The Future of Open Source and Steps for Evolution

By Nirmalya Dastidar, Practice Head, Open Source
Wipro

Wipro has been in the open source arena since 2002, and is really excited to be a part of OpenStack Silicon Valley and show our continued journey in the open source space. We were one of the early adopters of OpenStack in 2012, because we believe open source cloud is the way forward to meet overall business practice. That’s led us to focus on our open source cloud practice since 2013. We are also currently the only ‘Indian Heritage System Integrator’ for Mirantis OpenStack.

Open source has solidified its position as the default base for software development, infiltrating almost every facet of the enterprise and outperforming proprietary packages on quality, cost, customization, and security. Today, 78% of companies run on open source, and since 2010 the use of open source to run business IT environments has doubled, showing that open source is fast becoming the driving force for the world’s most successful companies.

Over the next two to three years, open source will significantly impact applications, cloud computing, big data, operating systems and the Internet of Things (IoT), because in such complex environments, it’s getting more and more difficult to integrate, develop, and extend proprietary software—and extremely costly compared to open source alternatives. Companies have come to understand the importance of open source and the key role it plays in developing innovative software today, providing not only a smaller (or even non-existent) capital expenditure, but also an extraordinary degree of flexibility.

What’s more, as public cloud computing gains greater adoption across enterprises, there’s an increased level of spending occurring on infrastructure-related services, including Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

Between now and 2017, the use of OpenStack, Cloud Foundry, and Docker to standardize critical elements of IaaS and PaaS is expected, making it simpler for CIOs to undertake their open source cloud projects. Driving this standardization will be a mix of ecosystem of technology vendors, system integrators and marquee adopters. The impact of this standardization implies:

  • increased availability of cloud offerings that work in similar ways at their core, enabling developers to focus on their specific applications
  • improved availability of skills, and
  • reduced overall risks.

In the coming years, more and more companies will opt for open source over proprietary software as open source provides better competitive features, greater ease of deployment and the greatest ability to scale. The advantages over proprietary options are expected to widen, but for that to happen, the quality of open source solutions needs to improve; they should be easier to use, security should increase, and deployment should be made even simpler. Also, because open source involves multiple contributors, open source indemnification is also key for companies and their customers.

Key Impacts of Open Source Adoption for Cloud on IT

Open source cloud adoption will have significant effects on IT in the enterprise, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. As we see it, the industry will experience the following changes:

  1. IT will continue, and even increase, existing relationships with their cloud vendors while the market matures. As a result, over the next three years, IT will spend time separating hype from reality as far as cloud vendor claims and counter-claims on the adoption of open source.
  2. Large enterprises looking at cloud architecture as a strategic move will begin evaluating and piloting CloudFoundry and OpenStack to test what it takes to build their own clouds using these standards. As part of this process, many CIOs are expected to work with their existing cloud vendor and their preferred system integration partners as their de facto cloud standard and evolve with them, instead of using pure community-based standards.
  3. New projects coming on the anvil will have PoCs on hybrid deployment models for open source cloud. These projects will be funded under current IT budgets, but at a lower dollar value, and will most likely be deployed on third party cloud environments.
  4. Successful applications will migrate from third party cloud to a varying mix of hybrid cloud deployment, with applications hardened on pre-configured stacks from large technology vendors such as IBM, HP, Cisco, and Hitachi.
  5. Application development and deployment projects will witness increased adoption of containers (specifically Docker), which will coexist with the existing deployment of data data center virtualization.
  6. DevOps will become a core part of the IT department, and many businesses will go through major transformations in their application landscape. Emphasis will move from a tools-based approach to more process-centric changes across the SDLC value chain.
  7. New service management and orchestration skills will be sought from external third parties for infrastructure and application operations/management. These tools will have a significant level of customization for individual companies.
  8. IT service management (ITSM) will gain increased importance as deficiencies in internal capabilities are exposed, and cost, as well as complexity of standard tools—coupled with an inability to scale across multi-vendor hybrid cloud environments–gets overwhelming.
  9. Desires to achieve web-scale deployment will be met with reality and CIOs will take a much more pragmatic approach to application lifecycle management and look to move be-spoke/non-standardized internal applications to open source with increased emphasis on DevOps.
  10. Real time cost analysis tools will gain importance for monitoring and predicting the cost of cloud operations and extension.

As Clayton Christiansen has articulated well in his book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, market disruption is always driven by the low-cost technology that becomes “good enough.” Eventually, what was the low-cost technology becomes the market leader. All the buzz and excitement surrounding OpenStack always boils down to one answer: Cost and freedom of choice!

Image by O Palsson.

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