Open Source: 20 years of Innovation and the Best is Yet to Come

Open Source: 20 years of Innovation and the Best is Yet to Come

  • Stephanie Yanaga
    Stephanie Yanaga is a Product Marketing Manager focusing on Talend’s free and open source products. In this role, Stephanie will be involved in the open source product strategy and will also work to ensure the Talend open source community has the resources needed to continue to thrive. Prior to joining the product marketing group in January 2018, Stephanie spent two years in Australia building out Talend’s APAC presence.

In 1998, Netscape decided to release their source code in an effort to attract new users to their product and new developers who could easily integrate applications with the browser. 

At the same time, there seemed to be a groundswell around a culture of open and collaborative development, with legacy software companies beginning to acknowledge Linux and open source software (OSS) as a legitimate option for enterprise solutions. Spurred by the changing software landscape and release of Netscape’s code, a group of influencers in the internet software community, including Tim O’Reilly (CEO of O’Reilly & Associates) and Linus Torvalds (creator of Linux), gathered to strategize the best way to start evangelizing the benefits of OSS to software and innovative power of being a part of a global community to advance and optimize source code. During this meeting of the minds, Christine Peterson, an American nanotechnologistfuturist, and co-founder of Foresight Institute, coined the term 'Open Source’ for this special breed of ‘community developed software’, which was quickly adopted and the movement took off from there.

Open Source: From Disbelief to Dominance

Open source was initially met with skepticism by companies who questioned whether the quality of this software could be trusted for enterprise-scale functions. However, as time went on, it became evident that the collaborative nature of open source development led to more flexible and innovative software that was often more secure than many of its proprietary counterparts. Why was this the case, you might ask? When comparing a software package created by a handful of developers to a software package created by thousands of developers, it’s fairly obvious that the latter gets closest to what the larger community of users want because those users can have a hand in making it. Additionally, when it comes to security, bugs in open source software tend to get fixed immediately, in contrast to proprietary software, which can often take a vendor several weeks, if not months, to even identify a security defect, let alone develop a FIX or patch for it.

Twenty years after the birth of open source, we have seen the power of a global developer community coming together to make open source the norm. Linux­—which was once a primary competitor Microsoft— has become so predominant that Microsoft has even started using Linux in their cloud offering Azure. Similarly, open source solutions like Git have become a leading solution for version control software, and big data processing frameworks like Spark and Hadoop have permeated the world’s top enterprises.     

Talend’s Commitment to the Community

As an enterprise company that has an open core history, Talend has been a proponent and active participant in the open source movement since 2006 when it launched its first open source project: Talend Open Studio for Data Integration. At the time, Talend had taken a bet on open source and—according to company co-founder,  Bertrand Diard— was one of the only companies that “aligned themselves] with open source” and leveraged a “distributed rather than centralized architecture.” Over the years, Talend became more involved in the open source community by releasing additional open source projects and dedicating a team of engineers to drive development in the Apache community in 2010.

The benefits of open source are not only limited to technology companies, but also to end-user, mainstream enterprises and non-profit organizations. For example,  the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), utilized Talend’s open source technologies to move data from more than 3 million documents into the databases and tools that gave journalists the insights needed to publish the Panama Papers. Big companies like Spotify have also been active in the open source community using (and contributing to) projects like Beam to build the data architecture needed for “music recommendation, ads targeting, AB testing, behavioral analysis, and business metrics.”  

What’s Next: Top 4 Open Source Projects to Watch in 2018

Open source projects continue to deliver disruptive technology capabilities across every sector. Apache Beam, whose name is a combination of Batch and strEAM, is a framework that abstracts a developer from the processing frameworks they may want to utilize. This allows a developer to build a single pipeline that can easily switch between different streaming and batch processing engines. As new processing technologies become available, a Beam developer does not need to learn new languages. Instead, they would just need to choose the new technology as the preferred processing engine for their pipeline.

TensorFlow, an open source library for machine intelligence, is also making waves in the data world. Originally developed for deep learning, TensorFlow has grown into a flexible interface that can run training and inference algorithms on processors as small as mobile phones or it can leverage a distributed computing environment with hundreds of machines. Its versatility is also evident from the variety of use cases that TensorFlow has addressed. Companies have used TensorFlow to implement machine learning in verticals ranging from robotics, speech recognition, and computational drug discovery.

Last, Docker and Kubernetes are changing the way applications are built and deployed. Docker allows engineers to isolate different applications into different containers that run independently of each other without having to worry about other applications’ libraries, configurations, and lifecycles. Kubernetes is used to deploy, manage and orchestrate the containers. As a result, DevOps teams do not need to worry about app incompatibilities, and which allows for faster deployment and faster innovation.

In summary, one of the best things about open source is that it democratizes innovation. It allows for companies both big and small to utilize and contribute to the most cutting-edge technologies. Seeing these benefits first-hand, we are especially happy to celebrate the 20th anniversary of open source, and we can’t wait to see what great innovations the open source community (ourselves included) create next.  

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