Open source enterprise software has never been more popular than right now. More and more organizations, recognizing the array of benefits that it has to offer, are bringing open source software into their processes and even building whole businesses around it.
In a 2015 survey of 1,300 executives and IT professionals by Black Duck Software, 78 percent of respondents said that their organization ran at least part of its operations on open-source software projects. Another Black Duck survey, released in 2016, found that, on average, open source code comprises 35 percent of a commercial application.
Open source advocates claim that it gives users a leg up over proprietary software in a variety of ways. For one, the increased transparency of the code base makes it easier for potential users to vet the project before joining in. In addition, open source software tends to attract smart, passionate people who want to contribute to it, some of whom might want to work for your organization. Open source code also encourages proactivity and innovation: developers can fix bugs or create features without having to wait for new versions to be released.
Of course, the story is far from over when it comes to open source. Want to know what’s next for the field? Here’s a look at five trends we’re seeing in open source enterprise software.
1. Security Is Still a Sore Point
A decade ago, many organizations avoided open source out of fear that security holes would be missed, or even maliciously inserted, in the code base. Although open source software has come a long way since then, users still remain split on the question of security. In the 2015 Black Duck survey, 55 percent of respondents said they believed that open source solutions have superior security when compared with proprietary software.
2. The Cloud Is Eating Open Source Apps
Open source apps are often found in conjunction with another IT darling: cloud computing. The three major cloud hosting services–Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform–all compete on the basis of their friendliness to open source technologies.
When it comes to apps running in the cloud, open source again dominates. From DevOps tools like Puppet, Chef and Jenkins to infrastructure platforms like OpenStack and Apache Mesos, there’s no shortage of open source cloud computing technologies for use in your IT environment.
3. Microsoft Is Building Strong Partnerships with Open Source
Fifteen years after Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer called Linux a “cancer,” the company did something shocking: it announced a partnership with Red Hat in 2015 and joined the Linux Foundation in 2016–as a Platinum member, to boot. Once known as the king of closed source proprietary software, Microsoft is healing old wounds under its new CEO Satya Nadella.
If you were paying attention in the last few years, it should hardly be a surprise that Microsoft has become the organization with the most open source contributors on GitHub. Among other achievements, the company has brought the Ubuntu Linux distribution to Windows 10 and open-sourced projects like PowerShell, Visual Studio Code, and the Xamarin SDK.
4. GitHub Is the Center of the Open Source Universe
Speaking of GitHub, it’s now one of the 100 most visited websites in the world, with more than 19 million active repositories and more than 300,000 active organizations. GitHub has become the host of choice for open source projects by overwhelming margins, beating challengers including SourceForce, BitBucket, Google Code and Microsoft’s CodePlex.
The rise of programming languages such as Java, C# and Swift in GitHub repositories is a key indicator of how mainstream open source software has become among developers. According to GitHub’s 2017 Open Source Survey, 72 percent of users said that they always sought out open source options when looking for a new tech solution to fit their needs.
5. Mass Adoption of Containers
You’ve almost certainly heard of containers–and perhaps used them yourself–and the trend is only poised to widen in the near future. Research firm Forrester estimates that a third of enterprises are testing containers for use in production, and 451 Research projects that the application containers market will grow by 40 percent annually to $2.7 billion in 2020.
The most widely used container solution, Docker, is open source, a fact that has undoubtedly contributed to its popularity over its competitors and traditional virtual machine solutions. Docker’s open-source nature means that developers can more easily extend the software with new functionalities and plugins, without having to worry about vendor lock-in.
Enterprise IT changes quickly these days, and these are exciting times for open source enterprise software and the organizations choosing to embrace it. If you’re considering incorporating open source as part of your operations, you’ll be in good company in the years to come.