (formerly Hyper Directory), our blockchain-based identity and access platform, has been donated to the The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project and is under active development by us and others, including Intel and Microsoft. As our second “open source only” project, we are moving towards doing 100% of the planning and design in the open.
  • We’ve also released Casquatch, a Java abstraction layer for Cassandra, and several projects to support chaos engineering.
  • And today, I’m super excited to share that we’ve released PacBot, a system that delivers continuous compliance with a concept called “policy as code”. Internally, PacBot has been a significant security and operational bar-raiser and cost-saver.

To us, being a leading tech company means we must be a world-class software development and product management organization. And in the last year, it has become increasingly clear that open source development is world-class software development. By necessity, the community has figured out how to take a globally dispersed group of people with varying needs and motivations and turn them into an agile team that can deliver quality software and user experiences (traditionally a challenge in the enterprise).

We’re excited to continue pushing ahead on this journey, including leveraging an “internal open source” model to bring teams closer together on projects that we are not able or ready to make public. Looking back, I am filled with a great sense of pride for my colleagues —especially the developers — who contribute to this ground-up effort.

And so this year on my birthday, T-Mobile has given me the same exact gift it did last year, but I wouldn’t want it any other way: a meaningful initiative that is having a real impact in our digital transformation journey, passionate people to work on it with, and a sense of purpose that fills me with excitement when I walk into work every morning.

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