How Open Source Software Fuels Digital Innovation


Open source has permanently changed the way we work and conduct our business. Linux and thousands of other open source projects and open standards now dominate the software landscape, supporting emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and edge computing. Without open source, the DevOps tool ecosystem would lack Docker, Kubernetes, service mesh, popular databases, and many of the CI/CD tools that DevOps teams use daily.

Now more than ever, businesses are looking for ways to meet growing user demands. The pandemic has amplified this urgency, accelerating existing digital transformation initiatives. Arguably, open source is the engine that now powers the digital innovation needed to be competitive. Leveraging open source could also help control rising cloud costs. With proprietary solutions falling out of favor, many business leaders are embracing open source alternatives for infrastructure modernization and application development.

Red Hat recently released its third annual report State of enterprise open source report. The report surveyed 1,250 IT managers around the world about their patterns of adopting and using open source. The results validate what most of us already know: open source is now fundamental to most tech stacks. Without it, most development projects would fall apart in an instant.

Open-source use cases

Open source is at the heart of modern software development. According to the report, 90% of enterprise IT managers use open source. So where is open source applied? Well, 64% of companies use open source software for IT infrastructure modernization. The report speculated that this could be because Linux and open source infrastructure are replacing proprietary systems.

The report also revealed that 54% of companies use open source for application development. It’s no surprise, as engineers regularly adopt open-source libraries and packages to create B2B and user-centric experiences. In a digital-only environment, apps are the lifeblood of many businesses, and open source is essential scaffolding.

The third largest use case for enterprise open source is digital transformation, at 53%. This figure has increased by 11 percentage points in the past two years alone. Open source will likely continue to replace non-digital or manual processes with automated software-based processes.

In the enterprise, open source is used in networks, adopted by 54% of companies, databases, at 53% and security, at 52%. Other areas mentioned in the report include big data analytics and cloud management tools.

In recent years, multi-cloud has become a notable trend. The idea is that organizations are looking for multiple cloud providers to support different use cases. The Red Hat report confirmed this assumption, finding that 69% of respondents prefer using multiple providers for their cloud. As hybrid multi-cloud setups proliferate, cloud expertise and smart multi-cloud business practices continue to grow in importance.

Containers and K8

Open source components are the basis of containers and container management utilities. As reliance on containers grows, so will reliance on open source technology. The report found that just under half of companies now use containers in production. Another 37% also use containers for development purposes only.

To orchestrate these containers, the IT teams gathered around Kubernetes. Sixty-six percent of respondents rate Kubernetes as very or extremely important. As Kubernetes becomes ubiquitous, growth in container usage is expected to continue – around one in three respondents said their container usage will increase significantly over the next 12 months.

“Kubernetes has become the de-facto standard for Linux container development,” said Michael Hinterland, team lead, ICS cloud & automation and ICS system & middleware, Porsche Informatik.

Although Kubernetes is on the rise, there are certainly gaps between industries. For example, 62% of respondents from financial services and telecommunications have adopted containers in production, while other sectors, such as healthcare and retail, have seen lower adoption of containers in production. production, at 47% and 50%, respectively. The highly regulated financial services industry also scored high on Database DevOps, a separate report recently concluded.

Advantages and Obstacles of Open Source

There are many advantages to using enterprise open source software. On the one hand, a commitment to open source brings improvements in transparency and collaboration. Respondents also cited higher quality software, access to the latest innovations, and improved security as some of the top benefits of adopting open source software.

But open source also has its drawbacks; 42% of technology leaders identified lack of support as a top barrier to adopting open source in the enterprise. This is true – community projects generally do not offer traditional support systems. Without accessible learning frameworks, creating a large-scale center of excellence becomes difficult.

Other key barriers to enterprise open source adoption include compatibility, code security, and lack of internal skills. Bringing open source into a business means upskilling the workforce and encouraging default secure settings to avoid costly configuration errors. It could also mean working with trusted allies who advance open source initiatives, the report recommends.

Open source fuels emerging technology

“Open source has established itself as a driver of innovation for the software industry,” wrote Paul Cormier, president and CEO of Red Hat.

Indeed, open source is at the heart of most cutting-edge emerging technologies. For example, 55% of respondents report using enterprise open source in edge computing and Internet of Things (IoT) settings. At the same time, 48% of respondents use open source for artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML). Amid open source projects like OpenAI and GPT–3, AI is eating up the software worldreports Forbes.

Both categories are expected to increase by almost 20 percentage points over the next two years, while the use of proprietary solutions for AI/ML will decline. Open source will continue to affect purchasing decisions, as 83% of IT managers are more likely to choose a vendor who has contributed to the open source community.

In a world influenced by COVID-19, “the problems are too big to be solved by one person, one company or one organization,” Cormier said. “But it’s times like this that open source really shows its power.”


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