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IBM 2020 Predictions: Open source pushes tech boundaries

VMblog Predictions 2020 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2020.  Read them in this 12th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

By Chris Ferris, Chief Technology Officer, Open Technology, IBM

Open source pushes tech boundaries

When I look back to where technology was in 2010, it's astounding to think about how much has changed - and how so many of those advancements were fueled by open source.

Ten years ago, AI was not a part of our everyday lives, most developers hadn't even heard of containers or microservices, blockchain was little more than an idea, and serverless was a far-off dream. Now these technologies, built on open source projects and the communities that surround them, are shaping how developers do their jobs and how people interact with technology on a daily basis.

In this blog post, I talk about some of the trends that we expect to see over the next decade, helped along by open source.

Smaller, faster containers and microservices

In the next decade, we anticipate that open source projects such as Istio, Kubernetes, and OKD will focus on making containers and microservices smaller and faster to serve the needs of cloud-native development and to reduce the container's attack surface.

Keep an eye on unikernels (executable images that contain system libraries, a language runtime, and necessary applications), which may also gain traction thanks to the open source communities around them.

Instantaneous serverless workloads

We expect to see open source serverless projects like Apache OpenWhisk and Knative continue to push the boundaries of how to make serverless platforms faster until we can spin up serverless workloads instantaneously. Given the energy and innovation around serverless open source projects, it will likely be before the next decade. Once we have that, where does that let us go from an app dev perspective? Will serverless be everywhere?

Trustworthy artificial intelligence

As AI proliferates every aspect of our lives, the need to building trust into AI systems will grow. Specifically, developers will work to ensuring that AI systems make decisions in a fair manner, aren't vulnerable to tampering, and can be explained. Open source is the key for building this trust into AI.  We expect to see projects related to trustworthiness in AI, like the AI Fairness 360 Open Source Toolkit and the ONNX project, drive the significant innovation related to trusted AI in the future.

New uses for blockchain's tracking capabilities

While blockchain's initial uses were confined to cryptocurrency, open source engagement around Hyperledger and Ethereum has expanded the possibilities for how this technology is used. The innovation is really just starting with blockchain and use cases for it's tracking capabilities are endless. Innovation around privacy, including zero-knowledge proofs and quantum-resistant cryptographic algorithms will launch even more innovation - and nearly all of this is being done in open source.

Quantum processors for developers

We're sure you've heard about the promise of quantum computing - and the buzz about what they could be capable of in the coming years. And while an app with a "quantum advantage" hasn't been developed yet, the ability for developers to start using quantum processors is growing-and will continue to evolve in the next decade, thanks to open source quantum projects. Today, IBM's open source Qiskit software enables developers to code in Python on real quantum hardware.

Looking forward

The trends of the past decade-the rise of containers, microservices, and serverless, the ubiquity of AI in our lives, the new uses for blockchain and quantum — were all driven by open source and the power of open source communities.

These advancements excite me because they highlight just how fast developers working together can change entire industries. Developers have the power to change the world, and open source is the best mechanism with which to bring about that change.

So, how are you going to get involved? Find a project where you can add value and figure out how to contribute. There's no telling how your contributions will shape the next decade.

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About the Author

Chris Ferris 

An IBM Fellow and CTO Open Technology for IBM, Christopher has been involved in the architecture, design, and engineering of distributed systems for most of his 37+ year career in IT and has been actively engaged in open standards and open source development since 1999. He has technical responsibility for all of IBM's strategic open source and standards initiatives, including OpenStack, Cloud Foundry, Hyperledger, Open Container Initiative, Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Node.js and Docker. He is a Maintainer of the Hyperledger Fabric project and member and former chair of the Hyperledger Technical Steering Committee.

Published Friday, December 20, 2019 7:10 AM by David Marshall
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