Forrester Study About Open Source’s Role in Corporate Environment

Three weeks ago Unisys published a Forrester study regarding the use of Open Source in corporate environments. One notable result is that not only costs but also “added value” are reasons for strong adoption of Open Source Software.

Forrester asked around 500 corporate IT people about their experiences with Open Source Software. You can find Unisys’s summary here, the study can be downloaded as a PDF file.

The key results are that Open Source software is often used in mission critical applications and that not only the cost savings are driving the acceptance but also the use of code without restrictions and the open standards. On the other side, most IT people do have stomachache when they think about the support options. To me that is a clear sign that Red Hat, Sun and Novell don’t make their jobs very well, btw.

But the rest of the study is also worth a read. And since it covers only 17 pages with colourful graphics and a big font size you can quickly go through it 😉
Here are some additional points which caught my attention:

  • Supporting open standards, using without restriction and no-vendor lock-in are much more important than the price!
  • Viewing/Modifying the source code is as unimportant as creating and distributing derivative work. No surprises there, they are not software vendors.
  • The companies clearly don’t want to participate with the community. So you shouldn’t mention that possibility as a key point whenever you sell OSS.
  • Security concerns are roughly fifty-fifty: 50% think OSS is more likely to be insecure because of the open source code, and 50% don’t think that. Old habits die hard…
  • Many other concerns (maturity, complexity, business orientation) are also fifty-fifty. Is that a sign of a turnaround in these days? And if yes, where to?
  • Despite all efforts of Microsoft, TCO is not a concern of the most people. Hardly a third do see this as a concern.
  • They want support in all ways (maintenance, integration with closed source software, consulting, life cycles, etc.).
  • Only half of them want legal support, and they don’t fear problems in that area anyway.
  • OSS is used in almost any branch: server, database, network infrastructure, development.
  • OSS is hardly used as the Desktop OS.
  • The IT people see OSS as a key in consolidating IT infrastructure and improving the IT efficiency.
  • Most of the asked people do not see direct business effects since that is more a question of they way how you use software and manage processes than of the licence of the software.
  • The most important capability of an OSS vendor are the OSS skills – second is the competitive price.
  • A vendor needs to have customer references and integration skills as well.

Nice overview – and it gives a pretty clear impression: there is a strong demand for Open Source service providers which are able to support the used applications and who are able to integrate them with other applications as well.
And the people do not really care about legal stuff (which Microsoft talks about all the time) and they do not care about the community itself (in the way of participating).

As usual: this is a study, therefore you should keep an eye at the numbers, at the details and especially at the details which are missing. In this case the number of asked IT people is relevant:

In order to get the most valid data possible, only companies that indicated that they had at least evaluated open source software were included. […]
In this sample, 59.1% of the respondents were currently using open source (49.6%), currently piloting open source (5.8%), or planning to pilot open source (3.7%). Only 26.8% of the sample had no plans whatsoever to use open source.

Also I wonder if everyone using Open Source Software really know that he/she does. There are several enterprise products around where you might not know that it is OSS.


2 thoughts on “Forrester Study About Open Source’s Role in Corporate Environment”

  1. Thanks for the interesting read. I’m grateful for the PDF as well. I’ve been discussing open source with colleagues. I’m a Ubuntu desktop (at home) user. At work in a K12 school district we have a DHCP server, Linux terminal server, Lotus Domino Mail Server, intranet server, NAS unit and spam filter all running varieties of Linux and all very stable.

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