4 key trend expected to affect open source software in 2018

As is the case with any technology, disruption and continuous innovation are always a hallmark. So when it comes to open source, this holds true. In this post, we look at key trends that will affect open source software in 2018.

XAAS

In the past two decades, we have had Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). The concept of service business model has risen in popularity. Today, industry folks simply call it Anything-as-a-Service (XaaS). Anything can be provided as a service over the internet today, be it storage, security or hardware. And this will have an impact on Open Source.

Cloud integration

Google and Microsoft started it, Amazon brought it to a whole new level. The domain of cloud storage is growing at monstrous rates annually. It is the concept of market widening that we discussed in another post. Everyone is benefitting from this. With this, the PaaS adoption is picking up and open source projects assisting that adoption.

The rise of OpenStack

Essentially, OpenStack is a Cloud Operating System that allows for the processing, storage and computation of huge volumes of data through a dashboard that is designed to be extremely user-friendly. Today’s cloud computing applications are being built on this. While its complexity has hindered a mass adoption, expect that to change in 2018 and further ahead.

Containerization

Containerization is a method wherein you run diverse and multiple applications on a single Operating system (host). With this, the need for launching a Virtual Machine for each application is eliminated. You may have heard of Docker, perhaps the best in this field so far. The trend of containerization is expected to pick up with simplicity and efficiency the mottos of software development today.

With such trends and many more in the air, open source platforms are expected to be even more user-friendly. We haven’t remotely seen the potential of the internet fulfilled, and we are about to witness it through such trend adoption. Indeed, Bell Laboratories and Linux should be proud of their contribution to the internet’s global rise.

The puzzle of open source software explained in economic terms

How do we explain the craze behind open source technology? And why did it gain so much importance? Why do companies spend so much resources developing a platform and then simply license it out for others to modify and distribute? To understand all these, we need to understand the concept of overall market widening.


Economics teaches us that perfect competition is the best scenario for the common market. In a perfect competition, consumers have all the choices they need and they make the final call. If you are a new player in the industry, you can easily enter the market without any barriers to entry. In short, it is win-win.

However, the common perception is that existing players in a market do not desire that someone new comes in. This is because whenever someone new enters a perfectly competitive market, they will end up taking profits from the existing market. Individual profit margins will deteriorate. In the vast majority of cases, this is true.


But what happens when an industry is new or nor fully formed yet? Let us say that a new niche has been identified and there are only three of you serving that niche. It is a great place to be in if you simply look at profit margins, since customers do not have a choice due to a lack of supply. But then, what about demand? How do you really grow your customer base when the vast majority of people don’t even know you exist?

It is here that the concept of welcoming competitors comes into play. When you welcome competitors in by reducing the barriers to entry, you ensure that the overall market grows, and you grow along with it. With this, you manage to increase your revenues despite the fact that your competition just went up. This is why open source developers license their software almost for free.

The history of Open Source and the rise of the Linux kernel

Linux is a household name in the field of open source software platforms today. It is considered one of the most user-friendly platforms and Operating systems, and the free internet advocates love it. It is also considered a key competitor to Microsoft, Apple and other OS giants today.


Linux wasn’t the creator of the Open source concept, contrary to popular belief. The credit for that goes to AT&T’s Bell Laboratories, that came up with the Operating System called Unix in the late 60’s. Unix was coded in assembly language, which at the time was the only programming language around. It was, however, rewritten in C language in a few years.

Surprisingly enough, the create of open source was an accident. It wasn’t planned. When Unix was released in the common market, there was an Antitrust case at the time that prevented the company from entering the software industry. As a result, Bell Laboratories was forced to release the source code to anyone who wanted to adopt the platform.


Accident or not, the concept of open source instantly got popular. Transparency was added for the first time ever to the field of software. Even IBM began to take notice, although at the time it never conceived the notion that it could be replaced by this “hipster-ish” concept. Fast forward to today, and one may think that IBM should have been more proactive at the time.

Then came Linux kernel, considered a significant upgrade on Unix. The Linux kernel was initially adopted for supercomputers by organizations such as NASA. The kernel was meant solely for personal computers. As a result, it is not surprising that the rise of personal computers in the 90’s coincided with Linux’s rise to stardom.

Additionally, companies such as IBM and Dell began to see an opportunity here to thwart Microsoft’s OS dominance. They began to let in the Linux kernel into their hardware equipment. And the rest, as they say, is history.