12th January 2017

Open source technology in 2017 - greater security, creativity and diversity of service

Simon Wakeman
Managing Director
open source

2016 has been a polarising year. A year when the unexpected and largely unpredicted has occurred, shocking people worldwide. We have lurched into a post-truth era, where emotion transcends logic, and maintaining the status quo is no longer a given.

Change is inevitable and there are vast swathes of global society who are disappointed and apprehensive about what lies ahead. In times of uncertainty, an increased focus on collaboration and community is appealing and desirable.

The internet has long been a polarising force, a connecting platform that allows individuals to find kindred spirits they might not have been able to find before, regardless of their allegiances and views.

Open source technology is a positive example of the way the internet can encourage global collaboration working towards a more secure and creative future. Here are four predictions for open source technologies in 2017:

1. Security

No form of code is infallible. By nature, there are quirks and vulnerabilities that need addressing as software grows and develops – the endless job of programmers working to improve code on a daily basis.

Security is an increasingly important consideration for businesses when developing online. The security battle between closed source and open source technology is long-standing, and ongoing.

However, open source has community spirit and sheer numbers on its side. While the fact an infinite number of people can access and improve code could be imagined as a threat to security, the ethos within open source communities and straightforward safeguards actually mean this isn’t the case.

With such a large number of people actively working on open source technologies, any vulnerabilities are spotted extremely quickly, and due to the transparent and collaborative nature of the communities, they are resolved in a discreet and effective manner.

Proprietary technology doesn’t have the same advantages – weaknesses may take longer to spot and repair due to the limited number of people scrutinising the technology at any one time.

2017 will see a significant increase in the self-supporting growth of open source technology communities. The more experts working on the code, the quicker bugs will be resolved and the better it will become, encouraging more members of the web community to get involved. This has a beneficial impact on perceptions of open source outside the community.

2. Creativity

The number of headless or decoupled content management systems are growing rapidly, and is now one of the bigger trends in the web community. This is because there is ongoing evolution from websites to more interactive web applications and a need for multi-channel publishing.

We live in a world that is increasingly dominated by mobile devices, and consumers have become incredibly used to the functionality and experience associated with app-based content, expecting a fluid, immersive experience on browsers too.

Headless content management systems will become more widespread in 2017, as more and more open source programmers realise the creative potential for building a digital platform that doesn’t feel like a website.

Drupal 7 and 8 already accommodate this architecture well, and as their communities work to develop the code, it’s only set to become more flexible and prevalent. We will see a more creatively diverse offering of open source sites using headless to deliver smoother UX accompanied by beautiful design.

3. Tight deadlines

We live in an economy where instant gratification is highly valued. This combined with a fast-moving economy often means that businesses need to be able to deploy and customise websites on a tight deadline.

We’re only going to see this increase in 2017 as businesses have to work harder under more uncertain economic circumstances. The fact that open source is naturally scalable and there is no vendor lock-in will be of real appeal to businesses.

There is an open source technology option for every size of business, each of which has its own advantage, from corporates, governments and charities using Drupal, to start-ups making the most of WordPress. Open source is the key to a flexible future.

4. Chaos control

We have reached a stage in web history where larger businesses have often accumulated incredibly chaotic web estates. This chaos is largely down to the fact that different stakeholders will have had different aims for websites over the years. This means businesses will often have worked with multiple partners and technologies, leaving a somewhat confusing legacy.

2017 will see open source technologies, such as Drupal, maturing even further to meet the constantly changing needs of businesses and brands, allowing a level of flexibility that will establish a solid web foundation for years to come.

Developments such as Drupal’s module group allow complex web estates to become more coherent while being easier to manage and provide an exceptional user experience. This will become more widespread.

It’s going to be an exciting year for the open source community as technological developments combine with a trend towards transparency and a need for a collaborative community.