The open source decade, fed by cloud and GitHub

Comment: The past decade was by far the most productive in open source. Discover why Matt Asay considers it a Cambric explosion of choice and innovation.

Image: uriz, Getty Images / iStockphoto

If the 2000s were the years in which open source fought to survive with old-fashioned hegemony, the 2010s was the decade in which open source “won” and began to stimulate most modern technological innovation. From cloud to mobile to big data to data science, open source has been the core of this and other mega trends since 2010 and as such has encouraged contributions from even the most steadfast enemies.

In that regard, let’s look at the most important open source stories of the past decade, starting with the place where many (though not all) open source lives: GitHub.

SEE: More from our Decade in Review series (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

In the beginning it was the pull request

“GitHub has changed everything . Nothing else (comes) close (in importance),” said Andrew Shafer of Red Hat. Git has of course been with us since 2005, but GitHub, founded in 2008, has made Git usable for the masses. Git was not the first version management system and GitHub was not the first place where open source code was stored (remember SourceForge, Google Code, etc.?), But GitHub steamed them all.

The secret of Git (Hub)? People.

As Cloud CMS founder, Michael Uzquiano, stressed: “(T) he facility of pull requests through systems such as GitHub . has truly delivered on the promise of open code.” Buried in Uzquiano’s remark is the interest of the person on the other side of that pull request. David Brimley of Hazelcast goes one step further and claims that “fully integrated tooling such as wikis, promotions, CI / GitLab” has enabled distributed open source teams to grow. In other words, version management, however important it was, lacked the social aspect that GitHub offered. Open source became open collaboration, and that made the difference.

It is therefore not surprising that the developers world caught their breath when Microsoft announced in mid-2018 that it had bought GitHub for $ 7.5 billion. Such a deal would have been unthinkable in 2008. Microsoft, for example, had still not been wearing its shirt for years to call Linux a “cancer” and open source “un-American.” At the end of 2009 I wrote on sister site CNET: “(Steve) Ballmer must learn to speak with developers or risk ruining the house that (Bill) Gates built.” Microsoft probably seemed to spend the next 10 years just like its last time: fighting open source risk.

Instead it has changed. Almost fully.

From open source zero to open source hero, Microsoft has become the world’s largest open source contributor (measured in terms of employees who actively contribute to open source projects on GitHub). In part, this meant a change in CEO where Satya Nadella was more developer-friendly than his predecessor, but much of it was simply self-interest: Microsoft was a developer-focused platform company. If it wanted to remain a ‘going concern’, it had to deal with what developers wanted.

And they wanted open source. Oh, and cloud.

Rages against the machine

Cloud supports almost every open source trend of the past 10 years. (revelation: I have been working for AWS since August 2019.) Without cloud there would be no GitHub, no modern CI / CD toolchains that have done so much to promote open source development, no dramatic increase in containers, etc. Just as open source gave developers an easy path to exceptional software without detours via Purchasing or Legal, so that cloud developers have also enabled the hardware to open relatively little hardware needed to run open source software without waiting for IT to run servers to provide.

Cloud, in short, completes open source in ways that Tim O’Reilly had foreseen in 2008. It has made the Cambric explosion of innovation in open source possible in the last decade.

SEE: The most important cloud progress of the decade (TechRepublic)

Indeed, it was the cloud that really fueled the accelerated rise of open source, even as open source gave rise to cloud. Yet one of the greatest stories of the decade was the sometimes uncomfortable alliance between cloud and open source. As I wrote in 2018, commercial open source vendors tried to block cloud vendors from spreading their open source code, experimenting with a number of license changes, even if they tell their investors (see here and here): “We have not seen cloud competition ) has a real influence on all our statistics, when it comes to downloads, community acceptance or . our sales numbers. “When leaving the decade there are vague signs of a thaw.

Against this background of cloud as infrastructure andabit and GitHub as locus for development, so many great things have happened to open source since 2010.

A Cambrian explosion of open source pleasure

As important as the development of the back-end infrastructure (eg Docker revolutionized the development of applications via containers, but ultimately the company did not benefit from it), the development of front-end for mobile and web exploded. Within the enterprise set, we may want to fix on Kubernetes and containers, but open source front-end development technologies such as Angular and React are affecting many more developers, as Ian Massingham of AWS has noted:

  • Kubernetes: 60.2K stars (43.6K repos in search term)

  • vue: 152K stars (324K repos)

  • Reply: 140K stars (1M + repos)

  • Node.js: 65.8K stars (746K repos)

  • angular: 54.3K stars (672K repos)

Perhaps ironically, one of the most important stories here is how much a “brutal, wild space” JavaScript framework has remained throughout the decade, as Diffblue CEO Mathew Lodge suggested. Whenever React or Angular or something else seemed to claim the highest honor, a new JavaScript framework was created to challenge it. At the same time, every new framework or programming language had to become open source or fail. Even Apple, who sometimes shunned open source, eventually decided to publish his Swift language as open source.

SEE: Java and JavaScript dominated software development in the years 2010 (TechRepublic)

The same applies to the exploding world of data infrastructure. Apache Hadoop was completely overjoyed and then made way for Apache Spark, who made way for . the list goes on. The pace of innovation in data science is indeed so pronounced that it has become almost meaningless to learn how to pronounce the names of new open source data infrastructure projects because they are famous for 15 minutes. RedMonk analyst James Governor argued that we were entering the polyglot era of software development, and the decade confirmed that picture with every spin.

Completion of the polyglot era

Especially databases. While the world spent decades storing data in (mostly) relational databases (RDBMS), developed by some corporate IT suppliers, the launch of MongoDB at the end of 2009 led to significant changes in the way developers view their database options . Instead of relying on the RDBMS to manage more and more big data, with its unprecedented variety, volume and speed, developers embraced a series of so-called (and almost fully open source) NoSQL databases, including document databases, key-value stores , graphic databases, time series databases and more.

SEE: How to build a successful career for developers (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

While developers shouted in this smorgasbord of choice, RDBMS PostgreSQL started its own revival. PostgreSQL has never achieved the status of its open source brother, MySQL, but over the course of the decade, PostgreSQL became the fourth most popular database, according to DB-Engines. PostgreSQL has become hot in the last decade, but remains the unsung hero of data.

That is a good place to end. Most of the most popular open source technologies of the decade, and the stories that came with it, were all about change. PostgreSQL, on the other hand, demonstrates one of the other wonderful things about open source: how projects can evolve to meet new use cases. Linux has demonstrated this with operating systems and PostgreSQL does the same in databases. From 2010 to 2020, the explosion of new open source choices is astonishing, but the persistence of PostgreSQL is reassuring and reminds us that open source can be what we need.

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