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Open Source Software is “coming of age”: Accenture

A new survey by management consultants Accenture has shown that Open Source Software (OSS) has reached what the firm describes as a ‘turning point’ in the corporate sector…

This article originally appeared in issue 91 of Linux User & Developer magazine.

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The survey of managers at 300 large public and private sector organisations in the US, UK and Ireland revealed that 69 percent of respondents anticipate increasing their investment in OSS during 2010, with 38 percent expecting to migrate mission-critical software to open source in the next twelve months.

Showing how seriously OSS is now being taken at management level, nearly two thirds of the respondents said that their organisations now have a documented strategy for open source adoption with the remaining 32 percent currently developing a strategic plan.

Whilst previous Accenture research had found early corporate adoption of OSS to be driven by expected cost savings, this survey showed that cost was no longer the key driver behind increased OSS usage. 76 percent of respondents in the UK and US cited quality as a key benefit of open source. Overall 70 percent of those surveyed cited improved reliability and 69 percent specified better security and bug fixing as reasons for choosing open source. This compared against the still significant 50 percent of respondents who saw lower cost of ownership as a key benefit of using OSS.

Accenture themselves were downbeat about the finding that 29 percent of respondents were willing to contribute their own code back to the community. However, even at this level, 29 percent of the corporate sector contributing back to open source projects would almost certainly still represent a massive increase in new participation. It is also likely that many inexperienced corporate OSS users may not yet be aware of the hidden costs of maintaining and refactoring their own proprietary tweaks and developments in parallel with an evolving OSS product.

Looking at challenges to the adoption of open source, 35 percent cited the cost of retraining developers. The survey also found a lack of senior management support to be a common barrier to OSS progressing from evaluation to implementation within the enterprise.

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