Open Source Adoption Reaches Tipping Point

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Open source software is finding increasing favour, with many businesses now committing to clear open source strategies and policies

More and more organisations are commiting to open source policies and strategies, according to a survey from IT services supplier Accenture.

This conclusion backs the findings in this week’s poll of eWEEK Europe UK readers, a clear majority of whom (40 percent) stated that their organisation’s backed, whenever possible, an open source strategy.

The Accenture survey was of 300 large organisations with annual revenue in excess of $500 million (£315 million) in both the private and public sector.

Tipping Point

The survey found that open source has now reached a turning point, with many organisations in the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland now committing to clear strategies and policies for open source software development.

More than two-thirds (69 percent) of organisations said that they anticipate increased investment in 2010, with more than a third (38 percent) expecting to migrate mission-critical software to open source in the next twelve months.

Like the eWEEK Europe UK readers poll, the clear majority (50 percent) said they are fully committed to open source in their business, while almost a third (28 percent) said they are experimenting with open source and keeping an open mind to using it.

Two thirds of all respondents (65 percent) indicated that they have a fully documented strategic approach for using open source in their business, while another third (32 percent) are developing a strategic plan.

Customer Loyalty

And even more good news for the open source community is that, once a company experiences open source, they rarely go back. Almost nine out of ten (88 percent) of the organisations currently using open source, said they will increase their investment in the software in 2010 compared to 2009.

“What we are seeing is the coming of age of open source,” said Paul Daugherty, chief technology architect at Accenture. “Through both our research and our work with clients, we are seeing an increase in demand for open source based on quality, reliability and speed, not just cost savings. This is a significant change from just two years ago when uptake was driven mainly by cost savings. We can expect to see this trend develop as open source continues to evolve and address even more business critical functions.”

The fact that cost is no longer the main motivation for adopting open source is significant. A staggering 76 percent of respondents in the UK and US cited quality as a key benefit of open source, while two-thirds overall (71 percent) cited improved reliability. And 70 percent of respondents across both countries cited better security/bug fixing. Those findings could be construed as a damning indictment on the current state of commercial software offerings.

Yet it is clear that cost does remain a factor for selecting open source. Half of the respondents (50 percent) cited an overall lower total cost of ownership as the reason for opting for open source. Respondents felt that the biggest cost savings can be made on software maintenance costs (71 percent), initial software development time (33 percent) and initial development costs (33 percent).

Last month IDC said that the market for open source software has been accelerated by both the slow economy and increased acceptance from enterprise customers.

Not Sharing

But rather worryingly, the survey did throw up an unwelcome development, with companies not open to sharing their solutions. Less than a third (29 percent) said they would be willing to contribute their own solutions back to the community.

Other problem areas for companies include lack of senior management support, training and insufficient open source alternatives, all of which are hindering further open source adoption.

“We are seeing strong momentum and commitment to move further along with open source,” said Accenture’s Daugherty. “The current wave of companies adopting open source are experiencing strong benefits, however there are still organisations hesitant about the shared community model. As open source software is used in more critical business functions the next step will be for organisations to decide whether to actively contribute back to the community.”

The full report can be found here.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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