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Blog: Open Source in the Enterprise

Blog: Open Source in the Enterprise

There's more open source in the enterprise than most people think. And there's data to back that up. Two weeks ago, at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention, O'Reilly Radar released a Report, written by me in partnership with O'Reilly Research titled "Open Source in the Enterprise."

The report draws on experience in consulting engagements with enterprises throughout the world, as well as research, interviews and innovative data mining techniques to describe how enterprises are leveraging open source software in support of their business goals. Based on this data, the report identified the following findings:

  • There are six key drivers for enterprise open source adoption
  • Employment of open source skilled personnel is surprisingly high, representing approximately 5 per cent of all US large enterprise IT hiring over the past three years
  • Enterprises need to create open source action plans to gain the most benefit from open source opportunities; these plans will vary according to the enterprise's sophistication level with and experience with open source

Enterprise Open Source Adoption Drivers

Based on work with many large enterprises, in combination with interviews and research, we identified six key drivers that motivate enterprises to adopt open source. While no enterprise leverages all six drivers, all pursue one or more of these factors as part of their open source strategy:

  • Agility and Scale: The ability to quickly grow and modify software systems to respond to rapidly changing business conditions
  • Breaking Vendor Lock-in: Reducing proprietary vendor dependence and controlling enterprise IT architectures
  • Quality and Security: Improving the operations of enterprise infrastructure by leveraging open source characteristics of transparency and rapid improvement
  • Cost: Reducing overall IT operational costs by implementing free or low-cost open source software
  • Sovereignty: Reducing dependence upon US-based software companies for local economic development and national sovereignty reasons
  • Innovation: Using open source to create new business offerings or creating open source products to reduce operational costs and make new offerings less expensive to bring to market

Even though all enterprises find these factors relevant in their open source efforts, questions are often raised about the penetration of open source in enterprises. Indeed, if you read a recent comment to one of my postings here on CIO, you'll recognize that many people assert that no open source is being used in their organization. While it can be emotionally satisfying to take emotional potshots at people whilst arguing about how important open source is to large enterprises, that is hardly convincing evidence of how much open source is actually present in enterprise IT infrastructures. Accordingly, we set out to see if there was some way to identify some hard numbers about open source use. The method we pursued was to examine large enterprise job postings, to see how many open source jobs are available. If you'd like to see what our rather surprising conclusions about enterprise open source adoption are, read on.

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