After almost a year of research that involved studying 36,000 open source software projects, 12,000 enterprise development teams and 3.7 million open source releases, we at Sonatype are excited to share the “2019 State of the Software Supply Chain” report.
This year, we worked with research partners Gene Kim, founder of IT Revolution, and Dr. Stephen Magill, principal scientist at Galois and CEO of Muse, to examine and empirically document objectively for the first time the attributes of exemplary development practices, especially in relation to secure coding practices. But, as in years past, we’ve also analyzed the rapidly expanding supply and continued exponential growth in demand for open source components.
Not All Open Source Projects Are Created Equal
For the past four years, we’ve studied the ins and outs of the software supply chain—what it’s comprised of; how vulnerabilities are getting in and how often; the growing regulations; and, most recently, a new trend in which adversaries are purposely attacking the supply chain with malicious components.
For our fifth anniversary of the report, we wanted to look deeper. We wanted to understand exactly how enterprise development teams—and potentially even more importantly, how OSS projects—were thinking about and addressing the software supply chain security issues. We wanted to understand and identify the very best practices so we could share them with others.
As a result of our research, we identified five common behavior patterns across 36,000 open source development teams. This includes identifying attributes of Large Exemplars and Small Exemplars who rest within the top 3%, or 1,229, OSS project development behaviors.
To arrive at this list, we examined a large number of variables, including:
- Do differences exist in how effectively OSS projects update their dependencies and fix vulnerabilities?
- Are there exemplary teams that do this better than others?
- Are components from exemplary teams more widely used than “non-exemplary” components?
- What factors correlate with exemplary components?
- What advice can be offered to producers of OSS components and the developers that consume them?
The answers were quite striking—and the resulting data even more illuminating. While the report identifies Small Exemplars and Large Exemplars, we’ve also identified three additional groups of OSS projects: Laggards, Features First and Cautious.
Exemplary Commercial DevSecOps Practices Create Superior Software
There are clear, competitive advantages for teams with exemplary DevSecOps practices.
We’ve known for years that innovation is critical, speed is king and open source is at center stage. This research further underscores these accelerating trends throughout the software supply chain. It also shows that taming the supply chain is possible. By making better supplier choices, component selection and using automation, dev teams are seeing impressive rewards. In fact, for those development teams actively managing their software supply chains, the use of known vulnerable component releases was reduced by 55%.
The report details 11 other behaviors and attributes of leading enterprise development teams, including their frequency of software releases, their use of repository managers and their reliance on a software bill of materials.
Gene and Stephen helped shed new light on exemplary development and DevOps practices that I believe will help developers around the world better understand what secure coding means and how to start addressing it.