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Open source powers the cloud

Open source software was once akin to a rebel army waging a war for freedom against the dominant imperial empire.

Now open source has become the ruling power itself, quietly wrapping the world in a massive all-embracing cloud.

It's been an epic journey, and the Linux Foundation's executive director Jim Zemlin sounded like a conquering hero on stage in Shanghai recently declaring that open source reigns supreme.

"Linux runs most of modern society ā€“ the vast majority of the world's stock markets, mobile devices, and virtually all high performance cloud systems. Linux is by far the most successful software development in history," he told the Huawei Connect conference.

Open source is powering the cloud, the next wave of computing where software, services, infrastructure and computing platforms will all be available as an external service for any company anywhere at any time.

It's already happening, but it's going to get much bigger and all-embracing.

Alliances are being formed to cement the world domination of open source. "The Linux Foundation is working with thousands of organisations to build the greatest shared technology investment in history," Zemlin said.

About 3.8-million open source contributors around the world have already created 31 billion lines of code that are available to anyone on Earth.

"In a world powered by software, there's simply too much software to write for one company to write itself. To get to market faster and compete, organisations like Huawei and the best technology companies in the world are all leveraging open source," he said. "No single company can keep up with the development pace and the good news is they don't have to, because any organisation, any individual, can take Linux and leverage it to create technology products and services that are going to drive the future."

Open source was first designed as a free alternative to existing proprietary technologies, he said. Now we are seeing a new era where the cloud is being built on open source at every layer of the stack.

The Linux Foundation has teamed up with some massive players to make the cloud rock solid and reliable. "We are working with companies like Huawei to accelerate innovation in the cloud," Zemlin said.

One goal is to create a project to teach people to write more secure software on day one, so there are fewer vulnerabilities later. The foundation and various corporations are also creating governance structures and a massive ecosystem so clients can scale up their cloud services incredibly quickly. Companies must be able to invest in open source projects and know that the assets will always be available, as well as being able to protect anything they need to keep to themselves.

The foundation is also working with Huawei to create training and certification programmes to ensure that enough experts will be available as more companies come to depend upon it.

"Talent is in short supply in the cloud space ā€“ it's extremely scarce," agreed Ken Hu, one of Huawei's three rotating CEOs. "Companies need to plan for this and on-board top talent as soon as they can. At Huawei we are actively doing that and we want to bring more of the world's best skills to us."

The Linux Foundation recognises that industry alliances are vital to grow its community and fuel cloud computing, which is changing how industries operate.

"As we all work together to create the greatest shared technology asset in history it's not just that there's too much code for any company to write by itself," Zemlin said. "It's a more important idea ā€“ it's that all of us are smarter than any one of us."


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