Future of Open Source Survey Suggests Disruptive Trend

By | May 31, 2013

Open source platforms are gaining increased attention in the enterprise IT sector. According to the seventh annual Future of Open Source Survey, proliferation of this computing culture is influencing everything from innovation and collaboration to cost reductions and hiring practices.

Many midsize IT managers hoping for a way around costly licensing fees and issues such as vendor lock-in adopt open source technology instead of propriety alternatives.

Future of Open Source

800 individuals working in enterprise IT responded to the survey conducted by IT consulting firms North Bridge Venture Partners and Black Duck Software. Respondents were polled about key drivers of open source adoption and open source trends, as well as benefits of open source technology in the future.

According to PCWorld, the Future of Open Source Survey suggests improved quality of the end product developed using open-source technologies is the biggest motivating factor behind higher open-source adoption. Freedom from issues with close-source technologies - such as vendor lock-in that often limits innovation - are further encouraging businesses to opt for open alternatives, although vendors offer support for proprietary software, which often is limited with open-source software.

Moving forward, 61 percent of respondents believed open source will spur innovation, while 57 percent believed open source culture will increase collaboration among competitors in industry-specific communities over the next three years. Around 48 percent said the technology will increase collaborative partnerships in general. In addition, preferences for open source have also changed in recent years, and enterprises now see benefits of the technology beyond being just a low-cost alternative to proprietary software.

Top factors that will encourage businesses to use the technology include big data, business analytics, security, and system integration. Apart from the business sector, government, health, and media sectors will also increasingly adopt open source technologies in the near future.

Disrupting the Software World

Although closed-source providers offer business-ready products, open-source technologies often need support and customization to work as per specific business requirements before being deployed to existing IT infrastructure. Some third-party vendors offer a variety of products and service tiers for the same purpose, but in the complex world of enterprise IT, one size doesn't necessarily fit all. Midsize IT professionals inevitably end up having to tweak the open-source platforms beyond vendor specifications to improve integration with in-house systems.

Unlike closed-source software technologies, open-source vendors provide a code base that acts as a starting point for IT personnel. This gives even small and midsize IT the opportunity to innovate custom software products with limited expenses.

Small and midsize firms, even more so than their larger counterparts, often require scaling up and down depending on varying customer demand and business needs, and open-source technologies very often allow businesses the flexibility required to do so. For this reason alone, Michael Skok, general partner at North Bridge Venture Partners believes "open source is eating the software world."

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business  program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise, and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on  Facebook. Follow us on  Twitter.

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