Survey Shows Open Source Making Headway In Enterprise


A recent survey of advanced technology companies indicates that Open Source software is becoming an explicit component in enterprise Information Technology (IT) strategy and architecture. Some nine out of ten respondents include Open Source in their planning, according to CATAAlliance, which depicts itself as “Canada's leading, most influential and entrepreneurial technology alliance.”

It offered these details on the survey:

"Open" Source differs from traditional commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products in terms of intellectual property ownership, which has significant implications in the design of commercial revenue streams, and overall software development methodology.

CATAAlliance surveyed Canadian IT decision-maker perceptions of open source software and its applicability to their organizations, in terms of:

--Managing strategic change and competitiveness over time.

--Integration of new technologies into complex, heterogeneous environments.

--Return on Investment (ROI) in a portfolio context.

"We are pleased to be able to facilitate quick industry temperature check which reflects topical, full and fair input from the community," said Ms. Lotz-Turner.

Among the survey’s findings:

Open source is becoming an explicit component in enterprise IT strategy and architecture. Only 13% of respondents do not include open source in their strategy. The majority acknowledged open source as both an:

--Implicit component such as a default option for the web, e.g. Apache (55%) or part of commercial hardware or software (30%)

--Explicit component such as open source business applications (50%) or custom in-house code (51%), for the purposes of both middleware/interoperability and business solution functionality.

--Almost half of respondents have defined formal policies and practices for both internal open source development , and only a quarter for external sharing back to the open community.

The maturity levels of open source for enterprise use are perceived to be:

--High for web (server, development, browser), database, and directory.

--Medium for application servers, operating systems, desktop productivity applications.

--Low for enterprise software (ERP, CRM), collaborative software etc.

The ease of introducing open source given current installed (COTS) bases was considered to be:

--Very easy for the Web

--More challenging for mainframe operating systems

--Very difficult for desktop productivity solutions.

"Perceived difficulty of open source introduction was directly correlated to size of current installed base," said Anne Lotz-Turner. The key overall decision criteria in making strategic and architectural decisions were identified as, in order of priority: 1. Reliability, 2. Performance, 3. Price, 4. Security, 5. Interoperability.

Recommendations by respondents for other IT decision-makers included advice to:

--Assess total cost of ownership over a 3-5 year period (support, training, etc) and availability of skilled resources and support.

--Evaluate product maturity (some are not ready for prime time) and establish project specific criteria as well.

--Establish formal policies for use and development (understanding of licensing, organizational fit in terms of openness and sharing, clear policies and procedures).

--Don't under-estimate the change process, and make sure you have people with strong skills in open source.

--Don't under-estimate the opportunities of open source. Start to get in the game now.

"Open source can provide a compelling value proposition, but organizations with a large installed base, need to know what they want to achieve and pick their spots carefully to get early and significant value," said Anne Lotz-Turner.

Sixty per cent of respondents were executive level (CIO, CTO, VP). Three out of four companies represented the Small or Medium-Sized Enterprise community.

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