Survey says: companies are singing the open-source gospel

Free is good, profitable is better

Some people like open source because it's cheap or free. This isn't news.

The low-or-no-cost of open source is still very attractive. Just look at my previous post on the youth ripple effect in open source and you can see who some of those people are.

What you may find surprising, though, is that a lot of big businesses now are specifically choosing open source for benefits -- like reliability and quality, characteristics that are more often associated with traditional, single-vendor software solutions.

According to a new survey by Accenture that polled 300 large organizations in the U.S., UK and Ireland, open source investments are trending up.

Calling it a "turning point" for open source, Accenture said that "More than two-thirds of organizations (69 percent) anticipate increased investment in 2010, with more than a third (38 percent) expecting to migrate mission-critical software to open source in the next twelve months. "

Here are some other survey highlights:

  • 76 percent of respondents in the UK and U.S. cited quality as a key benefit of open source.
  • Two-thirds overall (71 percent) cited improved reliability.
  • Better security/bug fixing was cited by nearly as many (70 percent) across both countries.

Don't get me-or Accenture-wrong: A lower total cost of ownership is still an attractive quality of open source and one that companies aren't immune to. What might strike you as interesting is the fact that most of the surveyed organizations didn't consider cost reduction to be the #1 reason to choose open source, something that may not have been the case if you asked them the same question just a few years ago.

Me? I'm not surprised, considering the feedback that we've been hearing in the communities for Linux, Apache Lucene/Solr, Spring and other successful mainstream open source projects. With better than 70 percent of survey respondents recommending open source for quality, reliability, security, and bug fixes, it means they think open source can help reduce risk - and reduced risk can save a lot more money than a 100 percent discount on a license fee.

Of course, 'free' is a business benefit, as it drops right to the bottom line. But it's the other parts of the equation that I think are more interesting. And if there's one thing you can count on, it's that businesses who talk to Accenture know what drives their bottom line.

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