The image of open source software has changed. No longer seen as the geeky, slightly awkward alternative to mainstream software, it’s now trendy, fashionable and super-cool.
Well, OK, it still has the geeky edge and it’s still all about innovation. However, it has grown and matured to the point where everyone from small businesses to tech giants and global enterprises have open source at the core of their strategies.
There’s no going back. We’ve reached the point where open source is providing viable and powerful alternatives to proprietary approaches or solutions. Open source projects now play a leading role in all the top strategic technology trends that are reshaping the world around us. It is important that you understand and track these technology trends, even if you don’t plan to use them in the near future.
To help you get familiar, I’ll be covering the top 10 technology trends and the associated open source projects in a 2 part blog series. Here are the first five technology trends you should be tracking right now:
1. Artificial intelligence (AI) / machine learning (ML)
According to Gartner, the business value derived from AI will be $1.2 Trillion this year. It’s expected to have an impact everywhere from customer support and chatbots to finance, research, machine learning, automating data center operations and security.
AI and ML require huge datasets and the compute capacity for fast data analysis. Many organizations are using high-performance computing (HPC) solutions to get this done and the king of the HPC world is Linux.
AI, ML, deep learning, predictive analysis and neural networks are among the hottest areas for technology research, so it’s no wonder open source projects are playing a major role. TensorFlow, Caffe, H2O, Mahout, and MLlib are leading examples, but there are plenty of other options available. Take a look at these lists at Datamation.com and KDnuggets.com for more.
Robotics is set to have a profound influence on our working environment and culture.
We’re already using robots for manufacturing, farming, warehousing, medical surgery, and automation. Expect to see more in the near future, including collaborative robots – or cobots – working alongside humans to improve efficiency and productivity.
The world of robotics is awash with open source projects focused on hardware, software and robot simulators. One example is ROS (Robotics Operating System), an open-source platform built on Linux. ROS provides tools and libraries to make it easier to design and control complex robots.
But there’s so much more available. Take a look at this Open-source Robotics Wikipedia page for a deeper dive into the open source options in this space.
3. Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing
IoT is moving us towards a smarter, more connected world. IoT solutions are already turning up in manufacturing, freight and transport, farming, asset management, smart infrastructure (homes, buildings, and cities), smart utilities (electricity, gas, and water) and even contextual marketing. The list is pretty lengthy – even without all the crazy IoT stuff that’s out there.
The lion’s share of IoT devices are using embedded Linux. This makes perfect sense when you are looking for a real-time OS that is simple, lightweight, lean on resources and low cost.
When it comes to moving processing and compute to the edge of the IoT network, OpenStack is proving popular for a distributed cloud model.
4. Autonomous vehicles/drones
Self-driving or autonomous vehicles are hot news right now. While they will likely start to be commercially available in 2020, don’t expect any major impact until maybe 2025.
On the other hand, Gartner says about 3 million personal or commercial drones were shipped last year.
When these technologies really take off (excuse the pun), self-driving cars and drones are set to be among the most significant advances in modern history.
Autonomous vehicles will need to run on a rock solid and secure OS. The idea of hackers breaking into the system is too worrying to contemplate. Telemetry, mapping, cameras, sensors, distance measuring, machine vision and machine learning techniques are also going to be crucial.
Car manufacturers are beginning to realize that the open source approach of collaboration and cooperation will make it easier to resolve many of these challenges. Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) and OpenCV are gaining in popularity, while even Tesla has recently decided to release its open-source Linux code.
For drones, open source has numerous projects to choose from. Take a look at the options on this Caldat.com list.
5. Big data and analytics
Big data analytics is another huge technology trend that can’t be ignored. IDC expects this market to reach $210 billion by 2020, largely led by banking and manufacturing investments.
Big data and data analytics is a common thread among many of the other trending technology areas, such as IoT, AI, ML and cloud computing.
Once again, open source is delivering many of the leading RDBMS (Relational Data Base Management Systems), analytics engines and distributed computing solutions needed in this space. These include EDB PostgreSQL, MariaDB, MongoDB, Apache Spark, Apache Cassandra, Apache Kafka and Hadoop.
One additional open source project is worthy of mention. Managing exponential data growth is a major issue. Big data and analytics are forcing organizations to think carefully about storage variety, volume and velocity.
Ceph is the open source software-defined storage solution that is helping solve this problem. Take a look at this SUSE blog to see why.
Watch out for part 2 of my blog series, when I’ll cover the remaining 5 of the top 10 technology trends and explain why open source is in the spotlight.