Two developers at their PCs collaborating on an open source development project
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The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is celebrating its 20th birthday in 2018. The actual 20th anniversary is Feb.3rd, but there will be a number of notable events over the year to mark the occasion, including the launch of Opensource.net, a global network of open source peers to enable users to exchange ideas and create solutions. It is hoped that the network will contribute to the next 20 years of open source development.

The open source label was created at a strategy session held on Feb. 3rd, 1998 in Palo Alto, Calif. That same month, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) was founded as a general educational and advocacy organization to raise awareness and adoption for the open development process.

Open source projects of the first decade were predominantly replacements for off-the-shelf products, while in the second decade they were increasingly components of larger solutions. So what is going to happen in the third decade of open source? To find out we contacted many open source developers and companies that describe themselves as open source and asked them what they think will happen in the next 20 years.

1. Blockchain

Dirk Hohndel is Palo Alto, California based VMware’s chief open source officer. VMWare, which was bought by Dell, actively engages with the open source community through contributions to existing projects as well as developing, and releasing new open source projects and initiatives. He offered several predictions about the future.

Blockchain technologies, he said, are presently infiltrating financial markets, but hold the potential to disrupt a host of business processes across industries. Blockchain is unique because it uses untrustworthy communication channels to create trust between parties that otherwise wouldn’t necessarily cooperate with each other. Specifically, expect the Hyperledger Project, driven by The Linux Foundation, to make an impact in 2018.

Related Article: How Hyperledger is Accelerating Blockchain for the Enterprise

2. Internet of Things (IoT)

The two major challenges with IoT are security and management for a massive amount of endpoints. Hohndel shared that in order to manage an IoT environment, it is necessary to have a de facto standard to communicate between local gateways, edge devices, and sensors.  Expect open source development to be a key part of any software stack that enables IT to manage and secure an IoT environment regardless of who the vendor is.

3. The C-Suite Joins the Open Source Movement

As the C-suite better understands how open source plays a significant role in the management, compliance, and security in the enterprise, more and more companies will proactively participate in the open source community to help drive strategies and priorities.

4. Boring But Unpredictable

Hohndel points out that Linux is now 26 years old and, to quote its inventor Linus Torvalds, it is “incredibly boring.” Linux updates are released every two months and are entirely predictable, reliable, and deeply rooted in the idea of incremental progress. Although there is no controlling entity, roadmap, or rollout plan, all the major open source projects like Linux, Kubernetes, and OpenStack are well run, and progress is consistent and predictable. On the flipside, the fascinating part about open source is that there are more than 63 million projects, and the depth and breadth of that work is significant.

5. Technology Collaboration

Abby Kearns is executive director at the San Francisco based Cloud Foundry Foundation. She believes that Kubernetes has made it possible to use and deploy containers at scale enabling enterprises to become cloud native. Open source offers companies an unprecedented opportunity to collaborate in new and innovative technologies - putting them in the driver’s seat.

6. Technology Innovation

Red Hat a Raleigh, North Carolina based multinational providing open-source software products to the enterprise community. Nick Hopman is its senior director for emerging technology practices. He said that he sees open source as much more than just a process to develop and expose technology, 

“I see it as a catalyst to drive change in every facet of society, including government, policy, medical diagnostics, process re-engineering. All these things and more can use open principles that have been perfected through the experiences of open source software development to create communities that drive change and innovation.”

7. Easy Open Source

Johm Zannos is GM and CRO at Montréal, Canada based Inocybe, which provides open networking solutions. He said that telecom and cable companies are adopting open source in networking to help tackle the challenge of increasing revenue, pace of innovation and reducing the cost of deploying new revenue generating services. Over the next three years, the challenge will be making open source easier to consume and available to an even broader universe of users.

8. Open Source CMS

Olivier Deneef is Client Service Director at The Reference, a Belgian Web Agency founded in 1993 that works at the intersection of cutting edge tech and marketing. He said that Open Source CMS systems have taken a very important step forward in their evolution by supporting PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) solutions. This is what Acquia is doing on Drupal and Umbraco is offering by itself, he said.

“This seems to combine the best of both worlds: enjoying the benefits of an open community, but eliminating the risks related to it as much as possible. Additionally, there is a strong evolution towards headless CMS systems and API driven ecosystems (best of breed).  Whereas in the past, large enterprises typically preferred a closed environment [best-of-breed] is replacing that]”.

Related Article: 13 Headless CMSs to Put on Your Radar

9. Open Source Standard?

Darryl Levesque, Director of Technology Solutions at Ontario, Canada based Kanatek, thinks that the open source market is maturing and as it gains mainstream attention and implementation (small to medium businesses) the user community will strengthen it, making it a more robust solution. As open source code becomes more robust, there will also be increased adoption among enterprise businesses. The increase in popularity will eventually lead to open source becoming a de facto standard.

10. Security

Jeff Luszcz, Vice President of Product Management at Schaumburg, Illinois based Flexera, a developer of software security products, says that there will be more massive hacks due to vulnerable open source and third-party components. “Once an open source component is selected, it’s often ignored and forgotten as development moves on to new features, meaning these components often contain known security vulnerabilities or conflicts with a company’s open source license policy. These forgotten components age out, and become attack vectors as vulnerabilities are discovered in them."

11. Communities of Communities

Mountain View, California based Dremio is an open source, self-service data analytics company and Jacques Nadeau is its founder and CTO. According to him, as open source projects have matured, a newer generation of projects have emerged that bridge multiple projects to serve a common interest. The benefit to projects are a more efficient way to manage data analytics in memory, and to more easily exchange data between processes.

 12. Diversity In Project Committees

He points out that there are two prevailing models for open source software development — a benevolent and a consensus driven committee. While each approach has its pros and cons, the philosophy of the consensus model has always been that a diverse collection of interest’s can produce a common set of goals through dialog and established process. Some projects are not as diverse as they could be, and there is an opportunity for us to do better in terms of ensuring a wide range of points of view. He said that he believes some of these groups such as the Apache Foundation will revisit the structure of their projects to ensure greater diversity.

 13. Project Sponsorship

Developing software is a complex and expensive process that requires significant funding and commitment by participants, more than some organizations are able undertake on their own. He said he expects to see more companies from common industries or use cases come together to devote financial and staffing resources to support open source projects that are mutually beneficial to all parties.

14. Open Source-as-a-Service

Rackspace is a Windcrest, Texas based cloud management company. Its senior director and general manager for OpenStack Private Cloud Bryan Thompson.  He said they will be focusing their efforts outside of disparate open source technologies and honing in on operationalizing and standardizing those technologies to work better together, giving customers a more seamless experience when consuming open source technologies. We will also see customers begin to consume open source as-a-service rather than go it alone or deploy individual solutions. 

15. Business Models

Karthik Ramasamy is co-founder at San Francisco based Streamlio. He sees the third deacde of open source being dominated by the search for viable business models. The first two decades of open source saw an extended search for viable business models, without a clear answer emerging. 2017 showed signs of potential alternatives showing repeatable success, but there is still more iteration ahead. The next few years will see experimentation and refinement of business models, including both evolutionary hybrids and new models that more directly reward open source contributors and not only commercial entities.

16. Modular development

Jonathan Cowperthwait is the VP of marketing at npm, which was founded in Oakland, California. It maintains the npm package manager for JavaScript and hosts the world’s largest software registry. He said that Modular development is and will be the wave of the future. “Looking at just the last three or four years, every major front-end web framework is now distributed through an open source package registry,” he said. As a result, it is going to be impossible to prevent writing code with no open source dependencies, but enterprises won’t really unleash their developers until they can ensure its safe.