Our Open Source Mission continues
Our latest open source contribution trials were the first in the history of Lloyds Banking Group.
Last year, a group of dedicated colleagues at Lloyds Banking Group were tasked with implementing and scaling our process for using open source software. This was the beginning of our Open Source Mission.
As the UK’s largest digital bank, we believe that a strong open source strategy can help support our goal of helping Britain prosper. And our latest contribution trials were the first in our history.
What is open source software?
Open source software is software that’s been made public by its creator. It can be used, controlled, modified, and shared by developers across the world and, in most cases, for free. Collaborating and using open source software, then, allows our engineers to see what specific software does, and how it can be used to make our own products and services better.
It follows that as the UK’s biggest digital bank, we want our millions of customers to have access to the best digital tools, platforms, and products. Open source allows us to do this.
“Collaborating and using open source allows our engineers to see what specific software does, and how it can be used to make our own products and services better.”
What is an open source code contribution?
An open source code contribution involves making a change to the source code of an open source software package. There are two types of open source contribution: code contribution and non-code contribution.
Typically, a code contribution can add a new feature, fix a security issue, or address an existing bug. A non-code contribution, on the other hand, simply refers to any contribution which does not change the source code. For example, bug reporting, feature requests, or more general discussions about the design or functionality of open source.
Open source contribution is important because it allows bugs to be detected and fixed quickly, without the need for third parties to identify the problems, which takes time. The more contributions we make, the more we will be able to establish ourselves as leaders in the field and further our investment in the wider open source community.
Our open source contribution trials
We have completed two open source contribution trials to date. During our first trial, we chose to contribute a bug fix to an open source project called Unleash, which had already been used and customised by a team at Lloyds Banking Group.
A change was subsequently made to add a new database option to populate a name field within Unleash’s internal database. This marked the first open source contribution trial in the history of Lloyds Banking Group.
Our second contribution trial concerned Confluent Kafka – our centralised message streaming platform, which helps ensure our applications, processes, and servers have access to the same data as it changes.
There are many integrations between Kafka enabled through Kafka Connectors across the bank. One of the most common is into Google Bigquery – a data warehouse that can help with data management and analytics. The change that was made removed a redundant feature that might have impacted the stability of the connectors and required manual intervention from engineers to handle.
Removal of the feature gives us greater confidence that the connectors will be stable, and release engineer time for other activities. Moreover, it also means we can scale up the usage of this tool with a level of confidence.
Other benefits include building our experience contributing to open source projects, leading the way for others to make changes that benefit us in other open source areas, and boosting the external reputation of the Group. And the long term benefit of this trial lets us build on our internal relationships with Confluent and Google, so our team can contribute to further products in the future.