Technology is evolving at such a fast rate that when we started this study in 2008, we had no clue whether this Roadmap (see figure 1) for Free Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) until year 2020 and our predictions / recommendations (see table 1) would still be accurate some months later. Today we must admit that the trends we envisioned were quite accurate.
Figure 1: 2020 FLOSS Roadmap
Table 1: Predictions and Recommandations
Seven predictions for FLOSS in 2020
1: Global Digital Divide reduced thanks to FLOSS
2: FLOSS is now mainstream
3 : FLOSS Communities are enablers of Business Ecosystems
4: Cloud Computing is ubiquitous
5: The IT industry is the champion of eco-responsibility
6: FLOSS is a strategic tool for Enterprise IT 3.0, i.e. Open IT
7: 40% of jobs in IT are FLOSS related
1: Define a stable, clear and neutral legal context
2: Invest in FLOSS R&D for strategic technologies and services
3: Develop FLOSS education, skill and employment
4: Create Open Platforms based on Open Standards and Open Services
5: Establish Openness as a standard for Innovation and Business
6: Promote FLOSS adoption and usage
7: Encourage FLOSS users to contribute to FLOSS
8: Develop inter-actions between FLOSS Communities
From a technological point of view, 2020 Floss Roadmap is perfectly in sync with today's trends:
Strong adoption of FLOSS virtualization [VIRT] by Industry shows the maturity of the technologies
FLOSS alternatives for microblogging [BLOG] and for social networking [NET] enable to offer open platforms to micro social networks.
Plus Open Service Interfaces are flourishing [OKI] while an Open Service definition still needs to be unanimously adopted by Cloud Industry [OSSD].
Nevertheless we must also concede that everything is moving faster than we thought and in some months we would need to reevaluate more deeply our findings.
This is particularly true in the case of Cloud Computing. While offer is getting organized and specialized trade shows trade are flowering world wide [SHOWS], what is interesting to notice, is that for each proprietary solution we already find a FLOSS project proposing an alternative [CLOUD].
On the specific topic of the openness of Cloud Computing to which we largely contributed, the state of the art has also significantly evolved. And the debate is widely open and will need to mature before we can really see Open Clouds operating on a daily base. For instance Association Software Livre [ASL], a well respected FLOSS association in Brazil, is quoting Google as a key FLOSS player while this is highly discussed in Europe.
We can notice that the difference of positions on this topic are already quite well established these days: from R. Stallman who argues that “Cloud computing is 'stupidity'”[STALLMAN1] to FFII's Total Information Outsourcing [TIO] who recognize the interest but also the limits of Cloud Computing. The ideas of Open Standards and Open Services are also making progress and get well structured supporters with more or less clear agendas. Among these supporters, we can cite Open Knowledge Foundation [OKF], Open Cloud Manifesto [OCF], The Open Cloud Consortium [OCC].
Now due to the massive investments of major players such as Google, Yahoo, Amazon in huge Data Centers or server farms [GOOG], we may ask ourselves if there is still room for other smaller players or for alternative platforms?
While we note significant progress in adequacy with 2020 FLOSS Roadmap, we must also note that there are contradictory evolutions: the penetration of FLOSS continues but at the political level there are still blocking.
In spite of the recognition on behalf of the “intellectuals” such as the lobbyists from Open Source for America [OSA], the alliance between security and proprietary is reinforced and delayed evolution of lawful environments. FLOSS and Internet are clearly associated in people's mind, two visions are strongly opposed: Internet as a threat versus Internet as an opportunity. The tension between those two positions is high and may influence FLOSS penetration.
In general, public Industrial policies are not focusing on IT services (and even less on FLOSS) but on traditional industries (e.g. auto industry). Even if in Europe we find a declaration of intent from EC Viviane Redding [REDDING], we have not found any significant plan to invest in IT (vs. auto industry). Except in the USA where IT is accounting for $37bn of the $825bn in the stimulus package of Obama's recovery plan [OBAMA]. In the future it will be interesting to follow what Vivek Kundra, Obama's newly-appointed CIO [KUNDRA] will do concerning cloud computing, Google, open platforms and Open Source.
