Open source permeates the enterprise

* Open source could open up potential liabilities for intellectual property violations

Open source software is present in 85% of enterprises and the remainder expect to deploy it in the next year, according to research from Gartner. However, 69% of organizations don't have a formal policy for evaluating open source usage in their organizations, according to the Gartner survey. This opens up potential liabilities for intellectual property violations.

"Just because something is free doesn't mean that it has no cost," says Laurie Wurster, research director at Gartner. "Companies must have a policy for procuring OSS, deciding which applications will be supported by OSS, and identifying the intellectual property risk or supportability risk associated with using OSS.” What’s more, once you have a policy, you need sufficient governance to enforce it.

Companies are deploying open source in new projects for both mission-critical and non-critical situations. The most mature

implementations tend to pertain to infrastructure. Of the application software deployments, there’s a higher rate of using open

source to replace commercial products. More projects related to application software are planned to start in the next 12 months.

Respondents rank the most important reasons for using open source as lower total cost of ownership, reduction in development of cost-prohibitive factors, as well as ease on embarking on new IT projects and software initiatives.

Other reasons for deploying open source software include investment protection against a single vendor and faster time to market. The biggest challenge is governance, followed by conflicting terms and conditions and licensing confusion.

IT leaders deploy open source for customer service business process, as well as enterprise integration, finance and administration, and business analytics. Also popular are sales and marketing, customer analytics, field service, enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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