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2/9/2011
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Open Source Approaching 30% Of Enterprise Software

Flexibility, increased innovation, shorter development times, and faster procurement processes cited as top reasons for using open source options, reports Gartner.

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Open source software continues to gain traction in the enterprise, with more than half the respondents in a recent survey saying they've adopted such software as part of their IT strategy, according to a new Gartner study.

During the past five years, businesses have extended their adoption of open source software (OSS), typically at the expense of proprietary software, according to Gartner research. Five years ago, open source accounted for less than 10% of an organization's software portfolio, but is expected to represent more than 30% within the next 18 months, the research firm said. Simultaneously, internally developed software use has increased, suggesting OSS now is often used in conjunction with software created in-house, not as a total replacement of custom-written software, Gartner said.

Yet despite the growing popularity of open source, only one-third of poll participants had a formal OSS policy in place, the report said. Flexibility, increased innovation, shorter development times, and faster procurement processes were the reasons driving adoption, with almost one-third of respondents citing these reasons as motivators for adoption.

"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," said Laurie Wurster, research director at Gartner, in a statement. "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."

In the study, 22% adopted OSS consistently in all departments across a company, while 46% used OSS in specific departments and on specific projects, Wurster said. Open source use is expected to continue growing, as 21% of respondents said they are in the process of evaluating the advantages of OSS, she said.

"Based on these results, we see that OSS components and building blocks are utilized together with internally developed software to augment and enhance existing systems through integration and automation, as well as to improve business efficiencies and security," said Bob Igou, research director at Gartner.

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