Investment in Open Source Software Set to Rise

Quality overtakes cost as primary adoption driver, Accenture survey finds

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New York — August 23, 2010 — The open source software market has reached a turning point, with organizations in the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland now committing to clear strategies and policies for open source software development, according to the findings of a survey released today by consulting firm Accenture.

Wikipedia defines "open source software" as "computer software that is available in source code form for which the source code and certain other rights normally reserved for copyright holders are provided under a software license that permits users to study, change, and improve the software." Examples of enterprise-class open source software in the supply chain industry include Coupa's e-procurement offering and ERP software from Compiere and xTuple.

The survey of 300 large organizations in both the private and public sector found that more than two-thirds of companies (69 percent) anticipate increased investment in open source software development in 2010, with more than a third (38 percent) expecting to migrate mission-critical software to open source in the next 12 months.

In addition, half of the respondents (50 percent) are fully committed to open source in their business while just over a quarter (28 percent) say they are experimenting with open source and keeping an open mind to using it. Furthermore, two-thirds of all respondents (65 percent) noted that they have a fully documented strategic approach for using open source in their business, while another third (32 percent) are developing a strategic plan.

Of the organizations using open source, almost nine out of ten (88 percent) will increase their investment in the software in 2010 compared to 2009, according to the survey results.

Key Benefits

When it comes to the benefits of open source, the cost was no longer viewed as the key benefit, with respondents focusing instead on other aspects:

  • 76 percent of respondents in the UK and US cited quality as a key benefit of open source.
  • Two-thirds overall (71 percent) cited improved reliability.
  • Better security/bug fixing was cited by nearly as many (70 percent) across both countries.

"What we are seeing is the coming of age of open source," said Paul Daugherty, chief technology architect at Accenture. "Through both our research and our work with clients, we are seeing an increase in demand for open source based on quality, reliability and speed, not just cost savings."

Daugherty added that this represented a significant change from just two years ago, when uptake was driven mainly by cost savings. "We can expect to see this trend develop as open source continues to evolve and address even more business critical functions," he said.

Cost Control

Although cost savings are not the primary driver for open source adoption, half of the respondents (50 percent) do cite open source as contributing to an overall lower total cost of ownership. When asked about the greatest cost savings in open source, the vast majority of organizations surveyed believe they can be made on software maintenance costs (71 percent), initial software development time (33 percent) and initial development costs (33 percent).

Accenture believes that the volume of open source software development is set to rise over the next three years. In 2009, 20 percent of software developments were in open source. This is expected to rise marginally to 23 percent in 2010 and to 27 percent by 2013.

One notable finding from the survey, however, is that less than a third (29 percent) are willing to contribute their own solutions back to the community.

Roadblocks to Adoption

Despite a very encouraging picture, some organizations still remain hesitant. The biggest challenge, mentioned by 35 percent of all companies, is still around training developers how to use open source.

Furthermore, lack of senior management support appears to be a key reason given for not using open source software among organizations that have looked at it but ultimately chosen not to use it. Those yet to make the transition to open source also cite insufficient open source alternatives compared to proprietary software suites that would enable them to use open source confidently across their business.

"We are seeing strong momentum and commitment to move further along with open source," said Daugherty. "The current wave of companies adopting open source are experiencing strong benefits, however there are still organizations hesitant about the shared community model. As open source software is used in more critical business functions the next step will be for organizations to decide whether to actively contribute back to the community."

More industry-specific information from the survey is available here, where geography-specific information can be found here. More information about Accenture's open source software capabilities is available here.