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Survey: Open source is entering the enterprise mainstream

Esther Schindler | May 15, 2008
The survey, collecting data from 328 respondents, showed that more than half the respondents (53 per cent) are using open-source applications in their organization.

One item that may quell the fears of enterprises contemplating open-source solutions: Once you have the software in-house, code quality concerns become far less important. Enterprises that aren't using open source cite code quality as the third-highest issue (after product support and security concerns), but it's number 7 (of 12) for those who have been working with the applications. Once you have your hands on the code, apparently, you discover the situation is better than you imagined.

Open-source developers have somewhat different priorities than do their managers. According to the Evans Data survey, the biggest obstacles to adoption are a corporate preference for proprietary software, lack of device drivers and the need to learn a new set of skills. The quality of support was the biggest obstacle to only 15 percent of developers.

Developers have plenty of reason to pay attention to open source. For example, see Open Source as An Easy Answer for Better Developer Visibility (and Career Opportunity).

Making Open Source Work In-House

About a quarter of corporations (27 percent) have a formal policy in place regarding open-source applications, though 18 percent expect to adopt such a policy in the next 12 months. Of those with open-source policies, 45 percent feel their policies are very effective and 46 percent somewhat so. Presumably, the "somewhat so" respondents are thinking about the amount of open-source software that's been installed by IT staff and developers without company approval; one in five (21 percent) admits to it (often or sometimes).

While more than half of enterprises use open source today, the degree of intimacy with the philosophy varies quite a bit. Companies may often (43 percent) or sometimes (24 percent) treat such applications as, well, just free software; they run the application but don't even look at the source code. Although they can access the source code, it isn't common for enterprise IT departments to use open-source modules in their own code, whether or not they make code changes. For example, 18 percent often use unchanged code modules as though the modules are a free source library, and 36% do so occasionally. Still, half, 49 percent, often or sometimes report bugs or contribute their changes back to the open-source community; 11 percent have open-source committers on their staff.

Once open source was rejected as appropriate for enterprise use. Clearly, that's no longer the situation today.


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