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More Mainstream Businesses Depend on Open Source

Are you wondering if there's an alternative to this legacy business technology scenario?

May 22, 2014

If you're an executive that's concerned about the high-cost of proprietary software, you're not alone. If your IT team pushes back whenever Line of Business leaders ask them for feature enhancements that goes beyond the limits of the commercial software packages they've licensed, then you already know that frustration.

Are you wondering if there's an alternative to this legacy business technology scenario? Consider Open Source Software (OSS) and follow in the footsteps of the previously enlightened.

North Bridge Venture Partners recently announced the results of the eighth annual investigation into OSS trends. The latest market study findings point toward the increased role that OSS solutions have in today's enterprises.

"Open source is enjoying a proliferation that starts with a growing number of new developers at the grass roots. Many then go on to join enterprises who themselves are engaging in open source projects," said Michael Skok, general partner at North Bridge Venture Partners.

The authors of the survey say that respondents continue to share insights that demonstrate how open source is transforming the software landscape --  as the inherent quality, functionality, and increasingly ease of deployment creates a powerful gravitational pull across all vertical industry categories.

The most exciting forward-looking applications, such as Open Hybrid Cloud services, have an open source foundation at their core. Other leading areas -- such as big data, content management and enterprise mobility -- are being positively advanced by the open source model of applications development.

Exploring the Emerging OSS Market Momentum

Compelling survey responses have highlighted the democratization and proliferation of open source in three broad areas of strategic and tactical impact -- new people, new technologies and new economics.

Impact on New People

Survey results uncover the growth of first-time developers participating in the open source community, and point to both new open source education initiatives and the prevalence of open source-based educational platforms.

In addition, the survey reveals the three industries expected to be impacted most by OSS are education (76 percent), government (67 percent), and health care (45 percent). Results also demonstrate how embedded OSS has become in our social fabric.

Respondents reported the top ten areas OSS will impact our everyday lives including: Education; Mobility; Web privacy/security; Home appliance; Wearable devices; Robotics; Entertainment; Automotive; Gaming and Monetary exchange/payments.

Impact on New Technologies

Open source has long been touted as the foundation for new technological innovations, and as OSS projects grow, so, too, do these new technologies. As data from Black Duck shows, with nearly one million open source projects to date, the rate of innovation spurs new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and the continued rise of Software as a Service (SaaS).

When asked what industries OSS technology was leading, 63 percent cited cloud computing or virtualization as the key area where developers have turned to OSS. In addition, 57 percent answered content management, 52 percent selected mobile technology, and 51 percent answered security.

Impact on New Economics

56 percent of corporations expect to contribute to more open source projects in 2014, signaling a change in the way enterprises view open source. When asked why they engaged with OSS communities, cost reduction was still the top response (61 percent), but 45 percent of corporations responded that they also did so to gain competitive advantage.

For companies with over 1,000 employees, influencing a project’s direction was the third most popular answer. Finding and recruiting talent fell from the number two reason to engage with communities in 2013 to the number five answer this year, with only 37 percent choosing that as the top reason.

This may be the result of OSS experience becoming a price-of-entry rather than a distinguishing factor.

Additional Findings from the latest study include:

  • 72 percent of respondents chose to use OSS because of it provides stronger security than proprietary solutions, signaling a growing awareness that the proper management and use of OSS actually provides an even more secure environment than proprietary solutions. Building upon this, 80 percent of respondents reported choosing open source because of its quality over proprietary alternatives.
  • 68 percent of respondents said that OSS helped improve efficiency and lower costs, and 55 percent also indicated that OSS helped create new products and services, further supporting the idea of OSS as both an entrenched and a strategic element of today’s enterprises.
  • 50 percent of enterprises report openly contributing to and adopting open source, signaling a shift in the way organizations view the value of and their role in making contributions to the community.

More than 1,200 industry influencers took this year's survey, answering questions about OSS trends, opportunities, key drivers of open source adoption, community engagement and the business problems OSS solves -- both now and in the foreseeable future.

More Stories By David H Deans

David H. Deans is the Managing Director at the GeoActive Group. He has more than 25 years of experience in the Technology, Media and Telecom sectors.

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