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2020 FLOSS Roadmap reevaluates its projections and identifies significant changes in its 2009 edition


JP Laisné The first edition of the 2020 FLOSS Roadmap was published at the Open World Forum in December 2008.
This Roadmap is a projection of the influences that will affect FLOSS until 2020, with descriptions of all FLOSS-related trends as anticipated by contributors over this period of time.
These findings are summarized in a graphical road map (
see Figure 1) and a list of predictions and recommendations. The 2009 synthesis is an update summarizing the discussions that have taken place during the study period.

So far, so good. Contributors to the 2020 FLOSS Roadmap estimate that their projections are still relevant. The technological trends envisioned – including the use of FLOSS for virtualization, micro-blogging and social networking – have been confirmed. Contributors consider that their predictions about Cloud Computing may have to be revised, due to accelerating adoption of the concepts by the market. The number of mature FLOSS projects addressing all technological and organizational aspects of Cloud Computing is confirming the importance of FLOSS in this area. Actually, the future of true Open Clouds will mainly depend on convergence towards a common definition of 'openness' and 'open services'.

Contradictory evolutions. While significant progress was observed in line with 2020 FLOSS Roadmap, the 2009 synthesis highlights contradictory evolutions: the penetration of FLOSS continues, but at political level there is still some blocking. The alliance between security and proprietary has been reinforced, and has delayed the evolution of lawful environments. In terms of public policies, progress is variable. Except in Brazil, United Kingdom and the Netherlands, who have made notable moves, no other major stimulus for FLOSS has appeared on the radar. The 2009 synthesis is questioning why governments are still reluctant to adopt a more voluntary 'FLOSS attitude'. Because FLOSS supports new concepts of 'society' and supports the links between technology and solidarity, it should be taken into account in public policies.

Two new issues have emerged, which will need to be explored in the coming months: proprietary hardware platforms, which may slow the development of FLOSS, and proprietary data, which may create critical lock-ins even when software is free.

The global economic crisis has proved to be an opportunity for most FLOSS vendors, who have seen their business grow significantly in 2009, while the global crisis may have had a negative impact on services-based businesses and services vendors specializing in FLOSS. When it comes to Cloud-based businesses, the facts tend to show a massive migration of applications in the coming months. Impressive growth in terms of hosting is paving the way for these migrations.

Sun/Oracle, a major event, with the potential risk that it will significantly redefine the FLOSS landscape. But while the number of major IT players is decreasing, the number of small and medium-size companies focused around FLOSS is growing rapidly. This movement is structured around technology communities and business activities, with some of the business models involved being hybrid ones.

FLOSS is like forests. The 2009 synthesis puts forward this analogy to make it easier to understand the complexity of FLOSS through the use of a simple and rich image. Like forests and their canopies – which play host to a rich bio-diversity and diverse ecosystems – FLOSS is diverse, with multiple layers and branches both in term of technology and creation of wealth. Like a forest, FLOSS provides vital oxygen to industry. Like forests, which have brought both health and wealth throughout human history, FLOSS plays an important role in the transformation of society. Having accepted this analogy, contributors to the Roadmap subsequently identified different kind of forests: 'old-growth forests' or 'primary forests', which are pure community-based FLOSS projects such as Linux; 'cultivated forests', which are the professional and business-oriented projects such as Jboss and MySQL; and 'FLOSS tree nurseries', which are communities such as Apache, OW2 and Eclipse. And finally the 'IKEAs' of FLOSS are companies such as Red Hat and Google.

Ego-altruism. The 2009 synthesis insists on the need to encourage FLOSS users to contribute to FLOSS. Thanks to FLOSS, public sector bodies, NGOs, companies, citizens, etc. have full, free and fair access to technologies enabling them to communicate on a global level. To make sure that they will always have access to these powerful tools, they have to support and participate in the sustainability of FLOSS.

New Recommendation : acknowledge the intrinsic value of FLOSS infrastructure for essential applications as a public knowledge good (or 'as knowledge commons'), and consider new means to ensure its sustainable development.

Table 1: Predictions and Recommendations

Seven predictions for FLOSS in 2020

  1. Global Digital Divide reduced thanks to FLOSS

  2. FLOSS is now mainstream

  3. FLOSS Communities are enablers of Business Ecosystems

  4. Cloud Computing is ubiquitous

  5. The IT industry is the champion of eco-responsibility

  6. FLOSS is a strategic tool for Enterprise IT 3.0, i.e. Open IT

  7. 40% of jobs in IT are FLOSS related

Eight Recommendations:

  1. Define a stable, clear and neutral legal context

  2. Invest in FLOSS R&D for strategic technologies and services

  3. Develop FLOSS education, skill and employment

  4. Create Open Platforms based on Open Standards and Open Services

  5. Establish Openness as a standard for Innovation and Business

  6. Promote FLOSS adoption and usage

  7. Encourage FLOSS users to contribute to FLOSS

  8. Develop inter-actions between FLOSS Communities


Floss roadmap2020 FLOSS Roadmap