The Future of Open Source Is So Bright...

DZone 's Guide to

The Future of Open Source Is So Bright...

... that it needs to wear shades. Let's take a look at the companies and trends that have elevated open source to the heights it maintains today.

· Open Source Zone ·
Free Resource

To gather insights on the current and future state of open source software (OSS), we talked to 31 executives. This is nearly double the number we speak to for a research guide and believe this reiterates the popularity of, acceptance of, and demand for OSS.

We began by asking, "What’s the future of Open Source software from your perspective?" Here's what they told us:


  • Very bright; Docker has radically changed the way OSS is consumed, and now it’s very simple to distribute OSS to a wider audience.
  • It will continue to accelerate and be integrated in different ways to solve problems and achieve results. Start caring about upgrades. Data shows people don’t upgrade and this results in tremendous liability. Some companies have an effort to look inside and start licensing components by hand to look at risk and to know what’s going on. Security and legal need to work together to assess risk.
  • Open source business models evolve to address the challenge of monetization. MuleSoft has done this with their terms of use so they are compensated if someone generates revenue from their solution. The proliferation of frameworks will continue. Open source will play an even larger role as unique business logic is layered on top.
  • There will be an uptick in adoption of open-source tools. More companies will offer proprietary services with an open-sourced core (open-core model). Open source software will start focusing on usability and adoption by the mainstream as opposed to focusing on innovation.
  • I expect the importance of open source software to continue to grow. I see more and more companies recognize the value in open sourcing architecture components they develop and then sharing the maintenance and enhancement of those components with the community. The commercial opportunities that arise from providing services in these products are also widely recognized, which actually increases the incentive to open source as companies see an opportunity to get someone else to invest in improving the technology they rely on.
  • It’s definitely growing rapidly. All of the big players are joining the OSI. Someone needs to take ownership of the solutions to the problems. If someone doesn’t take ownership I’m not sure it will continue to grow. Google has made a lot of contributions. Perhaps they’ll take it over?
  • I see three renditions of what’s needed. Communities are islands. Docker with open orchestration into microservices with Kubernetes. There’s a true Russian doll architecture of how code bases work together with dependencies across the board. Centers of gravity as people use all three elements together in solutions. Commingling of data and AI to act on the information. Spark and TensorFlow result in much open source activity.
  • Open source will continue to grow and make developers stronger touching all aspects of our lives.
  • The future of open source software is bright. In the past year, more software companies have started adopting the use of open source technology, and it has been identified as a viable business model. Part of this can be attributed to the fact that it brings transparency, encourage innovation and improves the work environment.
  • It’s a mechanism for large companies to collaborate on non-differentiating software that will continue to grow.
  • Continue to grow and get bigger. How to make money from open source? Sell the services around the open source project. UI Orbit is in the cloud and host for customers. Hosted service, hosted UI, hosted management platforms.
  • 1) When open source first emerged two decades ago, it was mostly alternatives to commercial applications that were created by — sometimes quite idealistic — lone wolves. While some of these projects grew a community and became successful, the vast majority suffered from a lack of commercial support, which inevitably led to a lack of attention in the long run and therefore a discontinued maintenance and development. 2) Today, the viability of open source has fundamentally changed because there is a commercially justified interest in continuous investments. At least two proven models for not just consuming, but in fact creating, open source technology have emerged: As a side effect of internal innovation; or, as a strategic element of a business model. 3) This evolution has led to the sustainability and predictability of open source projects, which fuels adoption by even the most conservative companies across all industries. This has worked especially for “infrastructure” technology like databases, middleware or workflow automation. 4) I expect open source will be increasingly relevant for infrastructure components and basically end the dominance of big software companies in this market. I don’t expect to see this trend happen with end-user applications because much of what has driven the adoption of open source is missing there, especially the element of “developers creating something that is used by other developers.” However, I do believe that end-user applications will continue to move into the cloud, and those SaaS products will be heavily based on open source components like databases, workflow engines, etc.


