If you’re reading this from Firefox or even while using a Linux operating system, then you’re benefitting from open source software. It’s likely that you use open source tools every day without even realizing it. From the SMS you receive from your bank to the WordPress site you’re building, it has come a long way and is gaining momentum year-on-year. That’s why, in collaboration with researchers from academia, industry, and the community, GitHub does an annual survey to gather data on open source software development practices and communities. The results of the 2017 survey show the attitudes, experiences, and backgrounds of those who use, build, and maintain open source software. It’s an important assessment of a major concept in our ever-technical world.

Because of the scope, there’s obviously a great deal of data to mine. So it’s likely that results will be staggered. Some of the results that have been released are less than encouraging. Issues that have continuously plagued the tech world persist: harassment and gender diversity, for example, are present, if not exaggerated.

Positive results from the survey

But there were some very positive results as well. Open source software is more widely accepted and growing in pervasiveness in businesses. Lou Shipley, CEO of Black Duck Software, said this on the subject, “When the first survey was launched 11 years ago, hardly anyone would’ve predicted that open source use would be ubiquitous a little over a decade later. But it’s happened. And for many good reasons. Its value in reducing development costs, in freeing up senior developers to work on higher-order tasks, and in accelerating time to market is undeniable.”

Here are some more key insights from the 2017  Open source survey:

It's the architecture to build with. It is the foundation now for applications, operating systems, cloud computing, databases, big data, and more. Open source development has gone from the exception to the rule. In the area of technologies, tools and processes, continuous integration, deployment, open source has made huge contributions and revamped how software is delivered.

Source IS the Engine of Innovation. Open source is driving business because it facilitates faster, more agile development. This translates into quicker builds, accelerates time to market and vastly superior interoperability. It also supports every developer’s right to have an idea and build it in a way that’s free from the restrictions of the traditional software industry.

There is a new generation of companies and business models emerging. It is suggested that in the next two or three years, the business models that will generate the most revenue for open source vendors are SaaS (46%); Custom development (42%) and services/support (41%). Relative to previous years, we are not as dependent on SaaS and services/support.

Challenges remain: Security and management practices have not kept pace with rapid adoption. In the wake of high-profile breaches, there is likely to be more emphasis on security.

Participation and contribution will secure the future of open source. Investing in the open source community spurs innovation, delivers exponential value and most of all, it’s fun. It continues to grow as a key hiring and retention tool in IT shops of enterprises, governments, and startups alike.

These trends speak to the coming of age for open source software. Society’s mindset and caution against sharing information have done a complete 180 since open source first entered the scene. As the New York Times suggests, “In 2000, the open source operating system Linux was viewed by many businesses as an oddball creation and even legally risky to use. The collective corporate tune has changed. These days where free, collaborative software projects were once flags flown by indie developers bucking the corporate trend, today some of the largest corporates in the world are releasing their own open source tools.”

 

If you’d like to learn more about other technology trends and how they’re bound to change the way we live, work and socialize, read our latest article. It touches on the Internet of Things and how that’s making waves.

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