Open Source Software Popularity Is Skyrocketing
The next stage in technology will result from collaboration, not competition, according to many who support the concepts behind the open source movement. Once the purview of IT outliers, open source has now infiltrated just about every aspect of technology and according to a recent survey, is driving the innovation that will define tomorrow's business applications.
Software maker Sonatype recently released their annual Open Source Software Development Survey, and while the results should be viewed with the understanding that this is a company that provides open source solutions, they are still fairly astounding. According to this PC World article, 80 percent of respondents claim to use open source tools and almost 70 percent contribute to open source projects.
These numbers may be surprising to some, but in reality, open source solutions have been invading IT departments for years. Over time, certain solutions just need a community approach to get it right, and those solutions end up blossoming into tools that just about any IT department can use. Even major IT players like Microsoft are now getting into the open source act, a sure sign that this movement is here to stay.
Of course, the growth of open source software isn't without its pitfalls. The survey also found that less than half of respondents have some sort of open source policy in place and less than a third maintained records to track components and their dependencies. Apparently, too often the openness of the tools allows IT departments to forego certain software management protocols, but that's an issue easily solved by assertive IT managers.
Numbers in a survey are one thing, but it's quite another to see the benefits that open source software can bring. Midsize businesses are in an ideal situation to take advantage of this kind of solution, not only because most of the open source solutions out there are targeted with them in mind, but also because these types of products are ideal for businesses with limited IT budgets.
One such success story, highlighting both sides of the open source story, is SugarCRM. As detailed in this InfoWorld article, the open source CRM company has experienced 10 quarters of strong growth and will announce the latest version of its software, Sugar 6.5, at the upcoming SugarCon conference. The company claims that around 80,000 organizations around the world use its software and thousands of developers help make the software better on a daily basis, a testament to the types of developer communities that can spring up around a popular product.
On the flip side of the coin, Sugar 6.5 also takes advantage of other open source products. The offering includes an integrated Lucene search engine, which will help customers by providing a search experience similar to what they experience on the web. Of course, with the software's open source framework, clients can also choose to use alternative search software.
In the end, open source solutions are not only here to stay, but with the added benefits that a community of interested developers can provide, this kind of software is poised to become the engine that runs the business IT world of tomorrow. IT managers at midsize businesses looking at new solutions for the businesses or creating their own solutions to sell to customers need to give open source standards a good, hard look.
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.