An open foundation built for 2020

By Muggie van Staden, MD of Obsidian Systems

Even though the transaction closed in July, IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat has been the defining moment for open source in 2019. Valued at $34 billion, it shows the importance of open source to business growth in a digital world.

Cynics might argue that Big Blue will never be able to justify the spend, but sentiment is that this could position the open standards environment as an integral part of any technological disruption that will take place. Companies across industry sectors have already begun re-evaluating where ICT investment must be focused on especially given how the cloud has become more mainstream in the South African market.

Cloud migration

What the IBM, Red Hat deal shows, is that the migration to open hybrid cloud technologies will be the way to go as we head into the new decade. Companies are using the digital transition as the means to modernise aging infrastructure and re-examine legacy processes. And while much of the movement to the cloud has revolved around going public, expectations are that next year will bring with it a return to a hybrid approach where mission-critical data will remain on-site. However, putting a secure and user-friendly platform in place to make data movement from on-premise to public an easier journey will result in businesses even more readily embrace open starts to deploy, run, and manage data in this hybrid world.

Beyond the acquisition, 2019 also saw containers and micro-services starting to become mainstream in South Africa. These have become some of the most quickly adopted enterprise software development technologies in the market today. Moving from testing to production environments, containers are changing how applications are structured to reflect a more agile and smarter market. Customers demand real-time responsiveness to queries, product customisation, and personalised experiences. Containers provide the delivery mechanism to accomplish this.

Docking stations

However, this has not been a quick journey. Docker began the process more than six years ago. But adding impetus to this has been its importance in enabling digital transformation. As part of this, container orchestration will become a critical skill in the developer teams of organisations. Upskilling employees take on increased importance as organisations seek to find competitive advantage. This is less likely coming from product differentiation and more to do with the customer experience.

Taking all these various components into consideration, and you have a market that is ripe to benefit even more from a cloud-centric (and open) landscape. South African businesses are having more serious discussions around multi-cloud and hybrid cloud implementations. Throughout this, an open approach relying on an agile approach through containers give organisations the impetus they need to be digital-first.

Technologies like artificial intelligence, automation, and machine-learning might be the flavour of the moment, but without open standards none of it will matter. This is essential to provide companies with the means to more readily link their data sources to real-time analytical models that result in business growth. The next decade is going to present even more opportunities for growth on-premise and in the cloud. Just how effective an organisation will be in managing this will depend on its ability to embrace an open environment.