GitHub VP of worldwide sales, Paul St John, has foreshadowed some major announcements related to open source and GitHub’s acquisition by Microsoft at its upcoming GitHub Universe conference next month.
“We’ll be making some great announcements there that can allow us to have discussions about how developers can play an even more important role in world of coding,” said St John. “The conversation will be able to take a great leap forward, evolution-wise, about the role developers can play.”
While St John was coy about the details, his comments came after a discussion about the role GitHub, having been recently acquired by Microsoft (which also owns business networking and recruitment site LinkedIn), plays in connecting open source developers with prospective employers.
“Businesses use open source libraries, and then they make applications from them, and then they need someone to work on them,” said St John. “They will email people at GitHub, and they will come to GitHub itself and say ‘We need somebody to come and work on this application built off this open source library. Can you find anybody in the community that will come and work on it?’ Happens all the time.”
It comes as open source software, and open development practices, becomes the preferred way to develop software in a swathe of industries. It is difficult to find an area of software development that doesn’t depend on open source in at least some way, and new cloud-native style coding is dominated by open source approaches. Code on GitHub serves as part of many developers’ proof of their abilities.
“We see all kinds of businesses doing this: going more open as opposed to more closed,” said St John. Beyond just software development, it is leading organisations to change the way they structure themselves to embrace open, collaborative efforts rather than the closed silos of decades past.
“The open source approach to coding and development has changed the world,” said Sam Hunt, GiHub’s Sales Director for APAC.
As for why Microsoft would invest $7.5 billion buying GitHub, it’s easy to understand when you see that GitHub is about far more than just the code that is stored there. GitHub provides a lot of context about the code and how it changes over time.
“It’s a tool with all the code, and all the code insights over the past ten years,” says St John, “How the code’s changed, how people have worked with it, what tools they used, what workflows they used. All that is analysis and insight into the code that we can bring to the surface to empower developers.”
With the vast resources that Microsoft can bring to bear on all this metadata, and its long history of building tools for software developers, buying GitHub makes perfect sense. In fact, it’s difficult to think of a better company to acquire it, really, including Google (that was also rumoured to be looking at buying GitHub).
Microsoft’s newfound love for all things open source and its massive investments in cloud (where open source development dominates) suggest that we should play close attention to the announcements to come at GitHub Universe, as they will provide important clues to the future direction of the industry. Open source developers, in particular, should be watching with interest.
“We believe that developers are building the future,” said St John, “Innovation is coming from software, and they’re the architects of software. Anything we can do to empower them to build the future is what we do.”
We shall have to see exactly what sort of empowerment GitHub, and Microsoft, has in mind.
This article first appeared in Forbes.com here.