DevOps, Open Source

Open Source Seat Belts

Every day when you get in your car to take the kids to school, go to work, or visit the grocery store, what is the first thing that you do when you get in that car? You're hopefully putting on your seatbelt.

Next time you put on that seatbelt, you should thank Volvo.

Safety By Design

We rely on the seatbelt every day to protect us from injury or death in car accidents. When the seatbelt was invented, it went through many iterations. Different manufactures had different ideas of what made for a good seat belt. American cars used a lap belt, which, for those who have classic cars in their garage know, they are not very good in a high speed crash. Volvo of Sweden was a car company that was founded on building rock solid cars. You've probably heard the anecdote that Volvo’s are built like a tank. This reputation was earned by their track record in overall reliability and safety in crashes.

Nile Bohlin, who was an engineer at Volvo in Sweden, invented the three point seatbelt in 1959, the seatbelt that is seen in virtually every vehicle on the road today. This design was as effective and safe as it was simple. The seatbelt somewhat resembled the five point harnesses worn by racing drivers, but buckled in one place, while distributing the negative energy of a crash diagonally across your body.

Valuing life over intellectual property, it was decided by Volvo’s managing director to open up the patent to anyone who wanted to use the design in their vehicles. This was a visionary move at the time, and was key to cementing Volvo’s legacy as a leader in the vehicle safety space.

What do seatbelts have to do with DevOps & Open Source?

The entire internet is built on open source software, the most notable of which is Linux. Linux is adaptable and can run on both embedded systems like switches and routers, as well as large servers humming away in the racks of a server farm. This open source technology, much like Volvo opening up the patent for their seatbelt, has enabled the internet at large to grow with impressive speed and scope, because that license is open and free to use and modify by anyone who wants to use it.

Much of the software that powers DevOps toolchains is open source. Jenkins is a chip from the Hudson project, and maintained by an active community of developers. The Linux Foundation oversees the continued development of the Linux Kernel - the basis upon which all linux distributions are built. Docker is open source, and the base building block of most modern containerized applications. Kubernetes, designed by Google as Project Borg, is also open source. These platforms were all made Open Source for the betterment of the technology community at large. This has allowed application development and growth to advance at break-neck speeds, at a technology velocity never before seen in history.


For all the tools mentioned above, if it were not for communities of visionaries allowing their products to be used in an open and transparent manner - things like Continuous integration would still be very far down the road from where we are today. Additionally, the growth of the technology that we rely on today would be stifled. Open Source is the key bedrock of all CI/CD solutions, much like the three point seat belt to modern day motoring. Remember to thank Volvo after an accident.

Rick Conlee

Rick Conlee

Rick is an entrepreneur and networking expert who has spent the last 2 decades designing, building and maintaining special use case technology implementations for government institutions and private industry.