Here we would appreciate if Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, one of the most influential FLOSS advocate of the year [LULA], would explain to his G-20 colleagues why FLOSS is considered strategic for Brazil. He may have some chance to inspire most of them if not all.
Because FLOSS also sustains new ideas of societal nature, it should seriously be taken account into Public Policies. FLOSS enables two opposed terms to work in harmony: Technology and Solidarity. On these ideas, President Lula who speaks about FLOSS (and Internet) as key for Digital Inclusion, fully agrees with R. Stallman who describes Free Software as a social necessity [STALLMAN2].
During this year's debates two issues were raised by contributors and these new issues with their potential impact on FLOSS evolution will need to be explored in the coming months.
“Proprietary hardware favors closed source”. This statement highlights the fact that platforms such as Apple's IPhone for example which are both very popular and efficient for distributing applications, are also totally closed and proprietary. While standard platform such as x86 for computers facilitated the birth of Linux, BSD and all FLOSS running on these systems, can we envision similar expectations on a closed platform?
Data need to be considered as a key element in the efficiency of our Roadmap. Software is not only about programs and in most cases software includes data. And data if proprietary may create critical dead lock for FLOSS progression. This means that our vision about contents and copyright law may have to be revised due to Internet and new practices: Pirate Bay case has been exemplary on this point [PIRATE] and Google's Digital Library [LIBRARY] is at the over end of the spectrum. Maybe should we also be inspired by the culture of mix which is familiar in modern music (e.g. Djs who are considered as artists nowadays) and modern art (e.g. surrealist artists such Marcel Duchamp or Max Ernst who have made extensive use of collage which has never been considered as piracy).
Beyond the fact Global Crisis impacted most of activities in 2009, it was difficult to predict if this crisis was an opportunity or a threat. Answers to this question is mitigated according to the type of Business Model.
For Service based Business Model, in general large System Integrators (SI) are less impacted by crisis including on pricing than small specialized service vendors. Large SI works on functional business related software for their customers when more specialized and small service vendor provides expertise and have difficulties to have access to big deals. What is specific to FLOSS in this crisis is the fact that CIOs have clearly identified FLOSS as an opportunity to lower costs and to bargain on prices. But this is not the only issue. Activities being lower, large SI prioritize to internal training of their staff (vs. outsourcing expertise to small specialized vendors) and these resources by consequence acquire more expertise on topics which were domains of small FLOSS specialized vendors. Finally customer' staff is also gaining in expertise reducing the overall need of specialized consultants. All this represents clearly a risk of impoverishment and of competences for service vendors.
Concerning Software based Business Models i.e. Business where revenue is composed by subscriptions for 50-60% and by Services (including training, expertise, etc.) for 40-50%, here we can see significant growth. Jim Whitehurst, CEO, Red Hat explains "Budgets remain tight and we don't see an end in sight for this. In relative terms, this is pretty good for us." And the kind of growth shown by Red Hat's figures [RH] are confirmed by most Open Source vendors.
About Cloud Computing based Business Models based, Global Crisis accelerates the transfer of some applications on clouds (REFERENCES???) and we can report a large growth in hosting (REFERENCES???).
Finally concerning Public Sector, here progress are very diverse and may be discussed. Brazil, UK, Netherlands (REFERENCES???) are making notable progress. But in general the high overhead linked to public procurement policies and public bids, slow down the establishment of a structured and viable offer to be supplied by FLOSS vendors of different sizes. This may be due to a lack of understanding of the rationals of FLOSS.
FLOSS business models, sustainability of FLOSS are still questioned by a large number of people. For sure there is still room for improvement of communication about FLOSS qualities and potentials for Business and Society. But despite the extensive literature already existing, Information exist but Communication is not fully established. Is it due to reluctance to change or fear of change? Is it due to the opposition of speed of Information vs. slowness of communication? Despite the efficiency and speed of transmission, ideas have to be understood and this understanding shared by a majority of people [WOLTON].
