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N°34  |  February   2009
Experts voice

2020 FLOSS ROADMAP: Where is Open Source headed in the years ahead?
By Jean-Pierre Laisné, Open Source Chief Strategist, Bull

L. Mourer

Co-founder of AFUL1 and President of the OW2 Consortium – the main international consortium specializing in Open Source ‘middleware’, and a merge of ObjectWeb and OrientWare consortiums in 2007 – Jean-Pierre Laisné also manages the Competences Center within the QualiPSo consortium, an international alliance of major industry players committed to ensuring the quality of Open Source software 


The Open World Forum ( which took place at the beginning of December 2008 in Paris, provided the opportunity to build an unprecedented forward-looking discussion document: the 2020 roadmap for Open Source software (2020 FLOSS Roadmap). This document can be downloaded free from, and is the result of several months work by international and recognized representatives of the Open Source community (businesses, researchers, public sector bodies, software publishers and systems integrators, communities of developers…). Together, we have pooled our visions of the future so as to identify new horizons and formulate recommendations. As result of a collaborative effort in which Bull is a major contributor, this roadmap is a world first which has attracted the attention of the international press2 : it’s a new way that facilitates dialogue between decision-makers, authorities and Open Source communities. Today, the roadmap is a working document, open to comments and contributions, and its content will be reviewed each year.     

The 2020 FLOSS roadmap highlights the huge potential of Open Source, and the major influence it will have on future technologies such as Cloud Computing, Green IT, the Internet of Objects, virtual organizations, heightened reality and mobile robots.

All contributors agree on the need to draw attention to the fact that in this period of global crisis – a crisis that is both ecological and systemic, where the future is uncertain – Open Source applications are proving to be a formidable opportunity and a driver for change, a catalyst for changing industrial working practices and opening up the way for new markets. The challenge is then to transform this massive potential into reality. One of our think-tank’s first tasks was to project into the future, and sketch out a map of possible ways forward (see diagram below).  

Figure 1: 2020 FLOSS Roadmap:
the roadmap for Open Source software published in December 2008  

Using the projections in the Roadmap, we have identified 7 major predictions for 2020:

  • Open Source applications will help to reduce the digital divide. Its specific qualities (a common asset, sharing and mutual contributions), open the way to sustainable development for a more equitable digital economy. A certain number of measures to protect collective achievements will be put in place at a global level.
  • Open Source software will be everywhere, in everything from IT infrastructure to applications. It will become the dominant standard for certain segments of the software industry, and its development models will be widely adopted by suppliers of IT solutions and users alike. 
  • Open Source communities will facilitate the emergence of a new generation of business ecosystems. These ecosystems will be built around hybrid business models i.e. open, and mixed open/proprietary models. Forges, a key environment for developers, will become veritable market places.
  • Cloud Computing will become more widespread. In 2020, social networks will also be the main means of interaction and communication: not only for personal relationships, but also in business transactions and exchanges with the public sector. Nevertheless, although mobile devices, ambient computing, and intelligent objects will all be converging around Cloud Computing (which serves as an integration platform for them), only open Cloud services will be capable of ensuring adequate control of data and the sovereignty of systems.  
  • The IT industry will be the champion of environmental responsibility. With increasingly energy-efficient networks and data centers, Green Computing and environmentally responsible Cloud Computing will open up the way to new services and economic models that have little impact on the environment.
  • Open Source software will be a strategic tool for enterprise 3.0, in other words, open and collaborative organizations. A new generation of IT Directors will have developed a heightened awareness of the risks of lock-in, and will consider Open Source applications as a guarantee against this issue.
  • 40% of jobs in the IT sector will be directly linked to Open Source software. Projected annual growth in employment of 2% from 2008 could lead to the creation of 1.5 million jobs in this sector in Europe alone, of which 1.2 million would be completely new career opportunities. In addition, the business activities stimulated by the use of Open Source applications could lead to the creation of millions of related jobs.    

These changes are not just a figment of some science fiction novel, many are in progress: however they could be delayed, or even stopped in their tracks, particularly by a strong revival in ‘closed’ technologies, and resulting inevitably in the slower adoption of open technologies.  

With this in mind, we have drawn up a list of 8 key recommendations (the full version of the roadmap document gives a much larger number of detailed recommendations):

  • Define a stable, clear and neutral legal framework (covering intellectual property, public tender regulations, interoperability and open standards, reliability, respect for privacy, security…) to prevent the formation of new monopolies.
  • Direct R&D effort towards Open Source software to facilitate technology transfer, lower entry barriers, and so enable new players in innovative technologies and services to emerge.
  • Develop specific training around open technologies and their associated collaborative skills, to facilitate access to knowledge, reduce the digital divide, and train the highly qualified professionals needed by the future knowledge economy.
  • Create open platforms based on open standards and services, to facilitate the implementation of new services (both in the public and private sectors) and new networks, as well as the opening up of new markets.
  • Put openness as the standard for innovation. On a grand scale, Open Source software has effectively demonstrated the efficiency of the open model for development (as opposed to the closed model) in terms of innovation and wealth creation (the Internet, WorldWide Web...). The systematic use of open standards by public sector organizations and major businesses should contribute to this.
  • Widely promote and encourage the adoption and use of Open Source software. Governments, the public sector, but also larger enterprises should send out a clear and unambiguous message in their invitations to tender.
  • Encourage users to contribute, including through the use of tax incentives. Not only businesses and the public sector, but also the world of research are all too often still reluctant to share the code they have developed to modify or correct their applications. It is fundamentally important that users contribute to the Open Source software that they are using: it is at the heart of what we refer to as the ‘new software ecology’. 
  • Stimulate interaction between Open Source software communities. National and international programs must encourage cross-fertilization between the various communities: in addition to sharing code, it will be important to encourage the sharing of available infrastructures.

The future role of our think-tank will be to refine our analyses, rethink our predictions according to the way things have evolved in reality, and based on the success stories and setbacks experienced over the course of time. In order to evaluate this evolution, a new version of the FLOSS Roadmap will be published annually at the future Open World Forums. Finally, we hope that new contributors, from new fields, will join us and enrich our reflections with their diverse points of view.

1 AFUL : the Association of French-speaking users of Linux and Open Source software
2 See 2020 FLOSS Roadmap and Looking Forward, 3 December 2008 by Glyn Moody >>

More about the Open World Forum
With 160 participants from 20 countries and a 1,200-strong international audience, the Open World Forum in Paris on 2-3 December 2008 brought together professionals and experts from across the world of Open Source software. Currently undergoing strong growth, this sector is at the heart of the digital revolution, and is likely to represent 30% of investment in software and IT services by the year 2012 – that is, 2% of GDP for a country like France. Created by a group of Open Source Software communities and major players in the IT industry, the Open World Forum aimed to bring together players in the Open Source arena to share their vision and projects/initiatives to stimulate innovation and competitiveness in, and through, Open Source software. The Forum notably brought together some of the most important players in the international IT industry (Accenture, Alcatel-Lucent, Atos, Bull, CapGemini, Google, IBM, HP, SAP, Siemens, Sun...), the main communities (Apache, Eclipse, Linux Foundation, OW2...), major research centers and competitiveness clusters (Cap Digital, INRIA, Fraunhofer FOKUS, System@tic...) and a large network of SMEs from four continents. Bull was a major contributor to this event, with Jean-Pierre Laisné chairing the program committee and the task of producing the 2020 FLOSS Roadmap.
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