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Technology Radar Vol.17

Insights into the technology and trends shaping the future

Themes for this edition

Because of changes in both attitude and policy, many large Chinese companies such as Alibaba and Baidu are rapidly releasing open source frameworks, tools and platforms.
The software development ecosystem is settling on Kubernetes and related tools to solve the common problems.
As cloud providers become more capable and reach parity of features, the public cloud model is becoming the new default for many organizations.
Many of our clients are finding ways to leverage blockchain solutions for distributed ledgers and smart contracts.

Open Source on the Rise in China

The tide is rising. Because of changes in both attitude and policy, large Chinese companies such as Alibaba and Baidu are rapidly releasing open source frameworks, tools and platforms. The growth of their software ecosystems is accelerating fast as they expand economically. Given the number of software projects in the booming and massive Chinese markets, the number and quality of open source projects appearing on GitHub and other open source sites is expected to rise. Why would Chinese companies open source so many assets? As is the case with hot software markets such as Silicon Valley, competition for developers is tight and offering higher compensation only goes so far. The prospect of working on cutting-edge open source projects with other smart developers is a universal incentive. We expect major open source innovations to continue the trend of README files written in Chinese first and English second.

Kubernetes, the Choice for Container Orchestrator

A large number of Radar entries revolved around Kubernetes and its increasingly dominant presence on many projects. It seems that the software development ecosystem is settling on Kubernetes and related tools to solve the common problems related to deployment, scaling and operating containers. Radar entries such as GKE, Kops, and Sonobuoy introduce managed platform services and tooling that improve the overall experience of adopting and running Kubernetes. Indeed, its capability to simply run multiple containers as one unit of scheduling enables service mesh and sidecar for endpoint security. Kubernetes has become the default operating system for containers: many cloud providers have taken advantage of its open and modular architecture to adopt and run Kubernetes, while tools leverage its open APIs to access abstractions such as workloads, clusters, configuration, and storage. We see more products utilizing Kubernetes as an ecosystem, making it the next level of abstraction after microservices and containers. This is further evidence that developers can successfully leverage modern architectural styles despite the inherent complexities of distributed systems.

Cloud as the New Normal

The other pervasive topic of conversation, while pulling together this edition, had a distinctly "cloudy" nature. As cloud providers become more capable and reach parity of features, the public cloud model is becoming the new default for many organizations. Instead of asking, "Why in the cloud?", many companies now ask, "Why not in the cloud?" when embarking on new projects. Certainly, some types of software still demand on-premises systems, but as prices drop and capabilities expand, cloud-native development becomes increasingly viable. Even though basic feature parity is a given among the major cloud solution providers, they each also provide unique offerings to differentiate themselves for specific types of solutions. Thus, we see companies taking advantage of several different providers via Polycloud, choosing the specialized capabilities of those platforms that best suit their customers' needs.

Trust in Blockchain More Evenly Distributed

Despite the chaos surrounding cryptocurrencies in the markets, many of our clients are finding ways to leverage blockchain solutions for distributed ledgers and smart contracts. Several Radar entries show maturity in the use of blockchain-related technologies, providing increasingly interesting ways to implement smart contracts, with a variety of techniques and programming languages. Blockchains solve the age-old problem of distributed trust and shared, indelible ledgers. Today, companies are increasing their users' confidence in the underlying mechanics of blockchain implementations. Many industries have distinct distributed trust problems; we expect blockchain solutions to continue to find ways to solve them.

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