It was interesting to measure the impact that the news of the acquisition of Sun by Oracle had on this area. This event is considered by most contributors as a major event for FLOSS and this includes a potential risk of redefinition of the landscape. While Sun was known as a strong sponsor of FLOSS, Oracle was not renown for this. What is the future of Sun's projects such as quid MySQL, Glassfish, Open Office, Netbeans, ...? The recent reaction of European Commission is significant on these aspects [SUN].
This acquisition in decreasing the number of significant Industry players, brought also the question about leadership in FLOSS Business. Is there an emerging leader i.e. a kind of SAP of FLOSS? While there is no doubt that Red Hat has demonstrated the viability of their business model, is Red Hat (with 2 500 employees and 4 Billion dollars value i.e. the amount of money Oracle put on the table to acquire Sun) powerful enough to be considered as leader in Industry?
In fact this question may be not relevant when it comes to FLOSS: FLOSS is not an industry, nor a business model but a process to develop software. Actually no one from Sun, Red Hat, Google, Ubuntu, Oracle or IBM will try to claim to be the leader or the largest FLOSS contributor when compared to the population of the thousands of FLOSS developers. And because they want to benefit from these dynamics, they contribute actively to projects of direct interest for them. The figures brought by the recent study on Linux development shows perfectly the quality of this co-development model [LINUX]. Even when you are writing hundreds lines of code yourself, what does it represent compared to millions developed by world wide contributors. This exemplifies the theory of “Dynamics of Open-Source Contributors” [DYN].
Another interesting evolution to observe is that while the number of significant IT players is decreasing, the number of FLOSS small and medium-size companies is exploding [CORP]. And this movement is clearly structured around technology communities and around business activities. This is also a clear and volunteer change from the typical “pure” FLOSS community of the first generation.
And this brings to the issue of difficulty to impose a “pure” Open Source model: FLOSS communities used to function on a non profit / non commercial mode but as soon as it comes to business, the model becomes inevitably hybrid (a mix of FLOSS and proprietary model from “freemium” to “Open Core” [HYBRID]). It may be due to the dual nature of “Open Source Vendor”: is “Open Source Vendor” an oxymoron?
Based on all these consideration, we consider it is now necessary to create a new paradigm which enables to handle and unify all these notions within a single, rich and simple image.
FLOSS is comparable to forests. Like forest and their canopies hosting rich biodiversity and diverse ecosystems, FLOSS diversity is complex and has multiple layers and branches both in term of technology and creation of wealth (see Forest Ecology and Forestry [FOREST])
FLOSS brings oxygen to Industry by adding dynamics and enabling innovative start-ups with new business models to exist. It generates new blood with a new generation of developers, with new organization schema (cf. Communities) implying new practices such as open collaboration and at large renewing the relationship between customers and suppliers, producers and consumers. Like the forest which enabled in human history both health and wealth, FLOSS participates to the transformation of society.
What is interesting with this analogy is that it takes into account the organic and self-organized aspects of FLOSS: FLOSS when in a favorable environment, grows by itself organically. Plus FLOSS like forests have a collective and common representation in all people's mind world wide.
But we may find one criticism to this analogy: You can destroy a forest but you cannot destroy a software. Right: Software is immaterial. Software does not wear out. Concerning FLOSS on the contrary massive usage makes its value (see network effect). But we consider that this criticism is wrong because a software can die: a software which is not maintained or which does not evolve is dying by obsolescence (even if the agony can be quite long). So we may also say that taking advantage of FLOSS without contributing to its sustainability is like logging without managing the forest.
Now what is the business model of a forest? Let us answer to this by two other questions:
Can you measure the value of the forests by IKEA's revenue?
And what would be IKEA's revenue when the forests disappear?
In our analysis in FLOSS, you have different kind of forests like in nature:
Pure community based FLOSS projects such as GCC, Linux, Apache http server, etc. are the Old-Growth Forests or Primary Forests (e.g. tropical rain forests)
Professional and business oriented project such as Jboss, MySQL, Eclipse … are Cultivated Forests
Finally Red Hat, IBM, Facebook, Google, … are the IKEAs of FLOSS.
In the same spirit, we could also compare Software and Service Industry to farming, Trustworthy Open Source Vendors are working on the basis of organic farming [ORGANIC] with respectful of their environment in opposition to intensive. In this perspective, Open Source Vendor would never be an oxymoron anymore but a well known and protected activity.
