Open source to take over mainstream IT

Open source-based IT jobs will grow and the cloud will be ubiquitous, as long as community takes certain steps, according to roadmap from Open World Forum.
Written by Peter Judge, Contributor

Within the next 12 years, 40 percent of IT jobs will be related to open source, and open source-based cloud computing will be solving many problems in the real world, open source advocates have predicted.

The predictions were made in the 2020 Floss Roadmap, produced for the Open World Forum event in Paris this week.

The authors of the roadmap outlined seven areas of change for 2020:

  • Floss (free/libre/open-source software) will become mainstream. It will be the de facto standard for areassuch as development tools, infrastructure and scientific computing, as well as being widespread in other sectors
  • Forty percent of IT jobs will be related to Floss
  • Floss will free businesses from vendor lock-in, providing a "vaccine against abusive behaviour from a commercial vendor"
  • Floss will help reduce the global digital divide, as it is a collaborative effort that works for sustainable development of a shared resource
  • Open-source communities will help build business ecosystems for specific markets
  • Green datacentres will lead to business models with a low ecological impact, in "the next industrial revolution"
  • Cloud computing will be ubiquitous, and social networking will be the main way to communicate with businesses and government

For this vision of the future to become reality, the open-source community has to take several steps, the authors said. For example, the community has to help set a tone of "openness" when working with companies and governments, and encourage these to adopt the same approach. In addition, the community must push for a stable legal system for software--and this includes standing firm against the idea of software patents.

Companies and universities have to invest in open source research and development, as well as training, according to the report. They must also promote the use of open-source software and the idea that users should make a contribution back to the open source world. The report also warns that different open source communities can be insular, and states that they must participate in "cross-fertilization" and code-sharing.

Cloud computing offers a big opportunity for the Floss movement, as cloud providers very often use open-source infrastructure, according to the report. But there are risks in this, since these providers may not contribute to the open source ecosystem. If that occurs, the open-source model could get "diluted", according to the report. For example, some open source licenses may be irrelevant or unenforceable in a situation where users buy a service rather than software.

The way to combat this is for service providers to develop open platforms, built around shared infrastructures, and use them to deliver open services under new licenses, the authors said. "Industry alone cannot resolve every problem," they cautioned, arguing for open services on the model of free-content sites such as Wikipedia.

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