Open Source Gains Momentum in Business

Artwork: Chip Taylor
Some 46 percent of businesses have implemented open source software, or plan to pilot it this year, according to a Forrester Research survey of 2,200 IT executives in the UK, France, Germany, the US and Canada.

France and Germany lead the open source adoption, with 58 percent and 49 percent respectively, having implemented or planning to implement the software, Forrester stated in the 'Open source software goes mainstream' report. The UK is slightly behind this average, at 40 percent.

The main motivation to move to open source is cost savings, with 56 percent of respondents citing this. The "cost cutting crisis" during the recession should be seen as an opportunity to move to open source, the analyst house said.

And the planned implementation or expansion of open source software in businesses is higher than that of any other technology, including business process management, application lifecycle management and enterprise service buses.

According to Jeffrey S Hammond, principal analyst at Forrester, open source software is the "primary enabler of [open source] tech populism". As more companies use open source, more levels in the IT department will gain a "proactive handle" on managing the technology, it said.

"Banning OSS will become an increasingly untenable option," Hammond wrote. "The net result will reset pricing expectations in development shops and tilt technology selection away from single vendor stacks toward best-of-breed solutions at commodity prices - especially at the lowest levels of the application platform stack."

In spite of this, businesses need to beware of "uncontrolled tactical use" of open source, and instead develop "sound OSS adoption policies", Hammond said. A third of firms said they still have no formal open source policy.

Those working in firms that have not yet adopted open source should argue for it on the basis of the current economic climate, he said.

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