Enterprise open source and edge computing: 4 stats to know

How are enterprise IT leaders using open source tools in their edge computing and hybrid cloud strategies – and digital transformation efforts? Let's examine four telling data points from Red Hat's 2021 State of Enterprise Open Source report
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Edge computing and enterprise open source are two important trends that have a lot to do with each other. Edge depends upon open  hybrid cloud, to deliver flexibility and consistency advantages for enterprise IT. It’s a symbiotic relationship, as Rosa Guntrip, senior principal marketing manager, cloud platforms at Red Hat, recently noted.

“Businesses need flexibility in terms of where they place their workloads, and if their strategy changes, [they need] consistency of operations – for both ITOps and developers, so as to enable them to react quickly and with minimal disruption,” says Guntrip.

[ Get a shareable primer: How to explain edge computing in plain English.] 

The 2021 State of Enterprise Open Source Report  offers up some data points that highlight the relationship between edge, enterprise open source, and other critical trends such as hybrid cloud and digital transformation. Let’s take a look:

1. Enterprise open source is prevalent in edge computing

Enterprise open source is prevalent in emerging technology areas in general. 79 percent of survey respondents expect to increase their use of enterprise open source for this purpose over the next two years. But edge computing – and its related Internet-of-Things (IoT) use case – is the place where its usage is highest: Today, enterprise open source appears in 55 percent of such use cases. That’s already a big number but it’s expected to shoot up to 72 percent over the next two years.

Edge computing is all about multiple infrastructures and platforms working and integrating with a variety of software stacks

Open source innovation plays a critical role in ensuring open and interoperable solutions are created across a wide ecosystem. Edge computing is all about multiple infrastructures and platforms working and integrating with a variety of software stacks. Enterprise open source is a natural fit.

2. Edge computing is part and parcel with the hybrid cloud model

Edge computing, by definition, spans different types of infrastructure from the network edge to the datacenter core (whether on-premises, in a public cloud, or both.) An edge strategy is a recognition that pulling all compute and storage into the core doesn’t work for many purposes. Bandwidth, latency, and resilience are just a few of the reasons why a strategy that relies solely on centralization is often sub-optimal.

But consistency is key. This consistency is provided in part by open source platforms and integration software. The goal should be to avoid edge deployments composed of siloed islands of technology.

The survey highlighted that a hybrid or multi-cloud approach is the norm; only 34 percent indicated that they only use a single public cloud. For another data point, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s CNCF Survey 2020 found that the number of organizations with on-premises infrastructure was increasing faster than the number using public clouds between 2019 and 2020. (It can be hard to interpret some of these results because different people use terms differently, but the general trends are worth highlighting.)

3. Digital transformation is an important use of enterprise open source, more than half say

Data’s a big part of digital transformation. In part, this relates to data analysis using artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), another important enterprise open source emerging technology area. Certainly, the large volumes of data associated with AI/ML are a big driver of architectures that reduce the need to ship vast quantities of unfiltered data back to a central location.

However, it’s also about distributing capabilities out closer to services and users, which can improve response times and resilience against network hiccups. Factors like these can be critical in areas such as healthcare.

This relationship between edge computing and digital transformation pulls in enterprise open source as well. I’ve already discussed the direct relationship between edge and enterprise open source. But enterprise open source is also related to digital transformation. Indeed, the majority (54 percent) of respondents now say that digital transformation is an important use of enterprise open source, a number that’s climbed 11 points over the past two years.

This is in keeping with a general upleveling of how enterprise open source is viewed within organizations. Rather than mostly a cheaper infrastructure play, enterprise open source is increasingly viewed by IT leaders as appropriate for strategically important initiatives including digital transformation.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

4. Open source furthers IT leaders’ security, flexibility, cloud, and innovation goals

Finally, we just see an overall alignment between attributes associated with enterprise open source and those needed for edge computing. For example, 84 percent view open source as a key part of their organization’s security strategy. In fact, 87 percent see enterprise open source as “more secure” or “as secure” as proprietary software. Security certainly is a hot edge computing and IoT topic; of course, it’s a hot topic for enterprise IT overall.

Other highly-ranked attributes are also clear edge requirements. 81 percent said enterprise open source provides flexibility to customize solutions to meet a company’s needs. That’s the interoperability and integration needed for edge that I discussed earlier.

Respondents also highlighted how enterprise open source is instrumental in an organization’s ability to take advantage of cloud architectures (80 percent) and simplifies the process of adopting a hybrid cloud architecture (78 percent). Once again, these are core requirements for building an edge architecture that doesn’t exist in the absence of a hybrid cloud.

Finally, there’s access to innovation, an enterprise open source benefit that IT decision makers increasingly value. 82 percent of respondents said that enterprise open source is used by the most innovative companies.

Edge computing is one of the most important technology growth areas. Market researchers International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that the worldwide edge computing market will reach $250.6 billion in 2024 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.5 percent over the 2019–2024 forecast period. Enterprise open source has what’s needed to help organizations succeed with their edge strategies.

For more data points and detail, download the full 2021 State of Enterprise Open Source Report . 

[ Want to learn more about edge and data-intensive applications? Get the details on how to build and manage data-intensive intelligent applications in a hybrid cloud blueprint. ]

Gordon Haff is Technology Evangelist at Red Hat where he works on product strategy, writes about trends and technologies, and is a frequent speaker at customer and industry events on topics including DevOps, IoT, cloud computing, containers, and next-generation application architectures.