Contribution Equals Impact: A Spotlight on Goldman Sachs - A Leader in Open Source Contributions

Wednesday 23 August 2023

Johanna Reichen (Scala Center)

Contribution Equals Impact: A Spotlight on Goldman Sachs - A Leader in Open Source Contributions

The Scala Center supports a responsible and sustainable open source ecosystem. We believe that every meaningful contribution, no matter how small, can have an impact and foster positive relationships within the Scala community, benefiting the ecosystem’s longevity. As part of this mission, the Scala Center is excited to share success stories of organizations that have successfully implemented open source contribution processes. We do this through the interview series “Impact of Contribution in the Scala Ecosystem”. The series aims to create a set of best practice guidelines to facilitate more organizations to engage and contribute, streamlining the process for the whole community and positioning Scala as a standard-bearer for sustainability and responsibility.

In the inaugural piece of this series, we spotlight Goldman Sachs, a leading global financial institution. Founded in 1869 and headquartered in New York City with offices in all major financial centers around the world, Goldman Sachs delivers a broad range of financial services to a large and diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, governments, and individuals.

Between 2016 and 2022, Goldman Sachs played an important role as an advisory board member of the Scala Center, significantly contributing to the Scala community’s evolution. We had the privilege of engaging with Kay XiongPachay, the Program Manager of Goldman Sachs’ Open Source Program Office (OSPO), in a comprehensive interview.

Kay shares valuable insights on how to effectively establish a successful OSPO and define its objectives, highlighting the strategic benefits a well-structured OSPO can bring to an organization’s open-source efforts.

Before joining Goldman Sachs in early 2022, Kay transitioned from retail management to tech. With this unique journey, Kay brings a user-centric perspective to the open source community, emphasizing empowering engineers, integrating fresh initiatives, and fostering an inclusive culture. Kay’s efforts have been pivotal in fostering an open-source culture at Goldman Sachs.

Goldman Sachs, Scala Center and the Open Source Landscape

Goldman Sachs exemplifies a significant aspect of their open-source strategy by actively supporting organizations like the Scala Center. As highlighted earlier, the firm served as a member of the Scala Center advisory board from 2016 to 2022, providing substantial support to further the Scala language and its ecosystem. However, it is worth noting that Goldman Sachs embarked on its open-source journey well before this partnership, establishing a strong foundation of engagement and contributions in the open-source community.

Goldman Sachs has been contributing to open source for more than 10 years and their Open Source Program Office (OSPO) was launched in 2021, with a vision to consolidate open source, cloud, and software into a unified offering, and formalize its engagement and support for open-source projects.

Prior to this, Goldman Sachs had been an active participant in the open-source community by contributing to and using open-source projects. They made contributions to projects such as Apache Cassandra, an open-source distributed database management system, and the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric, a blockchain framework, with a focus on helping to improve the functionality, security, and scalability of these projects.

Goldman Sachs has also utilized open-source software across its technology infrastructure. Open-source technologies provide cost-effective and innovative solutions while enabling collaboration and knowledge sharing. Recognizing the importance of open source and its impact on the financial industry, Goldman Sachs decided to establish the OSPO to enhance its involvement in open-source initiatives.

The OSPO’s primary focus is to facilitate the company’s open-source engagements, including contributing to projects, collaborating with external developers, and promoting open-source best practices within Goldman Sachs. The office also works to ensure compliance with open-source licenses and provides guidance to developers within the company on utilizing open-source software securely and effectively. The ambitions of the OSPO can be summarized as follows:

  • Amplifying the Goldman Sachs open source code contributions by enhancing internal policies, processes, and tools.
  • Advocating for the usage of and contribution to projects open-sourced by Goldman Sachs.
  • Augmenting Goldman Sachs’ role in open source, including active participation in external communities, to support broader objectives in attracting and retaining developers.
  • Constantly reviewing and refining Goldman Sachs open source license policies related to code and package consumption.

Open Source Ecosystem Contributions: Success Stories from Goldman Sachs

Within its inaugural year, the OSPO at Goldman Sachs established an exemplary track record, earning the esteemed title of “OSPO of the Year” at the Linux Foundation’s Open Source Summit in June 2022. They have highlighted their open source projects and contributions on their developer website, with notable open-sourced projects such as Legend and GS Quant.

Highlighting one of their contributions, Goldman Sachs originally developed GS Collections, a Java collections framework. This project later evolved into Eclipse Collections under the aegis of the Eclipse Foundation, with the existing feature set of GS Collections 7.0 remaining intact. Although primarily Java-based, Eclipse Collections integrates smoothly with Scala, also demonstrating the effective interoperability between Java and Scala.

Goldman Sachs has also defined a broad set of initiatives focused on developers, both internal and external, supporting the continued focus on developing scalable, innovative, and impactful solutions for the firm and its clients.

