Common Services for Industrial Software Development

Author photo: Harry Forbes
By Harry Forbes

(First in a Series on Industrial Software)


Industrial Software Development This Insight is derived from introductory remarks given by ARC Analyst Harry Forbes at a 2023 ARC Forum session entitled “Industrial Open Source Software.” Industrial software suppliers and applications generally have not embraced any of the multiple open source business models, though it is almost impossible not to use some open source software in development today. ARC will discuss these software business models in a future report. The focus of this report is on three aspects of software development and commercialization that are characteristic of all software projects and products.

All Software Projects Need Certain Services

Software developers and analysts are both fond of modeling things in layers, so the figure (below) consists of layers. The proposition here is that there are three layers (or more accurately, clusters) of services that all kinds of software projects and products need, regardless of where the software fits in the spectrum between open source and proprietary. Though the figure presents them as layers, it’s more accurate to think of them as clusters or sets of services that software development requires. Then I’ll show an example case from the world of open source. I’ve grouped these services into three clusters: governance, collaborative, and competitive.

Governance covers the general rules by which the software is developed, maintained, and supported. In the open source world these services are delivered primarily through non-profit foundations, although in the open source world this can also be done by corporations or even individuals. The second cluster is the collaborative cluster. That's the area where people work together in areas such as developing the code itself, building and testing the applications, and maintaining a roadmap for the future of the work. The third cluster is the competitive area, and in this cluster, one finds commercial software products, and this is the area where proprietary IP, various integrations, and further services are delivered.

Types of Services

There is no hard and fast rule about which services are delivered in each cluster but let me fill out these three clusters with some examples of the types of services provided, beginning at the governance cluster. Every software development effort has some form of governance, even if it is a project entirely within a single company. In the open-source world typical governance services would include intellectual property (IP) management, software licensing, national and international legal services. It can also include keeping metrics of contributions, development activity, software uses, and software maturity.

Within the collaborative cluster besides development and building of the core software itself there are activities such as maintaining a software roadmap and strategy, testing, versioning and release management, supply chain security, and policy development in areas like coding, builds, security, and documentation.


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Keywords: Collaboration, Competition, Governance, Industrial Software, Open Source, Shared Source, ARC Advisory Group.


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