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January 22, 2018updated 23 Jan 2018 4:44pm

Open source in the enterprise: Trends and opportunities in 2018

Thomas Di Giacomo, CTO at SUSE, outlines key trends and emerging opportunities in open source and enterprise IT for 2018.

By James Nunns

Some big events are set to come in 2018 – the recently announced Royal Wedding, the football World Cup in Russia and the incoming general data protection regulation (GDPR) to name just a few. And 2018 is also set to be a significant year for business technology.

Some of the key trends in enterprise IT will include the continued move to hybrid cloud, the emergence of the container infrastructure ecosystem and ongoing growth in software-defined infrastructure and storage.

Most interestingly, we foresee a number of significant open source developments here. So what exactly should we expect to see? And how can IT teams make the most of these emerging opportunities?


Diversification of the public cloud landscape

The public cloud will continue to diversify in the coming year, as we begin to see the maturation of hybrid cloud strategies. Consulting organisations such as Wipro are developing their own managed cloud services. Alongside this, a number of local cloud players, like OVH, are gradually emerging as global players in the industry. As a result, we are seeing more cloud providers appear worldwide.

open source

Thomas Di Giacomo is CTO at SUSE.

A key advantage of employing a hybrid or multi-cloud approach is that businesses do not risk lock-in. Those organisations that do all their compute and have all their data in the same public cloud do face this risk. Consequently, we’ll see the trend towards a hybrid approach continue to pick up speed.

Faced with running a hybrid cloud strategy, IT will not only need to enable different clouds to run side by side but also be able to maintain and manage them for a long time. Ensuring workloads and data are running and managed agnostically and dynamically on any cloud is essential. More solutions will emerge in this space though growth in competition may force costs down. However, this pressure on price will only affect non-open source solutions in this space.

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Containerised applications

2018 will see interesting developments that impact the future of Kubernetes and point the way for the evolution of the container ecosystem at large, on top of the orchestration layer, to deliver value to developers.

The open-source orchestration engine burst onto the scene two years ago, enabling organisations to automate deployment, scale and manage containerised applications. It has already achieved container orchestration dominance but experts are predicting further adoption as organisations realise its full potential over the next few years.

As a next step, the technology will be focusing on the container ecosystem at large. Kubernetes and the container world will need to tackle security for containers, service meshing, networking, management and storage, as well as tools on top of it to abstract it further away from application development. This has already begun but we expect increased and new developments in this space this year. As maturity and adoption develop, it’s just a question of whether a consolidation of Kubernetes-based solutions and companies will take place in the market this year or further down the line.


Hardware re-emerges as a competitive differentiator

Bucking the trend for software hitting the spotlight, hardware will become more important as a key competitive differentiator than ever before.

The industry has seen trends emerge such as open hardware, with compute power for both traditional high performance computing (HPC) use cases and the ability to power some of the newer technologies, such as deep learning, machine learning and quantum computing. As just one example, specialised processing units are being used to optimise specific types of computations. The quantum computing market alone is on track to be worth almost $500 million by 2023, highlighting how hardware will become even more important over the next couple of years.


Open up to being open in 2018

A big focus for companies in 2018 will be figuring out how to effectively combine the most useful emerging technologies – from the Internet of Things (IoT) to artificial intelligence (AI). However, organisations will need to go further and work out how best to integrate these new technologies with existing infrastructure. For example, big data and existing analytics can generate useful insights when combined with machine learning but businesses will need to find ways to both combine and manage them effectively (and, at the end of the day, utilise them effectively to ensure a positive impact on their business).

From an open source perspective, organisations will need to come around to the idea of working with competitors if we’re ever going to achieve success combining the stack. The huge number of combinations today is only getting bigger. As a result, it’s more important than ever to be open.

Both this year and in future, the industry must continue to make the most of the open source community and use the resources and expertise available instead of taking a ‘DIY’ approach in most situations. IT leaders should turn to the open source community for rapidly growing technologies like containerisation and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), focusing on the business value they could create with such technology rather than building it from scratch.

With various technologies – from hybrid cloud to containers – due to mature further this year, collaboration will be key. And if these are to be deployed effectively to provide real business value, they will need to be able to work collaboratively with each other and the existing infrastructure – both this year and in future.

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