  • Open source will be a key driver of innovation. For example, tools like TensorFlow have helped to democratize machine learning by making machine learning something that is implementable within an enterprise. We will continue to see open source as a means to enable innovation and more and more enterprises will begin to look toward open source to drive their future roadmaps.
  • The future is largely here. Customers benefit every day from work being done somewhere else. Facebook just released a computer vision object detection framework which is built on their previously released machine learning library. This isn't to say we'll use that, but it very well might be something that might make our products better. Meanwhile, we already use advanced Machine Learning technologies developed as part of Spark and other projects. The future of open source is the place where advanced cutting-edge technologies are developed. This is where the real geeks and even everyday people come together and make computers do everything from think to make things.
  • We expect to see the broadest impact around AI and machine learning. Open source will democratize AI and create a community of more innovation. We’ll also see major advancements in containers like Docker and Kubernetes as they are the future of Open Source.
  • The future of open source software is bright. More and more vendors will contribute new open source software. Nontraditional software companies like Capital One, which are on the move to become akin to a software company, will continue to develop new open standards and contribute open source software. More and more open source software will be written in the AI/Blockchain/IoT domain. Open source organizations like Apache Foundation will continue to drive new projects in the open source space and new innovative open source communities like openai.com will be established.
  • We believe that open source will always exist. It’s a great place to innovate and develop projects quickly due to the opportunities to “crowdsource” from great minds to solve major problems in our industry. However, we believe that the software produced by open source often only solve a singular problem for most companies when they are actually trying to solve greater issues and achieve business outcomes.
  • With every new language, a slew of new developers comes along and creates a whole new ecosystem and community around that language. We’ll see the open source world continue to expand, with more new and innovative projects released every year. I believe we’ll also see more corporate sponsorship and backing of open source projects, which will allow for more open source projects to flourish. We’ll also see communities begin taking security more seriously.

Open Source Surpasses Commercial

  • The future is brilliant as the ecosystem continues to grow. Open source has won the battle of the software landscape.
  • We’re well beyond the tipping point where open source software has become critical to organizations of all shapes and sizes. We expect to see complete platforms that include both open source and proprietary components coming to the market, taking full advantage of what open source has to offer while making it easy for companies to quickly adopt the technologies.
  • Just part of how software is done. You’re expecting the new project is probably open source backed. New frontiers like open source hardware. Stay vigilant on security with lots of contributions people need to think about dependencies.
  • Open source software will maintain, if not broaden, its central role in the broad software ecosystem. Domains dominated by proprietary software will continue to be invaded by open source and more and more large companies (e.g., Microsoft) will invest heavily in open source, releasing both existing and new software under open source licenses. As more software gets consumed as a service rather than as a source, it will be interesting to see how open source principles keep pace. Open source principles are also moving out into other fields, related or not: open source hardware is growing rapidly and allowing for an entire ecosystem of hardware development never seen before. Open collaboration in academia is on the rise, allowing researchers in all sorts of fields, not just computer science, to share information in ways that are speeding up discoveries by leaps and bounds.
  • Open Source has won, and in many cases will become, the default model for most software projects. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a movement back to Copyleft-based licenses as more companies move to SaaS. While many new components are licensing under non-Copyleft open source licenses, the fact that SaaS-based companies aren’t required to share their improvements or customizations, the community may respond in a way to require this. A license much like the LGPL, but for the SaaS distribution model, would encourage this sharing of modifications (e.g. a LAGPL)
  • Open source as a movement has conquered the IT industry and academia. 20 years ago, it was hard not to be laughed at by bringing Linux as an alternative to SCO or HP/UX. The future of open source is to keep on innovating and to become commonplace across operating systems - even on Windows environments (who could have predicted that?)


  • There's a push by Google and other big players. I expect barriers in licensing will increase. More big companies are just developing code and restricting use. It’s a little sad.
  • Barriers to creating software have declined. There will be increasing luminaries that help companies navigate the landscape. Opportunity for people and organizations to provide advice to companies to make sense of the landscape. Gartner, Forrester, IDC value of an advisory service. A greater way for individual contributors to open source to have more of a voice on the future of their projects.
  • For most developers, the next twelve months will look a lot like the last twelve months, which is to say, more people are going to be using the front-end library React to build web applications, more people are going to be installing things with our package manager, and more people are going to be learning to write JavaScript. Those are what our statistical trends would project, using the data from the billions of software downloads that happen on our package manager every week. Beyond that, there will probably be a new framework entering the mix, and everyone will be very suspicious of this and claim, “We don’t need it” for a while, but then they’ll adopt it wholeheartedly when they understand the use case it solves problems for.
  • The future promises to be one where developers have a huge buffet of choices. While it’s great to have options, some developers will suffer from a “paradox of choice” and fear of making the wrong bet, thus we see them starting to flock towards solutions that have broad backing in the market rather than necessarily choosing ones that are fit to purpose. Unfortunately, this threatens to reduce the size of Eric Raymond’s “bazaar” to projects sponsored or run by well-capitalized large players. It’s going to be increasingly tough for small, point-solution projects (or vendors) to survive.
  • Open source software is now at the core of our web browsers, operating systems, and many other aspects of our everyday life. We will continue to see open source proliferate in common, everyday tasks as IoT and wearables continue to grow in popularity. Coupled with the open standards designed to facilitate open communication between them, these will be the areas of focus for open source software in the future.

Here’s who shared their insights with us:

java, licensing, open source, oss

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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