Enterprise Linux Log

Jul 23 2008   9:17PM GMT

Surprise! Open source is growing fast, report concludes

Don Rosenburg Profile: Dkr

This probably comes as no surprise to faithful Enterprise Linux Log readers, but the use of open source software grew at a whopping 55% a year. No kidding. That figure is courtesy of a study by well-known Linux author and consultant Bernard Golden, CEO of San Carlos, Calif.-based Navica Inc. for O’Reilly Media and released this week during the ongoing OSCON convention in Portland, Ore.

The 47-page Open Source in the Enterprise report based its growth SourceForge.net’s estimates on the number of open source software downloads, which, according to the site, grew from 12,500 to nearly 200,000 between 2000 and 2007 and are predicted to grow to 1 billion or more annually over the next year or two, according to the report.

Although admittedly imprecise, another growth indicator is an estimate that open source skills are requested in 5% to 15% of open IT jobs. According to a federal government study, 2.3% of jobs in large enterprises are IT related and 1.3% or more than half of all IT jobs involve open source to some extent, although both totals are higher than average in technology companies, the study concluded.

The O’Reilly Media report also found that, although only about half of the businesses queried knew they were using open source software in the enterprise, in fact, nearly all of them were using open source products in one form or another, sparking the need for an action plan to deal with it, the report said.

Despite company concerns that open source is risky without vendor support, open source use has grown because of its relative low cost, easy access and great licensing terms, all of which add up to a compelling value proposition, Golden wrote.

There are six key drivers for open source adoption including agility and scalability, breaking vendor lock-in, quality, security, low cost, national sovereignty/independence issues and innovation, he said.

Open source drivers
To cite a few examples, San Francisco-based Coverity Inc. found the Linux kernel averaged 0.17 bugs per thousand lines of code compared wwith a Carnegie Mellon study that detected 30 to 40 bugs per thousand in commercial software.

Open source also fosters innovation by spreading the cost of research and development and enlisting assistance from the broader open source community. For example, JP Morgan Chase began work on what is now called Advanced Messaging Queuing Protocol (AMQP) with the goal of speeding transaction processing times for financial institutions but decided to open the project to others and forgo intellectual property rights in order to save development and software costs.

Available for download from the O’Reilly Web site, the report is probably more helpful to a company considering open source adoption rather than one than is an open source evangelist. The only thing is: a billion downloads from SourceForge by this year or next? Seems like a stretch to me. And, by the way, the report may be downloadable and concern open source — but it’s not free.

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