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Open source predictions for 2021

Jack Wallen dons his prognostication fedora to predict what he believes will be a banner year for open source.


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When I think of open source and 2021, a Saga song comes to mind: “On The Loose.” I believe no one can stop open source in the coming year–that’s how big it’s going to get. That’s saying something, given how enterprise businesses already depend on open source technology on a daily basis. The dependency we’re currently experiencing is nothing compared to what I predict for the coming year.

Of course, it’s not just about business, as I have one rather bold prediction for consumers as well.

What are these predictions? Let me warm up my crystal ball, dim the lights, drop the needle on some music to create the perfect ambiance, and gaze deep into the waters of the future.

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Kubernetes simplified

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Kubernetes is a challenge. Even for experienced admins, deploying successful pods and services is a task that is often more frustrating than it is rewarding. However, I believe there is hope on the horizon. I predict that 2021 will finally bring a web- or client-based tool that will make Kubernetes management a true point-and-click affair. 

Instead of having to craft complicated pod/container manifests, admins and developers will only have to make selections from drop-downs and checkboxes to deploy a basic container/pod. 

What’s best, the software to power this solution will actually be easy to deploy–either as a Docker container or a binary executable. Either way, I look for someone to bring a level of simplicity to Kubernetes we’ve yet to see. 

Of course, it will be open source.

Proprietary solutions get the boot

What will be seen as a major win for open source, businesses will start giving proprietary solutions the boot. What will be the primary driving force behind this change? Money and integration. In light of the pandemic continuing to have a stranglehold over the world, businesses will continue to look for ways to cut costs. One of the easiest wins is the continued migration from proprietary to open source solutions.

Surprisingly, the biggest issue to drive this change is interoperability. As businesses continue to integrate more and more open source solutions, the domino effect will be that more and more open source solutions will be required. When the only way a business can leverage open source Technology X is by integrating it into open source Technology Y, that integration will require the use of open source Technology Z to serve as the bridge. This type of shift will run rampant through businesses, until their entire backend is composed of nothing but open source technology.

Goodbye proprietary solutions.

FOG computing

FOG computing will be the big buzzword of the year. What is FOG computing? Simple: A distributed network that connects edge computing and cloud or IoT together. The purpose is to connect the location where data is created to what will either store or use said data.

FOG computing will be powered by open source solutions like OpenStack, Docker, Kubernetes and Ansible, Prometheus, and Grafana.  FOG computing will also usher in a new era for the cloud–one that is decentralized and distributed. 

By the end of 2021 expect to see more and more FOG computing to be rolled out. 

Big data gets even bigger

This trend of big data just keeps on climbing and should come as no surprise to anyone. The difference in 2021 is that open source will not only be leading the charge, it will dominate the sector at unheard of levels.

I can hear you proclaiming open source already powers big data, but 2021 is going to see even more open source technologies leading big data into the future. 

Where the surprise comes is who will be at the head of this charge: SUSE.

With SUSE acquiring Rancher Labs, it will be primed to be the enterprise solution for big data, but it’s not just adding Rancher Labs into the fold. SUSE is already the de facto standard for SAP HANA rollouts. With their SUSE Manager tool serving as one of the single best solutions for large environment management, there’ll be no stopping the company from taking big data by storm and leading it into a most open future.

Linux begins enterprise desktop rollouts

Thanks to companies like System76, Lenovo, and Dell, businesses have serious options for Linux on the desktop. Although the open source platform has struggled to make much headway in that space, 2021 will be a different story. 

I believe we’ll start seeing more and more companies (small to large) buying into Linux on the desktop. This will have the added benefit of even more companies jumping into the mix and offering more and more desktops and laptops, all powered by Linux and open source technology. 

One added bonus for this movement is that System76 will finally gain the recognition they’ve deserved for so many years. Linux on the desktop would not be where it is today, had it not been for their stalwart support for open source technology. Year after year, System76 has proved that high-quality, business-class systems, powered by Linux, can be produced at a level befitting the enterprise.

2021 will be a very good year for Linux desktops in business.

Linux on the home desktop will start to gain serious traction

That success within the realm of business will start trickling down to consumers. As more and more people start using Linux at their place of business, they’ll begin seeing the benefits of the open source operating system and desire to adopt it for their home computers. 

I suspect that by the end of 2021, we’ll see Linux desktop market share to finally break the 10% bubble. It may not sound like much, but given how Linux has hovered around 2% and maxed out at 5%, that 10% figure is like a dream come true.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg. Although Linux will max out at around 10% by the end of the year, it will lead to continued growth over the coming years.

So what do you say, open source community? Are you ready for 2021 to start? I’m sure you are, for more reasons than just your favorite technology.

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