DCN November 2016 - Page 35

Linux service isn’t unimaginable without Linux (think of the early ISPs in the 90s), the scale and price structure of an AWS would be hard to replicate. Meanwhile Google would look very different without Linux (its cloud and data centres would likely be far less scalable due to the cost of UNIX hardware alone) and the other open source technologies that power the company’s underlying infrastructure. The phenomenon du jour in the data centre today is Linux containers, which provide a way of packaging applications with only their necessary operating components, simplifying development, maintenance and management of these applications at scale. As the name might imply, they use the standardised components of Linux itself to provide their benefits, namely namespaces and cgroups, both foundational pieces of the Linux kernel. From Linux containers, we have seen even more innovation emerge, from the Docker project (container development) to Kubernetes (container orchestration), creating an emerging market for applications and tools that can create and manage simple, isolated processes at a scale that matters to the enterprise. Linux has also impacted hardware evolution. Beyond providing a standardised platform for commodity hardware like x86 by splitting the application and hardware, Linux has also paved the way for new hardware approaches, like ARM and system on chip (SoC). This common base for computing has enabled enterprise IT to grow, emphasising innovation instead of simply keeping the lights on with expensive maintenance and exorbitant licensing fees. Overall, Linux driving open source has led to much greater technology transparency and accountability. Without it, we’d likely still see the enterprise data centre as a brickwalled silo, with little to no insight into the broader business. Instead, IT is now far more transparent to the enterprise, helping to better align with business goals and proactively innovate rather than pedal hard to maintain a status quo. What’s next for Linux? Thanks to the operating system’s flexibility and scalability and the community’s constant drive to directly match and solve software challenges, Linux has enabled major IT innovations and helped make open source practically ubiquitous across the tools and services that enterprises use every day. But with the rise of IoT and cloud computing, further hardware advances will be required and the enterprise will face new IT challenges. The Linux community will have to continue adapting, as it has done for 25 years, to meet users’ needs as well as help identify ‘what’s next’. The next 25 years of the Linux project will be defined by how Linux collaborates not just within itself but outside of the project boundaries. Linux needs to continue to bridge divides between other communities, like OpenStack or the various platform-as-a-service projects, to ensure the continued survival of open source as we know it. Many of today’s disruptive areas of innovation in cloud, devops and data analytics have very tight dependencies on Linux evolution – Linux has never been more influential and core to broader technology innovation. Much challenging work lies ahead and that will require the power of community to succeed.