Split is excited to announce participation in OpenFeature, an initiative led by Dynatrace and recently submitted to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) for consideration as a sandbox program.

As part of an effort to define a new open standard for feature flag management, this project brings together an industry consortium of top leaders. Together, we aim to provide a vendor-neutral approach to integrating with feature flagging and management solutions. By defining a standard API and SDK for feature flagging, OpenFeature is meant to reduce issues or friction commonly experienced today with the end goal of helping all development teams ramp reliable release cycles at scale and, ultimately, move towards a progressive delivery model. 

At Split, we believe this effort is a strong signal that feature flagging is truly going “mainstream” and will be the standard best practice across all industries in the near future. 

What Is Feature Flagging?

Feature flagging is a simple, yet powerful technique that can be used for a range of purposes to improve the entire software development lifecycle. Other common terms include things like “feature toggle” or “feature gate.” Despite sometimes going by different names, the basic concept underlying feature flags is the same:

A feature flag is a mechanism that allows you to decouple a feature release from a deployment and choose between different code paths in your system at runtime.

Because feature flags enable software development and delivery teams to turn functionality on and off at runtime without deploying new code, feature management has become a mission-critical component for delivering cloud-native applications. In fact, feature management supports a range of practices rooted in achieving continuous delivery, and it is especially key for progressive delivery’s goal of limiting blast radius by learning early. 

Think about all the use cases. Feature flags allow you to run controlled rollouts, automate kill switches, a/b test in production, implement entitlements, manage large-scale architectural migrations, and more. More fundamentally, feature flags enable trunk-based development, which eliminates the need to maintain multiple long-lived feature branches within your source code, simplifying and accelerating release cycles.

Where Does Split Come in?

While feature flags alone are very powerful, organizations that use flagging at scale quickly learn that additional functionality is needed for a proper, long-term feature management approach. This requires functionality like a management interface, the ability to perform controlled rollouts, automated scheduling, permissions and audit trails, integration into analytics systems, and more. For companies who want to start feature flagging at scale, and eventually move towards a true progressive delivery model, this is where companies like Split come into the mix.

Split offers full support for progressive delivery. We provide sophisticated targeting for controlled rollouts but also flag-aware monitoring to protect your KPIs for every release, as well as feature-level experimentation to optimize for impact. Additionally, we invite you to learn more about our enterprise-readiness, API-first approach, and leading integration ecosystem.  

So, Why Is OpenFeature Needed?

Feature flag tools, like Split, all use their proprietary SDKs with frameworks, definitions, and data/event types unique to their platform. There are differences across the feature management landscape in how we define, document, and integrate feature flags with 3rd party solutions, and with this, issues can arise.

For one, we all end up maintaining a library of feature flagging SDKs in various tech stacks. This can be quite a lot of effort, and that all is duplicated by each feature management solution. Additionally, while it is commonly accepted that feature management solutions are essential in modern software delivery, for some, these differences also make the barrier to entry seem too high. Rather, standardizing feature management will allow organizations to worry less about easy integration across their tech stack, so they can just get started using feature flags!

Ultimately, we see OpenFeature as an important opportunity to promote good software practices through developing a vendor-neutral approach and building greater feature flag awareness.

Introducing OpenFeature 

Created to support a robust feature flag ecosystem using cloud-native technologies, OpenFeature is a collective effort across multiple vendors and verticals. The mission of OpenFeature is to improve the software development lifecycle, no matter the size of the project, by standardizing feature flagging for developers.

By defining a standard API and providing a common SDK, OpenFeature will provide a language-agnostic, vendor-neutral standard for feature flagging. This provides flexibility for organizations, and their application integrators, to choose the solutions that best fit their current requirements while avoiding code-level lock-in. 

Feature management solutions, like Split, will implement “providers” which integrate into the OpenFeature SDK, allowing users to rely on a single, standard API for flag evaluation across every tech stack. Ultimately, the hope is that this standardization will provide the confidence for more development teams to get started with feature flagging.

Final Thoughts

“OpenFeature is a timely initiative to promote a standardized implementation of feature flags. Time and again we’ve seen companies reinventing the wheel and hand-rolling their feature flags. At Split, we believe that every feature should be behind a feature flag, and that feature flags are best when paired with data. OpenFeature support for Open Telemetry is a great step in the right direction,” Pato Echagüe, Split CTO and sitting member of the OpenFeature consortium. 

We are confident in the power of feature flagging and know that the future of software delivery will be done progressively using feature management solutions, like Split. Our hope is that OpenFeature provides a win for both development teams as well as vendors, including feature management tools and 3rd party solutions across the tech stack. Most importantly, this initiative will continue to push forward the concept of feature flagging the standard best practice for all modern software delivery.

To learn more about OpenFeature, we invite you to visit: https://openfeature.dev.