Linux and Open Source Lead New Era of Software Development


With the rapid growth of virtualized infrastructure and containerization, open source software and especially Linux are leading the way into a new era of software development. That was the message Al Gillen, vice president of the software and open source group at IDC, told the crowd at the Open Source Leadership Summit in Lake Tahoe in February. In his talk, Gillen charted the growth of Linux and other open source initiatives from 2001 to the present. The picture his data painted was a positive one for the open source community.

“The future is all about open source, and we see very much open source becoming the standardization layer that enables everything else we do in the industry,” Gillen said.

Linux has seen rapid grown in recent years because the majority of cloud servers being spun up in places like Amazon S3 and Google Cloud are based on Linux, Gillen said. That standardization of infrastructure has led to the environment we’re currently in, where containerization and reusable code are coming into their own.

“The notion of having reusable code segments that are actually truly portable, that’s really great stuff,” Gillen said. “We’re moving to this model where we’ve got more and more platform independence, and that’s wonderful.”

Cloud Native at the Forefront

Gillen said when he and his team speak to IDC’s customers about their future plans, containerization and cloud native applications are at the forefront of their strategy.

“Cloud native apps, they really become the entry point for this new battleground, and we see pretty much every vendor in the industry, if they’re going to be relevant for the next 10 years, they need to have a cloud native strategy,” Gillen said.  “They have to have a way of building the lifecycle for these applications, and they have to make sure they’re able to present opportunities for these applications to be successful.

“When we talk to customers, they very much see this as being their future, they want to be doing cloud native applications,” he said. Gillen said the skills gap is inside those major corporations is the major barrier to adoption right now.

“I think that continues to be the number one problem that many organizations have for adopting whatever the most exciting and current open source initiatives might be,” Gillen said.

As a result, commercially supported implementations of open source software are as popular as ever. A few enterprise companies are willing to take on community-supported open source projects, but most are looking for the certainty that commercial support brings.

“That commercial ecosystem I think, is as essential to the long-term viability of open source software as the community that does the development is,” Gillen said. “It’s a two-sided thing, and there is really value associated from having commercializers — vendors who commercialize open source products and make them consumable for the masses.”

Gillen said that installed or legacy software is not becoming extinct, but it also is not going to be rewritten for the cloud. Instead, new software that sits along side or on top of those applications will lift that data into cloud native applications so it becomes usable for the new business climate.

“It’s going to consume the business value, the intelligence, the data, that sits inside those [legacy] applications and make that usable for the modern cloud native application products that are being built,” Gillen said.  

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