Survey: Two Thirds of Enterprises Entertain Open-Source Solutions

While two thirds of enterprise companies have some degree of interest in open-source, far fewer indicate its adoption is a high priority, according to a Forrester survey of 2,252 software decision-makers.

Open-source advocates may not consider enterprise adoption to be the holy grail of the distribution model's success, but acceptance among large companies has several significant benefits.

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Those proponents may be glad to learn that, according to a Forrester survey, two thirds of enterprise decision makers have some degree of interest in using open-source, either in operating systems (such as Linux) or in another role. But the survey also found that relatively few large companies view open-source as a must-have.

For its survey, Forrester solicited opinions from 2,252 North American and European software decision-makers, 45% of whom were from large enterprises.

Forrester analysts Michael Gould, John Rymer and David D'Silva write in a report about the survey that "open source is not a high priority among strategic software initiatives, appearing to be more of a tactic for achieving the high-priority initiatives."

For two in five enterprises (41%), expanding use of open source software was "not on our agenda." Only 23% identified open-source adoption as a priority or critical priority.

Instead, major software technology initiatives identified by survey respondents include implementation of enterprise collaboration strategies, Web 2.0 technologies (such as blogs, wikis, and RSS) and SOA. However, that doesn't mean bad news for open-source solutions; there are capable open source alternatives in each of those areas, and Forrester advises enterprise decision-makers to consider them.

The authors note that barriers to open source adoption for Linux and other open source software remain constant and include service and support as well as security concerns.

"Among the firms that indicated that they are either planning to pilot or are currently piloting open source software other than Linux, 79% expressed concerns about the availability of service and support for the software," says the report. Plus, 88% have concerns about the security of the software. "This is even higher than we've seen in the past, although the methodologies aren't directly comparable," write the authors.

It's difficult to compare these percentage to previous years' data. Past Forrester surveys asked about adoption of Linux and all other open source software as a single entity, according to the report.

"Interest as well as production use was high-in the 30% to 40% range," the authors write. "This year's survey gave respondents the opportunity to comment on their adoption of open source software separately from Linux, and the results show that the various Linux distributions account for a large portion of production deployment."

The major barriers to adoption for Linux and other open source software are service and support as well as security concerns. "Among the firms that indicated that they are either planning to pilot or are currently piloting open source software other than Linux, 79% expressed concerns about the availability of service and support for the software," says the report. Plus, 88% have concerns about the security of the software. "This is even higher than we've seen in the past, although the methodologies aren't directly comparable," write the authors.

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