Harnessing the power of open-source software in your organisation can reset the economics of information technology. Many CXOs (CIO, COO, CFO, CEO, etc) may not think that they’re using open-source software in their enterprises. But the truth is, most businesses today are already running open-source software somewhere within the organisation — and in many of these companies, it’s being used quite broadly.
Consumers continue to cite cost savings as a key driver for adopting open source software, particularly given the current economy – but what else is driving open source? 451 Group conducted a market analysis survey focused on innovation in enterprise IT and a number of findings and implications are revealed. Economic conditions and the need to save money are driving increased interest in open source software, at least among those that have already adopted open source to some extent. Lowering cost is still the top reason organisations choose open source software, but flexibility is now cited as the biggest post-adoption benefit.
But cost savings aren’t the only reason why enterprises are opting for an open-source approach. The decision to go with open source delivers a wide variety of benefits: Earlier access to technology – Open source products are available without barriers and provide access to source code, enabling developers in enterprises to bring in open-source solutions to meet business requirements at minimal cost. Because the software can be downloaded and used immediately and without obligation, organisations can often prototype or even build working systems in the time it normally would take to write an RFP and negotiate a proprietary license. Speed to innovation – By utilizing open source’s momentum, technology can evolve rapidly. Open source makes it easy to combine projects, enabling developers to deliver robust products and services that much faster, as it represents an express lane to sharing and spreading technological expertise that can function as a base and amplifier for further studies and development. Open source enables developers to innovate around the work of others, which shortens development cycles. Easy of deployment – Unlike proprietary (closed source) software, which often supports hundreds of rarely used features, open-source software generally provides only the essential capabilities, which makes deployment and eventually support, much easier. Most mature open-source software now comes with easy-to-use installation software, graphical management tools and online help. Freedom from platform lock-in – Open-source software is typically available on dozens of platforms, so enterprises can choose the most economical combination of hardware and software for their needs. Open source also helps ensure that all those participating in the community develop from the same base technology. Developers have ready access to source code and to critical data, giving them a high degree of flexibility and preventing lock-in to a single company or platform.
When considering the support of open source software, there are often more options than with proprietary software, although they are not always as mature as proprietary software support options. Support for proprietary software is generally provided by a single vendor and as the sole provider, the vendor sets the pricing. With open source, the opportunities for support depend, to a large extent, on the relative popularity of specific open source software. The more popular software typically has a greater range of support options available from a number of sources.