The subject of predicting the future reminds me of a quote from the late comedian, George Burns: “I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life,” which is a great quote to justify our curiosity for the future. Combined that with an expanding open source software space, it results in plenty of ways to talk about predictions.
Open source software is pervasive across all industry verticals, and today, more companies use and develop software than ever before. I consider all companies now “software companies.” The pandemic has also accelerated digitalization, and more businesses have added software to provide their products and services via a website or an app. Open source software is in all software development, and we don’t need a crystal ball to predict that in 2022, we’ll see even more growth in open source software.
A common theme for next year is not only the growth of open source technologies but also the incremental awareness that we will see across industries. Awareness will fuel the open source use and expansion; therefore, 2022 will be the year of awareness and growth.
Without further ado, here are my top open source software predictions for 2022:
Demand for open source skills is going from hot to hotter
The demand for full stack developers will continue to grow because of an increase in popular open source options, as well as the variety of stacks used in software development, operations, and data science. Experience in cloud environments and DevOps tooling will continue to be in high demand, just like demand for Kubernetes, Python, PyTorch, and open source data technologies. Experienced professionals will have plenty of opportunities to change jobs and poaching of experts in open source technologies will increase, just as expected compensation. To see evidence that hiring people with the right open source skills is already a challenge, check the 9th Annual report on critical skills, hiring trends, and education by the Linux Foundation.
Greater awareness of open source security and prevention of supply chain attacks
More CEOs and IT executives will realize how much open source is used in their organizations, and that realization will have a positive impact on security budgets. Greater awareness of the thousands of open source libraries used in all software development will result in an increased use of tools to scan for vulnerabilities in open source software. Organizations with more open source security awareness will keep up with the latest open source software versions and patches, improving their overall security posture. Software supply chain attacks occur when threat actors infiltrate third-party software to gain access via an unpatched open source vulnerability or inject malicious software. Thanks to awareness and tooling, in 2022 we’ll see an improvement in prevention and the growth of open source tools, such as digital signing service to prevent supply chain attacks.
Widespread adoption of containers and Kubernetes
Continuing with the theme of awareness, we’ll see increased adoption of standards for container format and runtime. This adoption will allow for expanded use of compatible open source container formats from the likes of Docker and Podman under the same standards as those described in the Open Container Initiative. Unlike other open source technologies that developer teams have adopted, the case of the orchestration of containers via Kubernetes is adopted by IT Operations teams. A similar transition from bare metal to virtual machines (VMs), which took place over the last couple of decades is now being repeated with the use of containers and Kubernetes as well as completing the stack with Kubernetes operators. Despite the learning curve and technical support required, the most successful open source project in recent times, Kubernetes, is poised to reach new adoption highs in 2022.
Time for awareness and implementation of ethical AI
Open source software for artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), deep learning (DL), and data technologies are reaching mass adoption. 2022 will see AI open source tooling become increasingly available, including the intersection with containers in growing projects such as Kubeflow. The prediction for 2022 is a significant growth in terms of awareness and implementation of ethical AI. Open source tools for ML/DL algorithms to keep them interpretable, explainable, and fair is the ultimate goal. Tools like AI Fairness 360, Fairlearn, and Aequitas ease technical challenges in fighting AI bias. Tools such as AI Explainability 360 and Iml allow data scientists to interrogate their models, and security with the likes of Adversarial Robustness 360 toolbox prevents adversarial threats of evasion, poisoning, extraction and inference. The incremental use of these open source tools will go a long way in improving and increasing trust in AI applications.
InnerSource will no longer be a secret
More InnerSource projects wait on the horizon — and not only for technology companies. The prediction includes financial institutions, public sector, research centers, and many more. The use of open source software development best practices and the establishment of open source-like culture behind closed doors in non-open source software will continue to expand. As a first step before open-sourcing projects or just as the latest best practices, organizations will continue to see the benefits of open collaboration, contributions, and velocity. InnerSource will also increase the use of open source software and with it, the need for expert advice and support across more open source packages.
Positive advancement in diversity and inclusion
Open source software has always been at the forefront of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Being open with freedom has been part of the open source fabric for over 30 years. The open source communities and foundations have risen to the challenge of reflecting the social changes in our society into their projects. In 2022, we’ll see the advancement of and direct results from large number of diversity and inclusion initiatives. A few examples of these initiatives from open source communities include GitHub Diversity, the Open Source Diversity, Opensource.com, TODO group, The Linux Foundation SDDI, IBM’s Call for Code, Apache Diversity, and many more. Proactively encouraging diversity and inviting and bringing in more diverse people will only improve open source technology and speed up innovation in years to come.
And while we are on the topic of awareness in 2022, let’s wish everyone more awareness in other important topics outside open source software; more mental health awareness, more self-awareness and of course, more personal development. A toast for that, and for a healthy and successful 2022.