Why the future of IT transformation is open source

More organisations and businesses adopting open source to support their IT transformation goals

For many organisations, undergoing IT transformation means re-investigating and overhauling existing information technology to support various new technological aspects of the organisation such as digital transformation and changes in IT infrastructure. Today, open source technologies are providing viable, cost efficient and leading-edge solutions, with more organisations and businesses adopting open source to support their IT transformation goals.

According to Gartner, by 2022, more than 70 percent of new in-house applications will be developed on an open source database management system, and 50 percent of existing commercial relational database management system instances will have been converted or will be in the process of converting. 

This is just one example of where proprietary software is being replaced with open source alternatives as it provides greater levels of innovation and adaptability as well as reduced risk and cost associated with vendor lock-in.

Why SDI is core to IT transformation

The use of software defined infrastructure (SDI) is a key to resolving the many challenges IT organisations encounter as a result of IT transformation. Software defined infrastructure supports the ability of an organisation to maintain flexible platforms for their increasingly-agile application environments, without incurring the delays or silos of traditional IT infrastructure. 

SDI is an important basis for the design of cloud-native applications, enabling the seamless deployment of workloads to a hybrid combination of public and private cloud environments. The automation, self-service, and auto-scaling capabilities that are inherent to SDI helps IT organisations respond to the needs of the business in hours (or minutes), rather than weeks (or months) and with less chance of the errors caused by manual intervention.

By modernising the data centre with a software-defined infrastructure, IT can better manage growing data and enable faster time-to-market with agility, stability, and cost savings; ultimately improving the organisation’s ability to respond to customer needs and gain a competitive advantage.

Research by SUSE found that 95 percent of IT leaders believe SDI is the future for the data centre. Businesses that are focused on the future of their organisations and transformation strategies

will need to address a multifaceted IT world which encompasses traditional data centres, SDI and cloud environments.

The strongest developments in SDI are found in the open-source arena.  Commercial businesses, research organisations, and end users are seeing the benefit in collaborating in open source projects like OpenStack, Ceph, and Cloud Foundry, to both standardise solutions and provide input into the functionality they need.

Growing adoption of Container-as-a-Service

IT transformation has changed the way organisations build and deliver applications just to stay ahead of the curve, with one notable new technology being the delivery of applications as “containers”.

Container technology, while not new, is gaining traction, with leading companies such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft building it into the framework of their public cloud offerings, and an increasing number of software companies shipping their applications as containers.

While the most recent iteration of containers has been driven mostly by development teams looking to simplify the packaging and deployment of individual applications, there is an increasing need in IT operations environment to be able to manage these deployments securely and effectively.  The server and VM sprawl have led to the increasing number of containerised applications running in production – potentially in the hundreds or thousands – resulting in a coordination, management and security headache.

A container-as-a-service (CaaS) platform provides a solution for this operational headache, whilst also providing developers with the flexibility and speed-of-access they require to meet business demands, improve application lifecycles, and optimise costs across an organisation

An effective enterprise CaaS platform should include a tuned base operating system that allows for zero-downtime updating and patching as well as management tools to coordinate containers across several server systems, an orchestration system to handle the deployment of multiple containers that may make up a single application, and a secure private registry that allows developers to share containers whilst maintaining a verified codebase that does not require access to the open internet.

Container technology is increasingly important as an enabler of rapid application delivery and scaling to meet customer demand, and so an effective CaaS strategy is necessary for any organisation looking to manage “container sprawl” and provide a secure environment for developers.  Even more than other aspects of software defined infrastructure, the container management space is being led by open source development.

So wherever your organisation might be in its IT transformation journey, the adoption of open source – in tandem with an enterprise open source partner – should be on the cards to stay in touch with the latest innovations and remain relevant, resilient, and competitive into the future.

Peter Lees is chief technologist at SUSE Asia Pacific.

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