Investment in open source software will only go up from here

U.S. and U.K. companies and agencies cite quality, not cost, as the primary reason.

This year could be of critical importance to the open source software industry, with a recent survey showing a majority of businesses and organizations in the U.S. and United Kingdom expecting to increase investment in it this year.Accenture also showed that nearly 40 percent of those queried also planned to migrate critical operations to open source systems in the next 12 months.

A survey by

PDF here), and in Accenture's report that breaks the responses down by industry (PDF here). But the takeaway is this: Open Source Software is an idea whose time has come. Just the idea that so many people cited quality rather than cost as the primary benefit of OSS represents a huge change in thinking.

About half the 300 organizations - in both the public and private sectors - already are using or have committed to using open source software and about a third are experimenting with OSS. Fully 88 percent of those that already are using OSS in their operations plan to increase their investment.

What may be the key finding in the survey, however, is the reasons behind the move toward open source: Quality.

Firms in the U.K. were more positive about the quality. When asked which aspects of OSS were very or quite important in their decision to go with the open source solutions,  86 percent of the UK organizations surveyed said open source provided better quality software than proprietary systems, and just 49 percent pointed to the lower total cost of ownership. In the U.S., those figures were 66 percent and 65 percent, respectively.

When it came to the disadvantages of open source, those in the U.S. were far more likely to cite the lack of "true standards" (42 percent) or "development control" (29 percent), while those in the U.K. were focused overwhelmingly on training and education in how to use open source (41 percent), though the standards also were an issue (29 percent). Interestingly, no one in the U.S. cited training and education as an issue.

But in the U.S., companies were far more likely to expect their investment to increase than in the U.K. — 82 percent versus 56 percent.

There are lots of interesting statistics in the report (

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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