Open Source has become mainstream across all sectors of the software industry during the past 10 years. To a large extent, open software re-use has proven economically efficient. The level of maturity of Open Source Hardware (OSH) remains far lower than that of Open Source Software (OSS). However, business ecosystems for OSH are developing fast so that OSH could constitute a cornerstone of the future Internet of Things (IoT) and the future of computing.

Picture of programming language on black computer screen

There are questions that are pertinent to be asked with regard to the future of OSS and OSH: Is the dramatic expansion of Open Source Software going to continue? Where is the limit? Will Open Source Hardware follow the path of its sibling?

In November 2019, the European Commission will be organising a workshop to analyse the future of Open Source Software and hardware. The workshop will bring stakeholders together to discuss current challenges, opportunities, R&I, economic and policy-making issues will be covered.

More specifically, the workshop will focus on:

  • The role of Open Source as innovation enabler
  • How Open source can contribute towards the technological independence of Europe
  • Open source in the industry and the public sector

Further details will be published in September on this page.

If you are interested and wish more information, please contact the organisers of the workshop.

Background info

The Top-500 HPC in the world use Operating Systems based on Linux and scientific applications running on them are overwhelmingly using Open Source (e.g. OpenFOAM, OpenQCD, GAMESS, NWChem, Octave, …). OSS is also dominant in software infrastructures and constitutes the basis of very successful commercial systems (e.g. Android). Open Source is powering 86,1% of the smartphones, 67% of public servers, 75% of embedded systems. Other relevant policy areas are also seeing an increase in the use of Open Source: Artificial Intelligence (e.g. Google’s Tensorflow for Machine learning), Cloud (e.g. OpenStack based solutions), cyber security (e.g. MISP). There are also B2B Open Source platforms: Siemens’ MindSphere offers a managed open source Platform-as-a-Service for developing cross-platform applications and lowering development efforts for the IoT domain and Bosch has just adopted an open source strategy to transform IoT.

To give an example for a business ecosystem for OSH, there is e.g. the Reprap 3D printer which constitutes an ecosystem on its own of global dimension. OSH shares with OSS its modularity and self-assembly feature. If OSH is to follow the same development as OSS, it can be expected that the demand for OSH develops rapidly in the next decade.

Organiser
European Commission