5 Open-Source Trends to Watch

Open source

By Todd R. Weiss

Open-source software use in business has come a long way since the first LinuxWorld Conference & Expo was held in San Jose, California, in March 1999. Linux had been around as an operating system since its invention in 1991 by Finnish-American developer Linus Torvalds, but its use in business computing was just beginning to germinate by the early 2000s.

Fast-forward to 2018. Open-source software powers the internet, much of the world’s cloud computing infrastructure, thousands of companies around the globe and a wide range of technologies, including software used in motor vehicles, consumer devices, in-home systems and more. Channel partners are increasingly involved in open source today, selling services, offering advice and helping clients use open source effectively.

And despite that phenomenal growth, millions of developers continue to devote countless hours to projects. By the end of 2017, more than 24 million developers in more than 200 countries had contributed to some 67 million GitHub project repositories. Many more projects are also used by more developers on code repositories offered by GitLab, Bitbucket, SourceForge and others.

For almost every customer software need, there is likely an open-source project working on the problem.

With all of this activity around the world, some open-source trends could become even more important to partners in the future.

Blockchain Is Emerging

Linux Foundation's Heather Kirksey

Linux Foundation’s Heather Kirksey

Heather Kirksey, vice president of community and ecosystem development at The Linux Foundation, says that today’s open-source trends vary by industry but include projects such as blockchain, which companies in finance and banking are eyeing, as well as containers and Kubernetes, which are continuing to evolve and grow in use by enterprise IT.

The Hyperledger blockchain project, which The Linux Foundation sponsors, is taking off, said Kirksey, as a way to help solve such challenging problems as security and authentication for a wide range of industries.

Blockchains, which are distributed databases with no central authority or points of trust, can streamline business processes to save time and money while reducing risk, making the tech attractive to a variety of customers. Emerging trends that employ blockchain and Hyperledger include enabling transactions, supply chain verifications and identity validations, as well as for improving security and privacy, said Kirksey. All of these are opportunities for channel partners to grow their services and sales.

“People across industries are being more aware of technologies that might be repurposed for new use cases,” Kirksey said. “These things are around as open-source projects rather than having to build them from scratch.”

Networking and Cloud

In other industries, open-source projects such as OpenStack and Kubernetes are advancing network transformations.

“They are really looking to rearchitect their networks to be more software-based,” said Kirksey. “We’re seeing a lot more …

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