Zalando Strengthens its InnerSource Strategy

Learn how teams at Zalando leverages InnerSource for cross-team collaboration

photo of Hong Phuc Dang
Hong Phuc Dang

Product Manager

Posted on Sep 05, 2018

Zalando is known for its commitment to the open source world. Many of our engineers are active contributors of open source projects like PostgreSQL or Kubernetes. The Zalando tech department currently consists of more than 2,000 employees that manage over 200 delivery teams and virtual teams. Zalando engineers are from 77 nations and based out of various locations across Europe which makes us super international but also quite distributed. Collaboration and alignment across delivery teams is challenging as the company continues to grow at an incredible speed. Enhancing InnerSource is an approach that could help Zalando to tackle those internal challenges.

What is InnerSource

InnerSource is an adaptation of open source software development practices within organizations. This means to apply the collaborative culture and open source methodologies to internal projects even if the projects are proprietary. At its essence, InnerSource does not only apply software development but also spread out to other business sectors such as Finance, Marketing, HR etc.

The Benefits of InnerSource are:

  • To improve developer productivity by increasing cross-team alignment and collaboration.
  • To improve developer mobility by enabling our software engineers to contribute to the efforts of other teams and to get familiar with software projects and tools used by other teams.
  • To increase development speed by removing team blockers and pushing discoverability of existing software products and components.
  • To decrease onboarding time and improve knowledge handover by providing well documented and discoverable internal projects

InnerSource at Zalando focuses on:

  • Fostering the ‘open source’’ culture from within, encourage individual teams to open up their work and accept feedback and contributions from developers outside of their team.
  • Promoting pull request as an initial tool for cross-team collaboration.
  • Creating a platform where teams have a chance talk about their work and learn from each other.
  • Introducing InnerSource pilot projects around Machine Learning starting at Digital Foundation.
  • Developing collaborative documentations of team best practices and examples.

More about Inner source at Zalando

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