Moving forward, Goldman Sachs is determined to maintain this momentum.

It is important to acknowledge that Goldman Sachs, being a global organization with offices worldwide, extends its open source contributions beyond Scala to a diverse array of projects across multiple languages and frameworks.

Weighing the Impact: Benefits, Barriers, and Measurements at Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs considers various factors and employs clear, effective communication with stakeholders as it relates to open source contributions. For example, when assessing the investment required for contributing to open source, the team considers factors such as impact and time commitment. This information helps effectively communicate with stakeholders about the resources required for a particular contribution.

Goldman Sachs also recognizes the greater gain in participating in working groups associated with open source projects. These groups provide valuable guidelines and guidance on contributing, including details about the approval process, submission requirements, and other relevant information, which helps facilitate contributions to open source projects. Contributors also collaborate with teams across the firm to create a holistic and comprehensive approach to open source within the organization.

The establishment of the OSPO at Goldman Sachs provides a centralized place where individuals can work together to streamline the contribution process, which helps in coordinating efforts, sharing best practices, and ensuring consistency across open source activities.

Establishing a Blueprint: Standardizing Open Source Processes at Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs has established standard open source guidelines and processes into its operations, offering employees open source training and a wealth of information. The firm embraces industry-standard best practices for open sourcing and emphasizes the importance of developing a profound understanding of open source communities among its contributors. This approach ensures that the firm minimizes inefficiencies and maximizes the effectiveness of its open-source contributions.

In addition, Goldman Sachs maintains an active engagement with the open source community through working groups, conferences, publications, and collaborations. This interaction helps promote knowledge sharing and awareness of the latest open source developments.

Finally, Goldman Sachs also has a rigorous review process for open sourcing projects. This process involves selecting the appropriate license and ensuring each project meets specific release criteria such as community engagement and overall sustainability.

Goldman Sachs’s Vision: Shaping the Future of Open Source

In a future where open source is increasingly playing a role in the landscape, Goldman Sachs is well-prepared for this future with the establishment of its OSPO. Goldman Sachs places a high value on external contributions and active participation in the open source community. Its emphasis on encouraging individual contributions and the engineering organization’s focused attention on open source signals a deep-seated commitment to promoting collaboration and enriching community engagement.

Goldman Sachs’ approach to open source is comprehensive, acknowledging the multifaceted nature of this landscape, which spans commercial, technical, and legal dimensions. By recognizing the importance of taking a holistic view, the firm demonstrates its readiness to address the varied opportunities that open source presents, considering multiple perspectives in the process.

The firm’s strategy for resource allocation suggests prudence and balance. Goldman Sachs underscores its commitment to fostering an efficient team that can fully support its open source endeavors without incurring unnecessary inefficiencies.

The establishment of the OSPO is a significant milestone in Goldman Sachs’ open source journey. The firm understands the importance of having dedicated leadership to provide support, visibility, and coordination for its open source initiatives, ultimately driving their success.

Goldman Sachs acknowledges the importance of diverse perspectives within the open source ecosystem, valuing the insights of both users and developers. Recognizing that these two groups may have differing needs and expectations, the firm seeks to understand and incorporate these distinct viewpoints into its decision-making process. This strategy ensures that Goldman Sachs’ contributions to the open source world are as valuable and impactful as possible.

Follow the Goldman Sachs Path

As we conclude this exploration of Goldman Sachs’ open source journey and their partnership with the Scala Center, we invite you, fellow organizations and individuals, to embrace the open-source mindset and actively contribute to the sustainable growth of the Scala ecosystem. By following these best practice guidelines and fostering a responsible, inclusive, and resilient open-source culture, we can collectively position Scala as a leader in sustainability and responsibility within its domain.

Consider establishing an OSPO or a dedicated team within your organization to consolidate and support your open-source efforts. Provide resources, training, and documentation to empower your employees to contribute effectively to open-source projects. Engage with the open-source community through working groups, conferences, and collaborations to foster knowledge sharing and stay up-to-date with the latest developments.

Recognize the value of diverse perspectives and engage with stakeholders, including legal teams, to ensure compliance and address legal considerations. Establish clear communication channels within your organization to facilitate collaboration and coordination among team members. Regularly review and refine your open source license policies to align with industry standards and promote sustainability.

Finally, share your success stories and experiences, just like Goldman Sachs, to inspire and guide others in their open-source journey. By contributing to the Scala ecosystem and the wider open-source community, we can collectively drive innovation, resilience, and longevity. Together, let us shape the future of open source and build a sustainable and thriving ecosystem.

Join us in this exciting endeavor and let your contributions make a meaningful impact. Together, we can forge a stronger, more vibrant Scala community and contribute to the greater open-source movement.

If you would like to share your contribution story, apply here!