News

2014: The Open Source Tipping Point

Jim Zemlin's final blog post of the year, kindly contributed by The Linux Foundation

Jim Zemlin

For the last ten years open source has expanded into more and more segments of the computing industry. But as we review 2014, a new story emerges: software development has fundamentally shifted toward an open source model. Especially for the infrastructure software used for scale-out computing, open source is the de facto choice; in fact it’s virtually impossible to find examples of scale-out infrastructure that are not open source.

As Stephen O’Grady says in his excellent post on the Scale imperative: “Virtually any category of infrastructure software today – from the virtualization layer to the OS to the runtime to the database to the cloud middleware equivalents – has high quality, open source options available.”

The economics of creating a new suite of infrastructure to power distributed computing required shared development and shared investment. While one company could certainly create a new database or operating system or PaaS, why would they? Instead they build atop the shared R&D investment of an entire industry. 2014 saw us reach a tipping point where open source development is now the de facto choice, instead of just a choice.

Here are the facts:

  1. On every layer of the stack a major open source project is defining the segment: Big Data (Hadoop), OS (Linux), IoT (Allseen), SDN (OpenDaylight), IaaS (OpenStack), PaaS (CloudFoundry), database (Mongo, MySQL, etc.), containers (Docker), etc.
  2. In the past year several multi-million dollar foundations were formed: Cloud Foundry, OpenPlatform for NFV, Dronecode and more were founded to neutrally house and maintain these key projects. The days of throwing it over the wall are over for the major open source projects. People understand that the neutral governance, marketing and ecosystem development that Foundations provide matter.
  3. Heartbleed was a wake up call for the entire tech industry as it demonstrated the interconnectedness of modern software and the reliance on open source. The industry responded with 20 companies raising millions to form the Core Infrastructure Initiative to help open source projects in need. Just as companies have adopted the shared development model for software development, they have now also adopted the shared funding model to secure and improve critical infrastructure projects.
  4. Social coding has exploded: Github reached 7.9M people collaborating across 17.9M software repositories.
  5. Hortonworks just had a billion dollar IPO; their business is built on the open source Hadoop project.
  6. Earlier this year Hadoop’s rival Cloudera raised $900M at a $4.1 billion valuation
  7. In news that rocked the open source world, Microsoft open sourced .NET. Great news for the legions of developers who use .NET technology.
  8. Microsoft’s new CEO said he “loves Linux” which is somewhat different from the old CEO’s view.
  9. Open source Docker is redefining how apps are deployed (Containers vs. VMs)
  10. Many of the defining products of 2014 (and the defining products of the Zemlin Christmas wish list) run on open source: Tesla Automobiles, GoPro Cameras, Drones, 4K Televisions, etc.

2014 was a tipping point where companies decided there was too much software to write for any one company to do it by themselves. They are shedding commodity software R&D by investing in “external R&D” with open source. Those who master the game have a compelling advantage. Those who don’t are getting left behind. We are experiencing an innovation renaissance that is largely driven by open source software that powers distributed, scale out systems. It’s been a pleasure to see this trend develop this year and I’m looking forward to 2015 with anticipation.

×