Sonatype Nexus Lifecycle Review

Helps our developers be aware of duplicate components in their code, but .NET open-source licensing recognition needs work

What is our primary use case?

We have two use cases. We're predominantly a products company and we scan our products, in a controlled way, to make sure they're not using open-source software. We want to make sure that we're licensed correctly for our products and the way they are deployed. There are also security reasons for making sure that our products aren't introducing vulnerabilities and, if they are, that we can address them. 

And part of our business is that we build bespoke software. Some of our customers want to make sure that the open-source software is being used correctly in the software we build for them. And, again, we want to protect that software against security vulnerabilities that might be introduced by open-source software.

We also use the solution to help with open-source governance and minimize risk. When we are acquiring a new company, for example, we will automatically, as part of the due diligence on that purchase, scan their products to make sure they don't have vulnerabilities that we are not prepared to accept. So it helps us to make sure, before we make any purchase, that the target acquisition is of suitable quality, in terms of its open-source use.

How has it helped my organization?

The solution has improved the way our company functions in terms of the way that developers think about the components that are being built into their products, making sure they're not being duplicated, for example. The developers now understand that there's a cost associated with including open-source. It may not have a licensing fee, but there is a cost associated with it. That sort of education piece has had a big influence.

It has also brought open-source intelligence and policy enforcement across our SDLC. As the teams are setting up their development environments, we have now gotten them to build Sonatype into their development pipeline. They scan their codebase so they actually catch things at the point that they introduce new, open-source software into the products, to make sure they're not actually introducing vulnerabilities or licensing-policy breaches.

Sonatype has also reduced our risk in releasing secure apps to market. Previously, teams would just release without knowing what risks it was exposed to. Now, we can actually do a better risk assessment.

What is most valuable?

For us, it's seeing not only the licensing and security vulnerabilities but also seeing the age of the open-sources included within our software. That allows us to take proactive steps to make sure we're updating the software to versions that are regularly maintained and that don't have any vulnerabilities.

In addition, the default policies, in general, are quite good. We have adjusted slightly but we're fairly happy with the way that's set up. They provide us with the flexibility we're looking for.

The data quality is pretty good. We don't have masses of false positives. There have been some areas around .NET which haven't been quite as good as some of the other areas, but we know work is being done on that. Overall, the data quality does help us solve problems faster.

What needs improvement?

We use Azure DevOps as our application lifecycle management tool. It doesn't integrate with that as well as it does with other tools at the moment, but I think there's work being done to address that. In terms of IDEs, it integrates well. We would like to integrate it into our Azure cloud deployment but the integration with Azure Active Directory isn't quite as slick as we would like it to be. We have to do some workarounds for that at the moment.

Also, the ability of the solution to recognize more of the .NET components would be helpful for us.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using Sonatype for about six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's a stable product, especially compared to some of its competitors.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is generally good. A couple of years ago there were some things that had been logged and that had to be chased a few times. They didn't go as quickly as we'd have liked. But recently, things have been better and they have been more timely in their responses.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Our company tried with Black Duck, but that was it.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. One of my team members was able to execute it quite quickly without too much trouble or additional help.

It's deployed internally at the moment but, moving forward, we want to move it to a cloud-based deployment.

What was our ROI?

We have seen return on our investment, but it's a difficult one to quantify because, unless you have a problem, it's like any sort of security or testing; it's difficult to quantify unless you have an issue. In terms of protecting our IP it certainly has provided ROI and, in security issues as well, it has helped us to identify them, reducing our risk. There has been a big risk reduction for us.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We pay on a yearly basis.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We do a supplier selection every couple of years. One solution that we've evaluated is Black Duck, for example, but it didn't seem to be as stable as the Sonatype solution, when we last tested it.

WhiteSource is another one we tested. It's a cloud-hosted solution so I can't comment on its stability.

Comparing these solutions with Sonatype, the information that comes with Sonatype and its recognition are good. The fact that WhiteSource is cloud-hosted is nice and it's an advantage you don't immediately get with Sonatype. But with WhiteSource we got more false positives than we did with other tools. And Black Duck, when we've last reviewed it, wasn't as comprehensive as what we are looking for.

Sonatype met our needs, what we were looking for, particularly around protection of IP. The knowledge of the Sonatype team, and our good working relationship with them, have helped us to continue to use the product. The fact that they take some of our feedback and incorporate it into the product has also helped.

What other advice do I have?

I would definitely recommend understanding what you're trying to achieve. For us it's quite clear that we want, for the moment, to protect our IP and to identify security vulnerabilities. If the understanding is that you want to protect against open-source from coming into your products in the first place, or you're doing greenfield development, look at the right product stack from Sonatype to make sure that you're choosing the right set of products. We've got a mature product base that we're working with. If you're starting from scratch, you would want to assess what you're trying to get out of your policies and processes around this, and make sure that the products match.

We have about 150 users of Sonatype in our company, and their roles range from managers who review the open-source solutions to make sure they're being licensed properly in the product, to developers who are actually cutting the code. It's also service and project managers looking at their exposure, or maybe the audit team that wants to make sure that there's compliance within the different teams. For deployment of the solution and maintenance we have one person, a junior software engineer.

Sonatype is being used for regular scans on our priority projects, numbering about 20. We plan to eventually get that rolled out much more of our estate, to 50 or 60 business units.

I would rate it at seven out of 10. Some of the scanning around the .NET open-source licensing, the recognition; and the integration with some of our development tools, like Azure DevOps, are where, perhaps, it's lacking.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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