For some reason, the tradition amongst most technology pundits is to spend the waning weeks and days of the past year making prognostications about what’s to come. I’m all for introspection, but making guesses right before the holidays usually means I’m going to forget what I said (wrote?) after my holiday break. Besides, I’d much rather focus on beginnings than endings. That’s why I’m opening the new year here at the Eclipse Foundation with some thoughts on what’s to come for open source software in general, but also specific insights into the technology segments the Eclipse community is focused on: enterprise Java, the IoT and Edge computing, developer tooling, and automotive design.
Let’s start with a very general prediction, but a critically important one: the open source model for collaborative innovations will continue its growth, particularly with enterprises and industrials. Open source is already the dominant model for collaboration amongst companies in the IT and software technology sectors. But it is quickly becoming mainstream among every company working on a digitalization strategy. The pace of innovation and level of collaboration enabled by the open source model simply cannot be matched.
Many European companies have largely missed out on this value to date. In order to create the new platforms necessary for future prosperity, both governments and industry need to become software-centric and master the process of innovating and contributing via the open source model. You’re going to see a lot of that in 2021, particularly as we shift our own legal headquarters to Brussels early this year.
Now, let’s get a little bit more specific …
Cloud Native Java Predictions
The Java EE ecosystem will switch to Jakarta EE
With the release of Jakarta EE 9 on December 8 of last year, the enterprise Java ecosystem will move to the new jakarta.* namespace. It will be gradual at first, but much of the industry will come around surprisingly quickly. We are already seeing rapid adoption of the new jakarta namespace by the vast ecosystem of open source projects built on Jakarta EE specifications.
Now the focus is on innovation, and the pace of development for Jakarta EE will speed up with the community focusing on delivering both Jakarta EE 9.1 and 10 releases. In addition, the successful transition to the jakarta.* namespace cracks open the door on further integrating Jakarta EE with the world of microservices and containers. The community is already working on increasing the alignment of MicroProfile and Jakarta EE to meet this challenge.
The inexorable rise of community-supported Java binaries will continue
With the move of AdoptOpenJDK to the Eclipse Foundation and its birth as Eclipse Adoptium, the industry will have a single, vendor-neutral source of high-quality open source Java runtimes. Expect to see adoption accelerate as developers use the project’s high quality binaries and technologies across the Java ecosystem.
2021 will serve as the “tipping point” for cloud-based development tools
A wholesale move to the cloud driven by the era of COVID-19 and remote work, combined with the release of new cloud-based tools like Eclipse Theia, Eclipse Che, and Github Codespaces, accelerates the trend towards cloud-based development tools Traditional desktop tools will have a long tail, but the proverbial tipping point has been reached.
IoT and Edge Computing Predictions
As Edge Computing architectures and the Internet of Things (IoT) continue to proliferate throughout multiple vertical markets, one trend that enterprises have made abundantly clear is that, in 2021, they expect many edge computing solutions and IoT technologies to leverage open source. This was confirmed in the most recent Eclipse IoT Commercial Adoption survey published in March 2020, which found that 60% of the organizations surveyed are factoring open source into their deployment plans.
One guiding factor to these trends is that businesses want to tailor information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) builds to meet their specific requirements while avoiding vendor lock-in. This is best accomplished with solutions based on an open source model. In other words: while businesses certainly appreciate the cost and time savings open source offers, what they truly need is the control and flexibility it affords.
Open source will help solve SCADA software interoperability
This prediction is a bit specific to the Industrial IoT (IIoT), but given the size of this market, everyone from Chevron to Intel are carefully building solutions based on open source to address this issue. While SCADA providers have fully embraced IoT as a concept, sector growth has been limited by lack of interoperability between proprietary systems. Open source IoT solutions, such as Sparkplug, will enable new innovations that finally allow for true widespread interoperability.
2021 will mark the rise of the Hybrid Edge
Hybrid cloud was definitely one of the biggest buzzwords of 2020, but in 2021, we believe this concept will be applied to edge computing architectures. Just as hybrid cloud requires orchestration between public, private, and distributed compute architectures, so too will enterprises that may be deploying their own edge networks, using edge compute offerings from a cloud provider, and operating separate edge networks for different use cases (AI vs. IoT for example). What is needed to fulfill this vision is an open source platform for Edge computing that the industry can rally around.
Cloud providers will embrace open source edge computing
Late 2020 saw all three major cloud providers – AWS, Azure, and GCP – deliver their own edge offerings. We believe 2021 will not only see a continuation of this trend, but also see providers embrace open source edge solutions as a means of differentiation and to speed innovation within their own development efforts.
For organizations looking to leverage both edge computing and IoT, they need to carefully evaluate their strategies and the open source alternatives that will enable their software-defined initiatives to thrive. By doing so, they will enable not just near-term efficiency, but lay a foundation upon which future innovations can be built for years to come.
Automotive Software Predictions
Of all the market segments I’ve written about today, none have been as slow to adopt the open source model as the automotive industry. Open source is potentially a life saver for this industry given its many challenges.
Automakers will respond to the impact of the pandemic by accelerating their digital transformation.
By and large, OEMs in the global auto sector have recognized a deep need to move on from development models of a bygone era. The global economic impact of the pandemic is forcing their hand to quickly pivot to meet the needs of a new economy. They know this. What will change in 2021 is the realization that mastering the art of open source is a necessary step in their digital transformation.
OSS will serve as the primary catalyst in most automakers digital transformation.
We’re already seeing this shift begin in 2020. The traditional automakers are embracing open source to establish industry-scale collaboration on core frameworks, toolchains, and systems for interoperability, simulation, testing, validation, and certification. We expect to see accelerating OSS innovation in areas like AI for autonomous driving, with some companies contributing AI elements to the open ecosystem.
In 2021, the challenges of autonomous vehicle design will force the industry to turn to community-based collaboration in order to reach its full potential.
Currently, the majority of firms choose to perform their development completely in-house. 2021 will see some of these organizations become aware that they cannot do everything alone. We predict more partnerships and potentially some consolidation in the market as well. Firms will shift to a more collaborative approach that leverages the entire industry, with the OSS model serving as a mechanism to enable this transition.
And let’s not forget the best part about open source; you can participate in the process and help guide the outcome. The Eclipse Foundation is just one means to this end, but you want to find out more, visit here – https://www.eclipse.org/membership/#tab-membership
In the meantime, I’m looking forward to engaging with many of you as we all work to build more positive outcomes for 2021. Happy New Year everyone!