The Borked Supply Chain. How the Telekom brings FOSS Projects into Stable Production
2021-09-30, 09:30–10:00, Ushuaia

This talk focuses on aspects of transitioning Open Source software projects into productive environments.
The Deutsche Telekom AG has set out to use FOSS software to build a comprehensive geospatial data management and processing environment based on cloud technology. Some components (like PostGIS and QGIS) are used as COTS (commercial off the shelf) products. Others (like GRASS GIS) are used as libraries to implement intricate parts of an incredibly specific process to dig optimized trenches for fiber optics cables throughout Germany.
The project uses agile methods to implement this architecture with FOSS products and projects and hand crafted implementations to achieve it's objectives.
If we use the analogy of a bridge across a deep valley to achieve the objectives, then it feels like going full speed on a downhill bike, jumping into thin air and reaching the other side of the valley in a truck carrying internet access for millions landing on a concrete bridge that has manifested halfway through. A bit frightening, but so cool! That's FOSS!

Before going into implementation details we have to clarify some terminology: In the physical world, a project is planned for a specified time with a specified budget and clearly defined objectives. Think: building a bridge. It will be unique because it spans across a specific valley and has to account for a specific geology and specific use (people, donkeys, cars, trucks, trains or electrons). Building the bridge will require a plan, excavators, trucks, steel, concrete, asphalt, cables and so on. When the project is "done" people, goods and electrons can cross the bridge: Even donkeys can use it.
Another example for the same terminology in a different context is the process of making a new car. This will start with a project focused on achieving the objective of making a new car. Once the car has become a reality, the project ends. The product itself gets reproduced (and sold) as often as possible to allow people to drive across the bridge which was the end product of another project.

In the FOSS realm things are a Megabit different. A FOSS software project is an ongoing effort to create software, typically by a diverse and sustainable developer community. Some projects have been around for decades (think GRASS GIS). They are never "done". Others stick around for a few years while they are needed and then either get outdated or replaced by a contender (see Community MapBuilder a good decade ago). In general, when it gets started, there is no predefined end to a software project. Sometimes the founder of a software don't even know that they are founding a software (think Gary Sherman writing the first lines of what today is better known as QGIS).
Sometimes Open Source software projects become part of a product. This typically happens in a downstream effort by a completely different set of actors (think Google's Kubernetes turning into the core of RedHat's Openshift).

When it comes to combining all of these realms within a project aiming at achieving an objective by using FOSS software projects – things can really become a bit confusing. Hopefully we are going to be able to clarify a few things as we go through our presentation(s).

Authors and Affiliations

Arnulf Christl, Metaspatial
Senior Consultant, terrestris GmbH & Co. Kg., Germany


Use cases & applications


Business powered by FOSS4G


2 - Basic. General basic knowledge is required.

Language of the Presentation


Open Source advocate and co-founder of OSGeo. Working at terrestris as senior consultant for Deutsche Telekom AG fibre optics. As Metaspatial operating the development platform and coordinating the SmartMapping work group of the Surveying Authorities of Germany. Scrum Master at The Federal Agency for Cartography and Geodesy Germany.

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