During June of last year, Microsoft acquired one of the largest version control service providers, Github. What repercussions does this have and what does the future look like for these types of services? What can we extrapolate from such a decision? To truly understand the questions in question, we must focus on what we are storing. Data is vital to all aspects of development, from how we handle it, where we store it, and to whom we entrust our valuable information. Who has access to it, what law protects it from unintended use and what projects can be derived from it. Information has become so critical to us that, to keep it secure, we have developed mechanisms to maintain strict control over how we collaborate and store.
Data hosting services are nothing new, we’ve had Rapidshare, Megaupload, and other companies providing data hosting services for years before Github existed. While the services they provide are essentially different, they all handle and store data for end users with free and paid hosting paradigms. These free plans were the first step toward the snowball that slowly led the industry to adapt to newer and different approaches to free and paid repository services.
To show or not to show?
GitHub has always had a free storage option, but in the past, that free tier was limited to public repositories, where everyone can see and fork a copy of their hard work. If you were an aspiring developer who wanted to delve into source code control early on, the best affordable option was to make your code public. Even after landing your first developer job, when it comes time to move on or work on a side project, you may not want to have your job available for anyone or your current employer to see and make assumptions. A company that in the past had a free Github account for its source code on serious commercial projects generally had as much credibility as a three dollar bill.
At the end of the day, the deal was almost inevitable, whether it was Google, Apple, or another company within the conglomerate cloud that Github might have bought. So what does it mean for the world’s largest software company to buy the world’s largest repository of collective source code? For starters, it means that Microsoft now has the ability to access the repositories of approximately 28 million developers and organizations. Second, Github suddenly becomes a standard for future companies that might want to start with a source control service. Developers won’t settle for less than the minimum they get for free, and from our perspective, independent software developers won’t settle for anything else.
That said, the future holds new and exciting plans as these platforms will continue to switch to different pricing plans, now instead of being a hassle for developers and logistics, they will move on to providing different tools alongside the hosting service that they toast and on the one hand, I am curious what we will see in the coming years, as we expect more and more companies to adhere to these new plans.