August 06, 2010, 1:28 PM — While Microsoft and friends are doing their best to hide Linux and open-source software from the public, businesses have been adopting Linux and open-source faster than ever. That's not the opinion of FOSS (free and open-source software) fans. That's what Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company with no particular love for FOSS found in its survey of 300 large private and public organizations.
Accenture "found that half of the respondents (50 percent) are fully committed to open source in their business while almost a third (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."
In short, to quote, Accenture's chief technology architect Paul Daugherty, "What we are seeing is the coming of age of open source. 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."
I could have told you that, but I think it carries more weight coming from someone like Daugherty who has no stake in Linux or open source. Mind you, since Accenture surveyed businesses and organizations that have annual revenues of more than $500-million, the company is moving into offering open-source services now as fast as it can.
What I found especially interesting about this survey is that while cost savings was a major reason for enterprises to use FOSS, the top reasons were overall quality and improved reliability. So much for the argument that Linux and open source are only used by customers looking to save a buck without regard to quality!
There are, though, other things that are still slowing down businesses' open-source conversion. Peter Vescuso, executive VP of marketing and business development for Black Duck Software, a company specializing in managing open source legal issues for businesses, commented on the Accenture study saying that a "Lack of senior management support and awareness is the main barrier. .... Once senior management becomes aware and accepts the fact that OSS plays a crucial role in the development process, the next logical step is to develop policies for usage, licensing, monitoring, reporting and contributing back to the community."
I think Vescuso is right. While management has learned about the value of open source, they still need more education about how open-source development and communities work. As they do so, and they are going to, FOSS will be picked up even more quickly in big business IT departments.