Open Source: What Companies Are Deploying NowBy Allan Alter | Posted 05-14-2007
Linus Torvalds, Eric S. Raymond and other visionaries of the open source movement, take a bow. Your dreama thriving ecosystem of freely improvable, freely available softwarehas become a reality. Linux, the flagship technology of the movement, is well beyond the trial stage: A CIO Insight study of 90 companies with revenues below $500 million finds that 90 percent will use Linux by the end of 2007. Most companies that use Linux plan to expand its use, and are building applications to run on the operating system. What's more, Apache, Firefox, and a broad range of other open source Web and application tools, database systems and development tools are also taking hold. These products are proving so successful at lowering costs and meeting corporate requirements for flexibility, integration and security that four of five companies plan to expand their use, too. Look below for information on Linux and turn the page for additional data on which open source technologies are being adopted, why, and what concerns remain.
Linux Use is Rising
Of those using Linux, 67% commonly or ubiqutiously use it as a server operating system, but only 23% do as a desktop operating system.
Open Source Software is Becoming Entrenched in Small to Mid-size Businesses
Open source is not synonymous with Linux, and its use isn't limited to the Apache Web server and the Firefox browser. Many SMBs have deployed other kinds of open source software, including database systems, middleware and programming languages. This year, companies are spending, on average, more than half a million dollars to install and maintain open source systems, widening open source adoption to include virtualization software, wikis and business intelligence applications. But perhaps the most significant sign of the depth of open source adoption is that nearly half of SMBs have adopted a full-fledged open source architecture. Open source is not just a trend; it's a permanent presence.
Low Cost, Low Perceived Risk is Driving Open Source Adoption
For many SMBs, the opportunity for free or low-cost software is proving irresistable; very few say open source is proving to be a disappointment there. But the growth in open source would stall if the risks outweighed the gains. So it's important that the main concerns with open source aren't issues like quality, security, stability or legal challengesproblems over which CIOs have little controlbut more manageable concerns like compatibility, user acceptance, vendor support and training. And since the experience with open source is proving so positive, vendor support is no longer as great an issue as it has been in previous years. There are no major obstacles to derail the Open Source Express.
Open Source is Redefining What it Means to Work in IT
Open source isn't just a kind of software, but a way of working. And developers and IT staff at small and mid-size companies are embracing that aspect of open source, too. Nearly all CIOs at SMBs allow their staff to participate in open source projects; many also follow the open source model to develop their own software. In general, however, SMBs don't collaborate with other companies in their industry to develop open source applications that might serve them all. That percentage will rise if larger, industry-leading corporations begin to do s0, and ask their partners and Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers to take part.