Enterprise Linux Log

Oct 29 2007   1:51AM GMT

Open source: The most disruptive influence in IT today


For some it is gospel. To others, it is completely mind-bending and new. Sound familiar? We are talking about how people feel about open source and its future in the enterprise. The fact of the matter is clear: Open source software, Linux included, is quickly becoming the disruptive force in IT. Some would say it has become that already.

The analysts at Westport, Conn.-based Saugatuck Technology have taken a liking to this particular topic, and over the past year have really picked the brains of IT managers to find out what they think about open source in the enterprise. If you’re a fan of the open source drama, keep reading.

Open source surges against the norm
Open source software is not following the adoption and deployment paths that most have predicted, according to the latest Saugatuck report, “Open Source as Disruptive Influence: research Study Highlights.”

“It already accounts for as much as 10% of user business software, far more than previously reported or expected by industry insiders and media reports. Thirty-two per cent of user enterprise executives expect that by 2010, more than half of their key on-premise software will be open-source,” said author Bruce Guptill.

The massive adoption rate is one reason why open source software is rapidly becoming one of the most disruptive influences seen on IT and business – for users and for vendors.

We’ve already reported a bit on how Linux fits into this puzzle. In early January Saugatuck penned a report that said a looming Linux surge in Linux deployments meant that 50% of mission critical operations would be conducted on Linux by 2011.

The surge in Linux deployments can be attributed to two distinct factors, Analyst Bill McNee said at the time. “Part of the surge is not necessarily due to Linux itself, but instead is due to the fact that the entire open source applications stack that sits above Linux is now ready for prime time,” he said. Areas like systems management, the database and the aforementioned Web server are all components McNee said were ready to sit on top of Linux in mission critical environments. The second driver for growth comes at the expense of other operating systems currently handling mission critical loads in the data center. This does not include Microsoft Windows, which will remain strong alongside Linux in mixed-OS settings, McNee said.

Right now, Saugatuck’s Guptill said open source’s key advantages for users derive from its community-driven development model. The bulk of these advantages will stem from the use of open source software in every corner of heterogeneous IT shops. In the long term, looking out to 2010, the greatest open source presence in most enterprises will be as components within vendor and SaaS provider solutions, he said. To get to that point, leading look for leading SaaS providers to partner with, be acquired by or acquire leading open source software providers.

Truly, when Matt Asay over at the Open Road said the laid off AppArmor guys from Novell wouldn’t have trouble finding a windfall in some of the up and coming open source vendors out there, he wasn’t kidding.

Open source surges in three stages
Like a rocket, open source will blast off over the next four years in a series of stages. Liftoff happened a while ago for users, who left vendors in the dust to play catch up. “Stage 1: Early adoption,” was one owned by users and basically shunned by vendors, and the rest of the stages are represented in this handy dandy graph complied by Saugatuck:

Image source: Saugatuck Research 2007.

See? Handy.

No open source free lunch
However, while all those arrows are trending upwards, that’s not going to translate into any open source free rides.

“While open source software can reduce the costs of software acquisition and development, and can reduce development time frames and resource needs, it almost always increases management resource requirements,” Guptill said. “This applies to user enterprises and software vendors – including SaaS providers.”

Open source market impact
“Open source’s presence in user enterprises is far from haphazard or accidental – it is increasingly planned and managed as would any other IT asset,” Guptill said. “This requires resources, and user executives understand that. More than half of user enterprises surveyed by Saugatuck indicate that they are dedicating IT management resources to open source acquisition, implementation and ongoing management.”

Good news is that Saugatuck’s research shows the depth and cost of open source software will not exceed the costs of traditional proprietary software in the enterprise. Good news indeed, considering how prevalent it will be in less than four years.

“While pure-play open source is going to continue to gather significant market share in the coming years – we believe that mixed-source software that incorporates open source to reduce development costs and improve user adoption will become a dominant industry trend.

Key points to take home about this disruptive “new” open source technology:

  • Open source software’s presence will increase from approximately 10 percent of key user enterprise on-premise software in 2007, to between 15 percent and 20 percent by 2010.
  • Through at least 2010, user enterprises will continue to lead most vendors when it comes to understanding the enterprise role and presence of open source software.
  • By 2010, more than 50 percent of SaaS vendors will incorporate open source platforms and systems code into their service delivery models, yielding a margin advantage of at least 10 percent over those with solely proprietary stacks.
  • While the open source LAMP stack (i.e., operating system, middleware, databases and development tools) will lead most user adoption, open source applications and desktop productivity tools will experience some of the highest growth rates through 2010.
  • By 2010, more than 35 percent of new commercial software implementations will include open source components.
  • Current barriers to broader user adoption of open source (security, technology/functionality maturity) will largely be resolved by 2010, although licensing issues will remain a critical management challenge through 2012.
  • By 2012, four or five dominant open source Master Brands (some of whom will come from a traditional IT software heritage) will emerge, that will influence or control at least 30 percent of the open source software marketplace.

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