Developers are no stranger to open source technology. Whether taking advantage of Linux-based servers or leveraging tools such as Chef and Puppet, enterprise IT is slowly becoming more accustomed to license-free software.
As an example of open source’s resurgence in the business community, Forbes reported that the open-source version of Docker has been download over 300 million times, signifying a growth of more than 1,000 percent in two short years. Now, despite never publicly disclosing its valuation, Docker is worth around $1 billion, according to the source.
Everyone’s on the bandwagon
Of course, it wouldn’t be a revolution with just one activist. Last week, Jean Paoli, president of Microsoft Open Technologies, explained in a blog post that open source technology and engineering practices are “rapidly becoming mainstream across Microsoft.” After acting as a subsidiary for three years, the MS Open Tech team rejoined Microsoft Corp in order to take further steps in the direction of open source and open standards.
The tech giant is no stranger to open source communities, as it recently released .NET as an open sourced venture, with “dozens” of .NET project. This approach to software development for Windows machines is billed as the easiest way to build apps, but it might now face some competition.
This week, VMware announced two open source projects built to enable the adoption of cloud-native applications, First Post reported. One tool, Project Lightwave, will be dedicated to identity and access management in cloud environments, while the second, Project Photon, is essentially a lightweight version of Linux, simply optimized for the cloud.
“In many ways, the demand for open source technology is driven by the cloud.”
Thanks to the cloud
In many ways, the relatively recent explosion in demand for open source technology is driven by the cloud. Due to its lightweight, highly scalable nature, license-free, open-sourced software is perfect for virtualized environments. In fact, at the All Things Open conference, Jeffrey Hammond, a Forrester Research VP and principal analyst, revealed that 73 percent of cloud-based systems rely on open source technology, ZDNet reported.
As Wired explained, open source software generally lives among other open source platforms, and without the biggest tech leaders enabling their cloud services to support open source technology, the market may have never expanded. For example, Microsoft allows Linux on its Azure cloud computing service, and Linux is running on around 20 percent of those virtual computers, according to Wired. This opened the door for technologies such as Docker, Chef and Puppet.
More than just one benefit
However, the cloud isn’t the sole reason for the increased demand for open source solutions. Hammond noted that a Forrester survey indicated 84 percent of programmers use open source technology, and he went on to explain that open source software is paving the road to big data and NoSQL since proprietary programs don’t “stand a chance in these new fields,” ZDNet reported.
The source also pointed out that many programmers perceive open source development platforms to deliver better performance and be more reliable, which Hammon suggested is a major change in regard to the stereotypical opinion of open source technology in the past. Open source solutions used to be an alternative to dealing with the hurdles of proprietary software procurement and licensing fees.
“Open source used to be popular because of the lower cost,” Hammond explained, according to the source. “Now, the cost of tools is the least important element for developers.”
In an era when every organization has access to cutting-edge hardware and software with Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service solutions, IT departments have turned their attention to optimization and customization. It’s simply not enough to run the proprietary software that competitors leverage, and instead many businesses are developing applications and cloud management tools with their exact wants and demands in mind. This is allowing them to truly use IT to improve companies as a whole.
The result of high open source technology demand has affected the whole IT industry. According to ZDNet, Hammond posited that “open source is taking over,” and the enterprise IT phase is now “a golden age for developers.” This revolution means that proprietary software might not even be an option in a few years time.
“We are now seeing open source tech compete with open source tech; it’s no longer open-source software vs proprietary,” Hammond said, as quoted by the source.
Companies such as Microsoft have realized this. Wired reported that Mark Russinovich, one of the Microsoft’s top engineers, sees the necessary shift to open source on the horizon. Russinovich told the source that Microsoft starts a conversation about all of its software, debating whether new and old solutions should be open source or not.
In an article on PCWorld, Al Gillen, vice president at IDC, was quoted as saying that an open source version of Windows is a possibility in 10 years. Whether that day ever comes is really up to enterprise IT leaders. Will they embrace open source technology or not? As of right now, it looks like they already have and will continue to do so as the reliance on the cloud grows and other innovations come to fruition.