Predictions for open source and cloud over the months ahead

Cloud with computer circuitry - the cloud and open source
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Blackboard)

It’s no secret that public cloud has exponentially grown in recent years but what is particularly exciting to me is the acceleration of open source adoption too. Public cloud has freed enterprises of their ties to proprietary software, and they are adopting open source technologies in unprecedented numbers. In fact, a recent survey of enterprise developers conducted by Aiven found that 85% of enterprises reported they already used open source in their organization and over 90% of developers say that open source will be a part of their businesses in the future.

About the author

Heikki Nousiainen is CTO and co-founder at Aiven.

Already this year, we’ve seen exciting momentum across the industry. So, what can we expect as we move towards the second half of 2021? Here are my predictions:

Open source adoption has made great strides and will continue to accelerate

There’s no doubt that open source software made significant strides last year. In a drive to double down on security, Microsoft, Google, IBM and other tech leaders co-founded the Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF). This cross-industry collaboration, hosted by the Linux Foundation, will improve the security of open source software through targeted initiatives and the creation of best practices. Initial projects will focus on a range of issues including vulnerability disclosures, security tooling, and digital identity attestation.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the open source community reacted quickly by disseminating data under the open model and creating dashboards and apps to track the progression of the virus. DP3T or Decentralised Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing was designed in the open to ensure the right balance between privacy and effectiveness in contact tracing technology. Building on this technology, Apple and Google collaborated in the fight against COVID-19 by providing a common API to enable the creation of standard applications by health authorities around the world. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a surge of open hardware designs for ventilators and other critical equipment that was in short supply.

The open source community also turned its attention towards the issue of climate change last year, an ever-important issue that organizations and global leaders around the world are under increasing pressure to address. The Linux Foundation launched the LF Climate Finance Foundation, leveraging open source tools to increase funding of climate change solutions.

Following the upward trajectory of last year, we’ll continue to see an accelerated rate of open source adoption in the remainder of 2021. The truth is the benefits outweigh the difficult skill sets it takes to use these technologies. There is still a huge number of companies transitioning to the cloud, and open source will play a large role in that adoption during their digital transformations.

The cloud market will experience both transformation and disruption

It’s difficult to talk about the cloud without mentioning some of the industry giants who power it. And in a year like 2021, it will be nearly impossible. Forrester predicts the global public cloud infrastructure market will balloon in 2021, seeing 35% growth and reaching $120 billion. At Aiven, we’re interested to see if this estimate turns out to be too low due to the enormous demand for public cloud usage, much of which can be attributed to the business agility benefits associated with cloud transformation.

It’s fair to assume that AWS, Azure and GCP will dominate the market as ever, but we’re eager to see what other challengers like IBM and OVH have to offer. While it may seem unlikely, it will be interesting to see if any of the major cloud providers follow IBM and separate their cloud service from the rest of the business.

Public cloud growth certainly goes hand in hand with increasing numbers of organizations supercharging their digital transformation strategies, with many businesses leaning on technologies that mesh well with cloud adoption. So similarly, I expect that we’ll see the growth of digital concepts and solutions like IoT and containerization across various industries. The growth of IoT and smart devices will continue rapidly in 2021, dependent on where sensors can be placed and what kind of data can be collected and transformed into additional insights. With the world becoming far more connected, we will also see a continuous increase in demand for analytical capabilities.

Made-to-measure databases will be in high demand

The onslaught of data in 2021 will reveal a vast need for made-to-measure databases over the months ahead. In particular, time-series databases (TSBD) will be in high demand this year and will continue to be the fastest-growing segment of databases throughout 2021. While there is plenty of space for several successful entrants into the market, we can also expect to see the adoption of common standards like OpenTelemetry growing in this space.

Managed services will be in demand more than ever before

As we've seen in recent years, the digitalization trend continues to reshape business and markets. The winners in this transformation are the most agile and adaptive organizations, that are looking to take advantage of open source and cloud technology while avoiding the burden of installation and maintenance that these solutions can bring. As a result, demand for managed services will remain strong and will play a key role in enabling resources to be focused on business-critical tasks and development.

Consumers increasingly expect to be able to place orders or conduct their business at any time of the day, putting pressure on maintaining service levels around the clock every day of the year. Managed open source providers are rising to this challenge and will continue to help manage greater amounts of data demanded by the data driver business.

A promising outlook for open source and cloud over the months ahead

Open source and cloud technologies are heading in an exciting direction. As more momentum gathers behind open source, more resources will be dedicated to important projects such as those overseen by the Open Source Security Foundation. There will also be greater capacity to leverage the advantages of open source software to tackle the greatest challenges facing the world today, from pandemics to climate change.

With a vast number of benefits to offer enterprises looking to become more agile and competitive, cloud and open source technologies will be a critical component to enterprises’ recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses can pick and choose the solutions that work best for them and their business goals; and the availability of managed service providers allows them to reap the advantages of these solutions, without the associated burdens of installation and maintenance.

We’ve already seen huge and accelerating growth to date in open source and the cloud. This will no doubt be a pattern that continues throughout 2021 and beyond.

Heikki Nousiainen is CTO and co-founder at Aiven.