One more question remains: Where are the Yosemite National Parks of FLOSS?
This is the reason why we recommend to Public authorities and at large to citizens to take care of FLOSS as they take care of civic rights and of the environment as described in France's Constitution for instance [CONSTITUTION]. Finally we recommend to Public authorities to put in place all means which will enable National Parks of Floss to exist and to sustain.
No doubt that everybody agrees to pay less and to get more. But why should they give back? This is the trickiest question when it comes to describe FLOSS model to entrepreneurs, business men, investors and even Public Administration (having in charge to look after public money and the way it is spent).
The answer to this question might be found in the definition of Ego-Altruism [X]: provision to seek the interest of others if we benefit the maximum of this ourselves. Literally we only help when it benefits to ourselves.
Thanks to IT and FLOSS, companies and P.A. are well integrated in the global system of exchanges i.e. Global Society. To participate and contribute to FLOSS means not only to sustain this system but also for these companies and P.A. to maintain their own presence in this system. Companies and P.A. should accommodate their procurement rules in order to feed FLOSS ecosystems and to be able to be supported and to have successful answers to bids.
Thanks to FLOSS, citizens are empowered as cyber-citizens in a fair and transparent manner. Thanks to FLOSS they can have full and free access to all technologies enabling them to communicate on a global level. To make sure that they will always have access to these powerful tools and that they will always be able to satisfy theirs needs in term of global communication, they need to support and participate to the sustainability of FLOSS. In the way which they choose and which is the most convenient for them. But they must do it because like in democracy, nobody can use their rights for them.
[ASL] Associação Software Livre http://softwarelivre.org/
[BLOG] Examples of FLOSS Microblogging
[CLOUD] Examples of FLOSS for Cloud
Globus Nimbus http://workspace.globus.org/
Open Nebula http://www.opennebula.org/doku.php
Elastic Grid http://elastic-grid.ow2.org/
[CONSTITUTION] Extracts of FRANCE'S CONSTITUTION OF OCTOBER 4, 1958
DECLARATION OF HUMAN AND CIVIC RIGHTS OF 26 AUGUST 1789 (Extracts)
Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be based only on considerations of the common good.
The aim of every political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of Man. These rights are Liberty, Property, Safety and Resistance to Oppression.
The principle of any Sovereignty lies primarily in the Nation. No corporate body, no individual may exercise any authority that does not expressly emanate from it.
Liberty consists in being able to do anything that does not harm others: thus, the exercise of the natural rights of every man has no bounds other than those that ensure to the other members of society the enjoyment of these same rights. These bounds may be determined only by Law.
HARTER FOR ENVIRONMENT OF 2004 (Extracts)
Each one has the right to life in a balanced environment and respectful of health.
Any person has the duty to take share with the safeguarding and the improvement of the environment.
The public policies must promote a sustainable development. For this purpose, they reconcile protection and development of the environment, economic development and social progress.
Research and the innovation must assist in the safeguarding and the development of the environment.
[CORP] Some Floss companies:
ActiveGrid, ActiveState, Alfresco, BitRock, Black Duck, CollabNet, Collax, Compiere, Covalent, DB4O, Digium, Exadel, eXo Platform, eZ Systems, Fonality, Funambol, Groundwork, Hyperic, Ingres, Interface21, JasperSoft, Joomla, LaszloSystems, Medsphere, Mozilla Corp, MuleSource, Nexedi, Nuxeo, OpenBravo,OpenLogic, Open-Xchange, OTRS,Palamida, Pentaho, rPath, SnapLogic, Sourcelabs, Spikesource, SQLite, WebYog, SugarCRM, Talend, Terracotta, Ubuntu / Canonical, Vyatta, WSO2, Zenoss, Zimbra, Zmanda, etc.
