It's often striking at the end of any given year to reflect upon how much things changed over the preceding 12 months, and 2014 is no exception. After all, open source software reached a "tipping point" this year, as Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin recently noted, achieving new prominence in software development and driving what Zemlin calls an "innovation renaissance."
Within the business world, it would be difficult to find an area that saw more rapid evolution in 2014 than enterprise computing. "The past year has seen some major events in enterprise computing, and Linux and open source have played major roles in many if not most of them," Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, told Linux.com.
A few key shifts stand out as particularly notable in enterprise computing's evolution over the past year. Here are five examples.
1. Docker and Containerization
On any list of significant changes in enterprise computing in this past year, "Linux containers and Docker would have to be the No. 1 item," Al Gillen, IDC's program vice president for servers and system software, told Linux.com.
Indeed, "Docker and containerization were among the most disruptive enterprise IT trends of 2014," agreed Jay Lyman, a senior analyst for enterprise software with 451 Research. There were implications for adjacent trends as well, including cloud computing and DevOps, he noted.
"As evidenced by participation and investment from a variety of vendors including new startups and established megavendors, Docker and containers are something developers and lines of business want to use and something central IT departments must contemplate," Lyman explained. "Docker also has implications for a variety of infrastructures, including PaaS, IaaS, cloud-enabling and automation software and traditional virtual machines and environments."
2. Bigger and Bigger Data
Got data? Enterprises certainly do, and as volumes expanded rapidly this year, so too did expectations for the market. IDC, in fact, expectsthe Big Data technology and services market to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 26.24 percent over the next few years to reach $41.52 billion by 2018. No wonder Hadoop is expected to become a "cornerstone" for enterprises over the coming year. "Hadoop is the rising star of the business technology agenda for a simple reason — it disrupts the economics of data, analytics, and someday soon, all enterprise applications," Forrester analyst Mike Gualtieri recently wrote.
3. Scale-Out Computing
Start talking about Big Data and it's only natural to think next about capacity. But whereas increasing enterprise computing capabilities used to mean making huge investments in large, inflexible units of computing power, the trend toward scale-out computing -- where companies use relatively low-power commodity hardware for the flexibility to add and remove distributed capacity as needed -- has wrought nothing short of a transformation in enterprise IT. This year, that shift became more apparent than ever, and associated trends like software-defined storage, for example, drew increasing attention.
4. Openness Everywhere
At the risk of echoing Zemlin's observations about open source's ascendance in software development this year, it would be remiss not to point out the corresponding rise in enterprise computing.
Open source gained considerable enterprise ground this year, often with the involvement of big-name players. "Of the major vendors involved in open source, IBM has been particularly active in 2014," King noted. The company open-sourced its POWER chip architecture via the OpenPOWER Foundation, for instance, and the group has attracted more than 70 member companies, including Google and Nvidia.
As for Linux, "deployments are up 14 percent over the last three years, while Windows is down 9 percent," King noted, referring to a recent Linux Foundation report. "As a group, Linux solutions have grown 23 percent since 2013. The takeaway is that Linux isn't simply profiting from shifts in behavior related to cloud and other enterprise computing technologies, it's helping to drive them."
5. PaaS Standardization
Last but not least, the establishment earlier this month of the Cloud Foundry Foundation as a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project is not just "another feather in the hat of open source," but also bodes well for Cloud Foundry's growing traction as a framework for Platform-as-a-Service cloud, King suggested. "It doesn't mean that proprietary platforms like those used by Salesforce, Amazon, Microsoft, etc., will go away," he said. "But with a growing number of influential vendors backing Cloud Foundry -- including EMC, HP, IBM, Intel, Pivotal, SAP and VMware at the Platinum level -- the chances are that it will emerge as a leading platform for PaaS development, to the betterment of enterprise and other businesses."
The formalization of Cloud Foundry as an industry standard, in turn, will create a strong ecosystem capable of supporting the 27 percent estimated annual growth rate expected for PaaS over the next few years, and will also help advance the state-of-the-art for open cloud. The result, according to Current Analysis senior analyst Charlotte Dunlap, will be a much-needed “OpenStack equivalent for the unique characteristics of PaaS."