Competition, Cost Driving Open Source Software Growth: Gartner

By Jennifer Lawinski  |  Print this article Print

Open-source software is becoming more popular in companies as they seek to gain a competitive advantage while cutting costs, Gartner finds.

More than half of the organizations that participated in a recent survey say that open-source software solutions are a part of their IT strategy, research firm Gartner finds. 

And nearly one-third of respondents say its flexibility, increased innovation, shorter development times and faster procurement processes are the reasons behind their interest in open-source software (OSS). Gartner surveyed 547 IT leaders from companies in 11 countries between July and August 2010 to assess OSS adoption and usage.

About one in five organizations -- 22 percent -- were utilizing OSS across all departments, but 46 percent had implemented OSS solutions in specific departments or in specific projects. Twenty-one percent said they were evaluating OSS options.

Despite the interest, however, only one-third of the companies that responded say they have an OSS policy in place, Gartner says.

"Gaining a competitive advantage has emerged as a significant reason for adopting an OSS solution, suggesting that users are beginning to look at OSS differently — if they can customize the code to make it unique to their company, they have created a competitive advantage," Laurie Wurster, research director at Gartner, said in a statement.

"As external service providers emerge to support commercial offerings, OSS is and will continue to be used in both non-mission-critical and mission-critical environments," she said. "With greater in-depth understanding and access to the necessary skill sets, end-user organizations will continue to find new deployment of OSS. Although a search for reducing costs by adopting OSS continues to be a major driver, with this survey we see more respondents looking at OSS as having much-greater value than simply getting something for free."

Companies surveyed were using OSS solutions for data management and integration, application development, integration, architecture, governance and/or overhaul. Business process improvement and re-engineering and security and risk compliance, data center consolidation and virtualization were also areas where IT was leveraging OSS solutions.

Gartner has found that OSS has become more common in organizations, growing from less than 10 percent adoption five years ago to about 30 percent in the next 18 months. Internally-built software usage has also increased. Proprietary software usage has decreased in the past five years at the same rate at which companies are using OSS.