What’s happening with open source technology at the end of 2016?


Open source is continuously evolving and in 2016, it was the key driver of the digital transformation permeating all walks of life.  In 2017, open source is all set to touch new heights with not just refinements to make existing technologies better, but also with new path breaking paradigms.

  1. Collaboration to Touch New Heights

Open source developers have engaged in collaboration ever since Linus Torvalds introduced Git in 2005, to organize revisions to the Linux kernel. Since then GitHub, Bitbucket, and GitLab have been in vogue as popular Git implementations. Among these, GitHub has gained the most traction and is today the leading code repository and versioning system in the world, hosting about 27 million projects.

Millions of developers rely on GitHub not just for collaboration, but also to avoid reinventing the wheel or to avoid redoing the code already done and posted by someone else. Still, such collaborative platforms have limited functionality. However, exciting new prospects are now in the pipeline that would take collaboration to a whole new level. Machine learning is poised to become the magic wand that enables collaborative platforms to bring people, resources, and data together, to form workgroups on the fly, demolishing silos that have traditionally hampered collaboration. There would also be a greater integration of social capabilities into collaborative platforms. The “magic search” feature introduced by Flock, which automatically displays important groups and contacts, besides videoconferencing, polling capabilities and more, offer a glimpse into the direction collaboration will take in the near future.

  1. The Return of the SQL

NoSQL databases such as MongoDB and Cassandra are the rage now, and have relegated the seemingly “archaic” SQL databases to the background. However, one of the big surprises in 2017 may be the return of SQL.

NoSQL gained ground in the first place owing to its flexible data modelling and scale. However, new SQL products such as ClustrixDB, VoltDB, DeepSQL, and MemSQL allow simply adding commodity nodes to the database, rather than bullding up a database server, as NoSQL does. In any case, cloud database-as-a-service offerings like Amazon Aurora and Google Cloud SQL put an end to scale-out issues.

SQL, though overshadowed by NoSQL never went out of vogue because of the inherent limitations of NoSQL. For all the advantages NoSQL offers, popular analytical tools still require SQL, and for this reason, NoSQL databases offer SQL interoperability. With SQL on the verge of overcoming its drawbacks, the tables have turned, and in 2017, it would be NoSQL struggling to stay relevant!

  1. The Dominance of Containerization

Microservices running in Docker containers on scalable cloud infrastructure are the future of applications. However, the concept has still not become center stage owing to the inherent problems associated with managing and orchestrating monolithic applications, when broken into microservices. Solutions such as Docker Swarm, Apache Mesos, and Google Kubernetes have emerged to offer a solution. Among these, Kubernetes has several things going for it. It draws on Google’s expertise in running containers in production at scale, and is supported by all leading cloud platforms.

However, the dominance of Kubernetes is not certain. For instance, a slew of new container management and orchestration tools unveiled at the AWS re:Invent conference held during the last week of November 2016 is certain to shake the market. As the different players battle it out for dominance, what’s certain is that containerization will be the way forward to roll out applications in 2017.

  1. The Emergence of Serverless Computing

Given a choice, developers would just want to concentrate on application logic and UI design. In reality, they end up spending a big chunk of their times worrying about infrastructure. While the trend is to pile abstractions upon abstractions, the emergence of serverless computing platforms has the potential to take infrastructure to a next level, and promise to make infrastructural worries a thing of the past.

Serverless computing, or Function as a Service (FaaS), spares the need for developers to purchase or set up servers or virtual machines, to run the back end code. The cloud provider starts and stops virtual machines as required, to serve requests. The billing, by an abstract measure of the resources rather than on a per-hour basis, makes the set up extremely cost-efficient as well.

AWS Lambda is the early starter, already rolling out serverless computing solutions. Other biggies such as Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, and also startups such as Iron.io also provide a serverless computing platform. The trend is likely to grow big in 2017, considering the significant advantages on offer. Soon, capital investment in IT may become a retarded concept.

  1. The March of the Open Source Partnership in the Mobility Space

With mobility the rage now, businesses are scurrying to optimize their products and services for the mobile. Forrester Research estimates companies are to spend about $189 billion a year, by 2017, to shift their business processes to fit the mobile world. 

Mobile application development is becoming increasingly open-source with every passing year. Open source development framework such as PhoneGap, and Configure.IT are now the most popular solutions to develop cross-platform mobile apps, leveraging smartphone features such as geo-location capabilities, accelerometer, contacts sync, sound and vibration. Android developers using Visual Studio now have an open source option as well.

Also, while the focus on 2016 was to create mobile front-ends such as responsive websites and apps, in 2017 the focus will expand to provisioning thoroughly secure data centers, robust to withstand potential attacks from multiple points of entry that mobile devices herald.

  1. Biggies Enter the Open Source Pond in a Big Way

Open source is already the foundation for technology development, being the preferred way of germinating hot new technology, particularly for startups. So great has been the success that established majors such as Microsoft are now embracing open source, and becoming big source contributors. In recent times, Google has developed AngularJS, the most popular JavaScript framework, and contributed to the development of Docker in a big way. Facebook has been instrumental in the development of Cassandra NoSQL database and the React JavaScript library. Microsoft has thrown open its proprietary .NET server stack as open source.

With such developments, end user developers never had it so easy or better. However, it also raises a paradox. The popularity of open source was in a big way fueled by the need for freedom from the big corporation, but today, the dominance of such very corporations make it tough to be an independent vendor of open source software. Open source vendors with traditional “pay-for-support-only” business models find the journey tough, while the “commercial open source” companies with multi-tiered subscriptions that closely resemble the proprietary world, are ruling the roost.

Nevertheless, nothing would stop the open-source juggernaut. The code-sharing economy has achieved its network effect and gained significant traction. In 2017, the awesome engine of collective creativity is sure to propel the entire ecosystem to new levels.

Suyati’s Center of Excellence in Free and Open Source provides a range of services in various open source platforms including Python, PHP, Node.js, Ruby on Rails and more. Contact us to know more about Suyati’s Open Source solutions.


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Author : Nayab Naseer Date : 29 Dec 2016