Open-Source Software Use Joins The Mix

Companies in the United States are expected to build out their software architectures this year at a cost of $234 billion

Helen D'Antoni, Contributor

October 30, 2004

3 Min Read

Companies in the United States are expected to build out their software architectures this year at a cost of $234 billion. Prepackaged and customizable commercial software will account for 56% of spending; 37% is spent on internally built software; and custom-developed software supplied by third parties comes to 7% of 2004 spending, according to Forrester Research.

Software Mix, pie chartOpen-source products have gained a firm foothold in many U.S. companies. Low cost of ownership and low to nonexistent licensing fees are helping to drive their use, making open source the ideal answer for companies seeking to increase IT efficiency without incurring substantial overhead costs.

How pervasive is the use of open-source software? InformationWeek Research measured adoption of open-source architecture via an online survey completed by 420 business-technology professionals familiar with their companies' desktop, network, server, or mainframe operating systems.

Two-thirds of companies interviewed use open-source products; another 16% expect to use open source in 2005. Only 17% of the companies surveyed report no near-term plans to support open-source products. Less than 40% of 281 companies using open source described their IT architectures as primarily commercial. Three in five report their environments are a mix of commercial and open-source software. However, a quarter of the 281 sites say that their reliance upon open-source software is growing.

Check the latest open-source developments at For more information on software, visit

Helen D'Antoni
Senior Editor, Research
[email protected]

Risk Assessment, pie chart

Risk Assessment
Does your company view open-source architecture as a business risk?

In general, companies don't view open-source software as risky. It often functions alongside commercial and internally developed software, and because of this acceptance, open-source code is being used more broadly. Its use is evolving as companies look for cost-effective ways to manage software expenses.

Proven Value, pie chartProven Value
How long has your company used open-source software?

The fact that most companies using open-source technology have been long-term users might be why companies generally view open-source software as a sure business proposition. Fifty-eight percent of companies surveyed using open-source products have been doing so for two or more years. Twenty-nine percent have used open source for one to two years. Only 13% of open-source users surveyed report use at a year or less.

Innovative Alternative, bar chartInnovative Alternatives
Does open-source software create more opportunities for innovation than commercial or proprietary software?

Open-source software is believed to create more opportunities for innovation than commercial or proprietary software. Nearly 60% of companies surveyed with annual revenue of $100 million or more back this claim. Even more companies with revenue of less than $100 million agree. Of the 128 small businesses polled, almost three-quarters report open-source software readily promotes more opportunities for IT innovation.

Database Deployed, pie chartDatabase Deployed
Is your company using or considering open-source software in its production databases?

More than two in five of the 281 companies interviewed by InformationWeek Research and using open-source products already are supporting production database operations with open-source software. A third are considering use in production databases. Only a quarter of sites interviewed are keeping their production databases free of open source.

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