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Free and open source software has a long and interesting history. It can trace some of its origins back to Richard Stallman’s annoying issue with a printer or to Linus Torvald’s computer science project while studying at the University of Helsinki.

Things have certainly changed since then.

Open source software is no longer simply a student project or even solely the domain of hobbyists and hackers. Today, it dominates practically every sector of the computing industry and has become a trusted stalwart for IT, used by everyone from individual consumers to the largest global corporations.

Open source projects are now at the forefront of all the top strategic technology trends impacting our world. Even if you haven’t decided to adopt them yet, you’ll want to keep your finger on the pulse of these trends and be ready to take advantage of them when the time is right.

I covered the first five technology trends in part 1 of this 2 part blog series. Here are the next five:

6.  3D Printing

3D printing is already being used to design and produce specialty parts for aerospace, manufacturing, F1 cars, drones, prosthetic limbs, medical research and even large industrial construction projects.

Some estimates suggest the market value for 3D printing could exceed $32 billion by 2023.

Analyst firm Gartner predicts that by 2021:

  • 75% of new commercial and military aircraft will fly with 3D printed engine, airframe and other components
  • 25% of surgeons will practice on 3D printed models of the patient prior to surgery
  • 20% of the world’s top 100 consumer goods companies will use 3D printing to create custom products.

The 3D printing and open source communities dovetail together nicely. There are a host of 3D printers available with both open hardware designs and open software source code. Check out this all3dp.com list for some of the options you might want to consider.

You can even get hold of a self-replicating open source 3D printer from RepRap. Once you have your own up and running, you can print all the parts to build another one for a friend.  You’ll also find a plethora of open source 3D image files (predesigned product templates) freely available to download and use.

7. VR/AR

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are on the verge of exploding beyond the boundaries of computer games or flight simulators.

VR describes a digital, computer-generated environment that’s real enough to explore and interact with. AR overlays VR elements or real-time information onto our own view of the real world to enhance what we are already experiencing – think Pokémon Go.

IDC forecasts that spending on AR/VR products and services will reach $27 billion in 2018. That’s almost double what it was a year ago. By 2020, Gartner predicts that AR, VR and mixed reality immersive solutions will be evaluated and adopted by 20% of large enterprises as part of their digital transformation strategy.

Expect to see VR and AR being used for training (from airline pilots to surgeons and beyond), healthcare (physical and psychological therapy), tourism and theme parks, product and architectural visualization, the arts, sports, entertainment and so much more.

The fields of VR and AR are alive with open source possibilities. Here are a couple to take a look at:

  1. Various open source platforms and engines are available for creating VR applications, games, digital twins and immersive media. Take a look at ApertusVR, OpenSpace3D and OSVR as examples.
  2. Open source SDKs (Software Development Kits) are on hand for building AR apps that enable your phone to sense its environment, understand what’s happening around it and allow you to interact with the information. Check out ARCore from Google, ARToolKit or DroidAR.

 

8. Blockchain

Blockchain has become almost inseparably linked with the Bitcoin cryptocurrency and both have been getting a massive amount of publicity recently. Even if you’re skeptical about the whole idea of cryptocurrencies, you may still want to take a look at Blockchain.

Blockchain makes it possible to set up a digital distributed ledger; effectively an unchangeable and transparent record for data and transactions. Think of it as a global register of truth. No wonder it’s creating a ripple of excitement in government, financial, commercial and healthcare circles.

451 Research reports that 28% of enterprises are already experimenting with Blockchain.

Your organization should be too, if any of the following factors are important to your business:

Smart contracts; identity and fraud management; anti-money laundering; legal and financial transactions; keeping personal records accessible but still secure; ensuring the security of IoT systems.

As you might expect, open source is delivering some top-notch Blockchain technology options and platforms. They include HyperLedger, Openchain, Ethereum, HydraChain (an extension of the Ethereum platform), Quorum and MultiChain.

In the interest of balance, I should point out that BlockChain has very specific uses. It won’t be of interest to everyone. Take a look at the 11 questions in this World Economic Forum article to help decide if BlockChain could be right for your business.

9. Cloud/Mobile/SDx

Cloud computing has now been around for well over 20 years.  Given that it’s so well established, can we really still think of it as a “hot tech trend”? Yes, I think we can.

Spending on cloud computing and mobile IT solutions is not about to slow down any time soon. Cloud IT is the common factor linking most of the other technology trends I’ve highlighted. The move to Software Defined Everything (SDx) seems unstoppable and our smartphones have become our portal to the information and media-driven world around us.

It’ll come as no surprise that open source is a major player in cloud computing. I’m reminded of the popular joke:

Child: Daddy, what are clouds made of?

Father: Linux servers, mostly.

According to Microsoft, 40% of all VMs (Virtual Machines) in Azure now are running Linux.  Most observers think the real number is much higher than that.

OpenStack is, without doubt, the top choice for anyone looking for an open source cloud platform. Ceph is the ideal Software Defined Storage (SDS) solution to help change the economics of cloud storage. And for containerized or cloud-native applications, Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry have quickly become open source leading lights.

10. Cyber Security

Data security breaches, viruses, ransomware attacks and other threats are becoming almost daily news items.

Cyber security is now one of the top concerns for nearly all IT leaders. Why? Because it impacts their ability to achieve their business goals and to protect their corporate reputation. Of course, their jobs and careers are also on the line.

No wonder Gartner forecasts worldwide security spending will reach $96 billion this year.

The threats come from all directions and open source software is not immune. However, it does have some major advantages. First, it has the power of the community behind it. The code is open. It’s there for everyone to look at. Bugs and issues can be quickly identified and fixed. A great example is how quickly SUSE and the Linux community reacted to the Meltdown and Spectre processor/chipset vulnerabilities and how fast patches were released.

There are also plenty of open source security tools available. Take a look at this HackerTarget.com webpage to see their list of the 15 essential open source security tools.

A Bright Future for Open Source

There seems little doubt that open source software is here to stay. It has battled over the past three decades to earn its place in the technology landscape. Beyond that, the level of innovation generated by the communities involved virtually ensures that open source will be a key factor in the technology trends of the future.

SUSE is proud to have been involved from the very beginning. Open source is our raison d’être.

If you’re looking for a little help on your own open source journey, SUSE is here to help guide you.  From Linux to Software-Defined Infrastructure and Application Delivery platforms, we can help you get started with enterprise-grade open source solutions.


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