Managing open source software integration in software development

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Open source software (OSS) serves as the foundation for an overwhelming majority of applications and companies. Organisations that integrate open source software components into their systems are better positioned to foster innovation, reduce development costs, and increase flexibility. That’s why it is not surprise that a staggering 97% of applications leverage open-source code, with 90% of companies applying or using it in some way.¹ However, managing the integration of these components requires strategic planning and expert guidance. In this article, we'll delve into the best practices for managing the use of open source software integration in your software development projects.

Managing open source software integration in software development
Managing open source software integration in software development
Table of contents

Why Choose Open Source in Software Development?

Open source software grants users access to its source code, encouraging collaboration and transparency. This model of software development has revolutionised the technology industry, introducing a plethora of options for developers to utilise, modify, and distribute code freely.

Using open source software in software development projects can result in significant cost savings. The free availability of open source code eliminates licensing fees, while the global community of contributors ensures constant updates and improvements. Additionally, open source software tends to be highly customisable, enabling developers to tailor the software to meet their unique project requirements.

However, integrating open source software into your systems is not without its challenges. It can pose potential security risks, complicate code maintenance, and cause legal issues due to various licensing agreements. To manage these challenges effectively, a comprehensive strategy is vital.

Best Practices for Managing Open Source Software Integration

1. Establish an Open Source Policy

Before you begin incorporating open source software into your development process, it is important to establish an open source policy. This policy should clearly outline the types of open source licenses your organisation will accept and detail the process for approving the use of new open source projects. Furthermore, the policy should specify the procedure for tracking and documenting the use of open source components within your organisation.

A clear and concise open source policy ensures consistent practices across your development team. It also helps mitigate potential legal and security risks associated with the use of open source components. Your policy should be revisited and updated regularly to reflect the evolving landscape of open source software and its associated legalities.

2. Conduct Regular Audits, with source code scan

Due to the dynamic nature of open source projects, conducting regular audits of the open source components in your software is essential. These audits, that should include an open source vulnerability scanner​, can help identify outdated or insecure components, keep track of licensing requirements, and ensure compliance with your organisation's open source policy.

Using software composition analysis tools can greatly simplify this task. These tools can automatically detect open source components in your software, provide detailed reports on their usage, highlight any known security vulnerabilities, and even alert you when newer versions of the components are available. Regular audits, coupled with the use of these tools, form a crucial part of effective open source management.

3. Involve Security from the Start

Integrating open source software can expose your projects to potential security vulnerabilities. To safeguard against these risks, it's recommended to involve your security team from the initial stages of your project. They can conduct regular security risk assessments and use specialised tools to scan open source components for known vulnerabilities.

In addition to identifying potential risks, your security team can also implement appropriate mitigation strategies. These might include updating or replacing vulnerable components and establishing stringent security standards and practices. Taking a proactive approach to security can significantly reduce the risk associated with using open source components in your software development projects.

4. Contribute to the Open Source Community

Being an active participant in the open source community can yield significant benefits. By contributing to the projects you use, you're not just enhancing the reputation of your organisation but also directly influencing the direction of the software's development. This active involvement ensures that the software continues to evolve in a manner that suits your needs.

Contribution to the open source community isn't limited to code, either. Providing documentation, reporting bugs, and even assisting with translations are all valuable ways to contribute. By giving back to the community, you can foster a reciprocal relationship that benefits everyone involved.


In conclusion, the surge in OSS adoption has revolutionised the software development landscape, making it critical for organisations to manage open source integration effectively. Martin Woodward, VP of developer relations at GitHub, summarises this phenomenon best by saying, "open-source software is the foundation of 99% of the world’s software... No single person or team can make the progress that we can all make together”.¹ 

However, the integration of open source software (OSS) into software development projects requires careful planning and ongoing management to avoid the security and legal pitfalls inherent in OSS use. By following the best practices outlined above, you can leverage the benefits of open source software while mitigating potential risks. 

¹ T. Plumb, "GitHub’s Octoverse report finds 97% of apps use open source software",, 10 nov 2022. 



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Marine Yborra CMO Vaultinum
Marine YborraMarine is our Marketing Director. She is a branding and brand activation specialist with international experience in BtoB and BtoC.

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