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March 25, 2009

Survey Identifies Growing Opportunities for Open Source in Tough Economy

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor


A panel of top experts in the commercial open source industry, including executives from Acquia, Novell (News - Alert), Mozilla, Sun Microsystems and SugarCRM, came together at a recent industry event to announce the results of the North Bridge Venture Partners’ annual “Future of Open Source” survey.

Collected from 435 respondents, the survey results highlighted a variety of significant issues and topics around open source software including the impact of the economic recession, key market drivers and predictions regarding the types of companies that are expected to drive the next wave of success in commercial open source.
 
"Open source software is becoming increasingly mainstream even at the enterprise level," said Tom Erickson, Acquia chairman and chief executive officer, in a Wednesday statement. "As an increasing number of companies emerge to provide commercial level support, we'll see the continued growth of open source software in the enterprise."

"What the survey shows is that customer motivations for adopting open source are clearly accelerated by the economic crisis. For organizations actively adopting open source solutions, lower costs, better quality and simpler maintenance have resulted in measurable ROI and rapid payback," said Michael J. Skok, general partner at North Bridge Venture Partners.

"Disruptive business models are maturing in large markets like Web Content Management and Social Publishing, making it an attractive investment area for the team at North Bridge. However what the survey also shows is that much work remains to evangelize these benefits and establish a credible ecosystem to bring open source solutions to mainstream IT buyers."

The 2009 Future of Open Source Survey revealed that 96 percent of respondents believe that the economy’s turbulence is good for open source software, an increase from 81 percent in 2008. Nearly 80 percent of respondents expect that open source software will make up more than 25 percent of the software purchased in their organization.

According to survey respondents, the top four factors that make open source software attractive include lower acquisition and maintenance costs; superior security; freedom from vendor lock-in; and better quality software.

There are sectors in the overall market that are expected to be the most susceptible to disruption by open source software in the next five years. These sectors include database, operating systems, business intelligence and web content management.

Those sectors that are expected to be least susceptible to disruption by open source software in the next five years include: office productivity, security tools, and ERP/CRM.

The survey also examined perceived barriers to the selection and adoption of open source software. To top three barriers listed by respondents included unfamiliarity with open source solutions, lack of internal technical skills and a lack of formal commercial vendor support.

At the same time, respondents identified business strategies such as subscription based technical support and professional services and consulting that would create the most value for open source vendors.

Vendors operating in the open source space have a unique advantage in this current market as companies still need specific solutions to be able to effectively compete, yet lack all the necessary resources to make it happen. With open source options, these companies can take advantage of the solutions they need without significant investments or commitments to one single provider.


Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi




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