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Business gives open source thumbs-up

Around 50% of surveyed companies claim that vendor-supported open source software provides either the same or better features and benefits than proprietary software.

This is the key finding in this year's ITWeb open source survey, administered in conjunction with Linux Warehouse, which attracted more business management respondents than last year's survey.

The majority of respondents voted overwhelmingly that open source is either the same or better than proprietary in terms of features, speed performance, ease of use, tools and utilities, documentation, technical support, cost of ownership, scalability and ease of change.

According to Shannon Moodley, GM of Linux Warehouse, the conversation around open source software has gone beyond technical, and is receiving more attention from senior management. While the bulk of the respondents were still from IT, the survey found that around 50% of the respondents were management, and overall, 60% were from C-level.

The majority of respondents stemmed from medium and large organisations. According to Moodley, the survey shows that business management should be able to see the open source code; however, they do not necessarily need to modify the code. Over 82% of respondents believe that open standards should be fully compliant.

In terms of security, around 32% of respondents believe open source software to be as robust, bug-free and secure as proprietary. However, 20% of respondents claim vendor-supported open source software is more secure than proprietary.

Moodley says organisations can benefit best by running a combination of methodologies and technology deployments. “There needs to be a healthy combination between in-house-developed open source software and proprietary software. Business needs to consider the right tool for the job.”

Open source consulting and training came under fire in the survey, being voted as 30% and 36% worse than proprietary software, respectively.

Moodley points out that vendor-supported open source training is available; however, many businesses may not know where they can get training. She emphasises that open source awareness and education is important.

The survey asked respondents where in the organisation companies would consider using vendor-supported open source software – the majority of respondents voted operating systems. “This is where open source is traditionally very strong, and we would expect that,” says Moodley.

When choosing open source products, respondents rate initial cost (39%), cost of ownership (52%), as well as security (58%) as some of the highest priorities.

Moodley says: “The four highest concerns were support, training, consulting and documentation, which is why you need a company that can address those needs of the business. And vendor-supported open source software meets those needs.”


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