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2021 Predictions: Open Source Cloud Development Tools as the New Standard

Tuesday, December 22, 2020 - 08:35 by Brian King

During 2020 we began to witness the coming of age of open source Cloud Development Tool technologies and increased adoption of those technologies, along with the acceleration of remote workplace practices. My prediction is that 2021 will be a tipping point for Open Source Cloud IDEs and associated technologies.

Innovation happens around the edges, and that certainly has been, and continues to be, the case as more tooling has started moving to the cloud in recent years. Gitpod, an Eclipse Theia adopter, has been around for more than two years, adding value to their product to make developers' lives easier. With native GitLab integration announced recently, automated dev environments for common daily coding tasks are now available to more and more developers.

On the other hand, enterprise tooling offerings have been quick to adopt open source cloud-based technologies to advance their own innovations. RedHat’s Codeready Workspaces, SAP’s Business Application Studio, and Broadcom’s Che4Z (all based on Eclipse open source projects) are just a few examples. Open source cloud-based tools are revitalizing domains like Java and mainframe development and will continue to do so for other domains. Strong interest is being seen in domains such as embedded, modeling / diagramming, and workspace management, just to name a few.

In October, technologists working on cutting edge features and infrastructure gathered together at the IDE Summit. The goal was to start tackling some of the technical challenges that exist today and start to utilize some new technologies to make IDE tooling even more powerful. In the ECD Tools Working Group, we are in a privileged position to not only observe what is happening in this industry, but to also actively participate and shape future outcomes. Here are our top three predictions for 2021.

2021 will serve as the “tipping point” for cloud-based software development

A wholesale move to the cloud driven by the era of COVID-19 and remote work, combined with the increased adoption of cloud-based tools like Eclipse Theia and upcoming release of Github Codespaces, accelerates the trend towards cloud-based development tools. Traditional tools will have a long tail, but the point of no return has been reached. No one is going back to premise-based solutions.

Enterprise DevOps Teams will adopt a hybrid environment, with a mix of open source and proprietary solutions 

Historically, companies have been “all in” on either proprietary solutions or, not wanting to be locked in, they build their own and use open source solutions. While there are options to satisfy both those approaches, a trend we have been noticing more is a hybrid of both. For enterprises part of it is explained by being where the momentum is, and part by wanting to get the right tools to their developers in the right place at the right time. A great example is the extension ecosystem, where VS Code extensions can now be used in not only VS Code, but in multiple products that support the Open VSX Registry. Open source innovation allows teams to pick and choose what works best for their specific needs.

Cloud development tools will breathe new life into “legacy” domains 

Cloud development tools will continue to drive a renewed interest in extending the life of infrastructure running older architectures such as mainframes running COBOL and other languages. Many teams are using cloud-based tools to train a younger generation of developers to maintain, and build on, this installed base. Even ubiquitous languages like Java are making a big comeback because of cloud tools.