Open source has never been stronger

Posted on 08-08-2019 , by: admin , in , 0 Comments

There has perhaps never been so much angst over whether open source software development is sustainable, and yet there has never been clearer evidence that we’re in the golden age of open source. Or on the cusp. Here and there an open source company might struggle to make a buck, but as a community of communities, open source has never been healthier. There are a few good indicators for this.

The clouds have parted

The first is that the clouds—yes, all of them—are open sourcing essential building blocks that expose their operations. Google rightly gets credit for moving first on this with projects like Kubernetes and TensorFlow, but the others have followed suit. For example, Microsoft Azure released Azure Functions, which “extends the existing Azure application platform with capabilities to implement code triggered by events occurring in virtually any Azure or third-party service as well as on-premises systems.”

Azure Functions is a significant open source release, so much so that CNCF executive director Dan Kohn initially assumed that the Azure Functions “SDK is open source, but I don’t think the underlying functions are.” In other words, Kohn assumed the on-ramp to Azure was open source, but not the code that could enable a developer to run serverless setup on bare metal. That assumption, however, was wrong, and Kohn corrected himself: “This is open source and can be run on any environment (including bare metal).”

Boom.

More recently, AWS released Firecracker, a lightweight, open source virtualization technology for running multi-tenant container workloads that emerged from AWS’ serverless products (Lambda and Fargate). In a textbook example of how open source is supposed to work, Firecracker was derived from the Google-spawned crosvm but then spawned its own upgrade in the form of Weave Ignite, which made Firecracker much easier to manage.

These are just a few examples of the interesting open source projects emerging from the public clouds. (Across the ocean, Alibaba has been open sourcing its chip architecture, among other things.) More remains to be done, but these offer hope that the public clouds come not to bury open source, but rather to raise it.