[DYN] The Dynamics of Open-Source Contributors by JOSH LERNER,PARAG A. PATHAK, AND JEAN TIROLE http://econ-www.mit.edu/files/3023
[FOREST] Forest Ecology http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_ecology
[GOOG] In its earnings reports, Google reported $1.9 billion in spending on data centers in 2006 and $2.4 billion in 2007. http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/google-data-center-faq-part-2/
[HYBRID] Freemium http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freemium
Example of Open Core http://opsview-blog.opsera.com/dotorg/2009/08/opsview-and-the-open-core-model.html
[KUNDRA] President Obama Names Vivek Kundra Chief Information Officer http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/President-Obama-Names-Vivek-Kundra-Chief-Information-Officer/
[LIBRARY] The Google digital library row explained http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/sep/08/google-digital-library-row-explained
[LINUX] Linux Foundation Updates Study on Linux Development Statistics: Who Writes Linux and Who Supports It http://www.linuxfoundation.org/news-media/announcements/2009/08/linux-foundation-updates-study-linux-development-statistics-who-wri
[LULA] Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva talks about the importance of Free Software and the Internet at the 10th Free Software Internacional Forum, in Porto Alegre, Brazil - June 26th 2009, 2009 http://dotsub.com/view/40fd8f9c-fcb0-462f-b44c-ca6c38acdd9c
[MILL] John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873) who was an influential liberal thinker of the 19th century and an exponent of utilitarianism, has defined the term ego-altruism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stuart_Mill
[NET] Examples of FLOSS for Social Networking
[OBAMA] US Recovery Bill http://appropriations.house.gov/pdf/RecoveryBill01-15-09.pdf
US stimulus bill smiles on IT http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/01/16/us_house_stimulus_bill/
IT questions Obama's IT stimulus http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2009/02/04/comptia_stimulus_advice/
[OCC] The Open Cloud Consortium http://www.opencloudconsortium.org/
[OCF] Open Cloud Manifesto dedicated to the belief that the cloud should be open http://www.opencloudmanifesto.org/
[OKF] The Open Knowledge Foundation promoting Open Knowledge in a Digital Age http://www.okfn.org/
[OKI] OKI Project http://www.okiproject.org/
[ORGANIC] Organic Farming http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_farming
[OSA] A good example of intellectual recognition might be Open Source for America: http://opensourceforamerica.org/
[OSSD] One example of Open Service Definition http://opendefinition.org/ossd
[PIRATE] The Pirate Bay trial http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pirate_Bay_trial
[REDDING] Viviane Redding EU Commissioner for Telecoms and Media Digital Europe – Europe's Fast Track to Economic Recovery The Ludwig Erhard Lecture 2009 Lisbon Council, Brussels, 9 July 2009
[RH] Red Hat announced fiscal first-quarter  revenue of $174 million, up 11 percent from the prior year. Subscription revenue was up 14 percent year over year to $148.8 million. The company's total deferred revenue balance is now $567.3 million, an increase of 15 percent on a year-over-year basis. http://news.cnet.com/8301-13505_3-10272310-16.html
[SUN] European Commission may delay Sun-Oracle merger http://news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-10331809-92.html
[SHOWS] examples of Cloud Computing Tradeshows
Cloud World http://www.idg.com/www/IDGProducts.nsf/0/C13AEB914832BEEE852575AF0074250A
Cloud Computing Conference and Expo http://cloudcomputingexpo.com/
Cloud Computing Conference http://www.it360.ca/index.cfm?pagepath=Cloud/Attend&id=14704
[STALLMAN1] Stallman: Cloud computing is 'stupidity' http://news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-10054253-92.html
[STALLMAN2] “Software livre é uma necessidade social”, afirma Stallman http://www.consegi.gov.br/2009/informativos-1/copy_of_201csoftware-livre-esta-alem-de-uma-questao-economica-e-uma-necessidade-social201d-afirma-stallman
[TIO] FFII TIO Workgroup Releases Guidelines to Protect Freedom and Competition in the Cloud http://press.ffii.org/Press%20releases/FFII%20TIO%20Workgroup%20Releases%20Guidelines%20to%20Protect%20Freedom%20and%20Competition%20in%20the%20Cloud
[VIRT] Xen http://www.xen.org/
[WOLTON] Dominique Wolton published in 2001 (in French) an interesting point of view about the potentials and the risks of Internet http://www.wolton.cnrs.fr/EN/dwcompil/presse/europe_agriculture.html