UPDATED 09:00 EST / MARCH 03 2021


Scarf Systems aims to give developers more control of their open-source software

Exiting stealth mode today, Scarf Systems Inc. says it’s on a mission to help open-source software developers make better, data-informed decisions and ensure they receive more compensation for their efforts too.

The company says it’s backed by a seed funding round of an undisclosed amount led by Wave Capital, 468 Capital, Scott Belsky and Kevin Hartz.

The startup has created Scarf Gateway, which it says is a central access point for software packages that’s independent of host registries. It also provides better data analytics on software adoption and use, plus options for developers to monetize their code. Scarf says its aim is to put open-source software distribution back under the control of its creators.

Scarf founders Avi Press and Tim Dysinger said Scarf Gateway enables open-source software developers to learn more about how the products they create are used in the real world.

“We believe that the open-source community as a whole should not only be sharing source code, but also data about that source code and how it is used,” Press said in a statement. “To deliver better software, creators need a solution to distribute their software more effectively and with better observability. Our goal is to empower open-source maintainers to own their package distribution, build better software and be financially supported for the work they create.”

The Scarf Gateway gives developers a single access point through which they can distribute their open-source software packages, no matter what repository they’re hosted in. The benefits, Scarf said, include superior data analytics on how their software is being used.

Whereas most software registries only provide a simple download count, the Scarf Gateway provides a more detailed breakdown on the number of downloads by version, platform, location, company and cloud environment, for example. This data will enable developers to tailor future updates to their open-source software for those who use it most.

Another benefit of Scarf Gateway is it allows open-source developers to host containers and packages on their own domain. Distribution URLs will remain static and under the control of the developer, enabling them to change their software registry provider at any time without impacting end users. This helps developers to avoid being locked-in to a specific provider, Scarf said.

Riley Newman, general partner at Wave Capital, said he believes open-source software developers could potentially also receive more compensation for their efforts by using Scarf. He explained that when he was running Airbnb Inc.’s data science team, he relied heavily on open-source software but was hampered by a lack of interaction with its developers.

“Scarf is a brilliant concept for a marketplace that will open up a new channel for enterprise SaaS, with developers able to get paid for the projects they’re passionate about and companies able to receive custom support and ongoing maintenance for mission-critical software,” Newman said.

In an email to SiliconANGLE, Press elaborated on how his company intends to help developers make money from their work, saying the plan is that the analytics Scarf provides will serve as the foundation of a marketplace that it intends to unfold as part of its long-term strategy. That marketplace won’t be available immediately, though, so developers will need some patience.

“Scarf’s tooling is building up a map of open-source projects and all the companies relying on them, which should make for a highly effective approach to connect open-source maintainers to their commercial users for everything from support agreements, feature development contracting, licensing deals, and more,” Press explained. “It all starts with knowing who the users are, and that’s the foundation that the Gateway product provides.”

More broadly, the Scarf Gateway serves as example of how the open-source software ecosystem continues to mature, said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research Inc.

“Distributing next-generation applications more efficiently doesn’t just help developers, but enterprises as well, because most of them are becoming software companies themselves,” Mueller told SiliconANGLE.  “Scarf looks to have created an important cog in the software release process with its distribution capabilities and its eventual options for monetizing software maintenance.”

Scarf Gateway has initially launched with support for Docker containers, with more package types to come in the near future.

Image: pexels/pixabay

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