Eighty-five percent of companies are already using open-source software, with most of the remaining 15 percent expecting to do so within the next year, according to analysts at Gartner.
However, only 31 percent of companies surveyed by the analyst house had formal policies for evaluating and procuring open-source software (OSS). Gartner conducted its survey of 274 end-user organizations across the Asia/Pacific, Europe, and North American markets in May and June, and announced the results on Monday.
Respondents to the survey consistently pointed to cost as a prime motivator for their adoption of open source, with some also suggesting OSS provided some protection against single-vendor lock-in. Other reasons for adoption included fast time to market and the avoidance of complex procurement rules and procedures, Gartner said.
However, according to Gartner, a lack of formal policies could open companies up to intellectual-property violations. The analyst house's survey put governance issues at the top of the list for barriers to OSS adoption.
"Just because something is free doesn't mean that it has no cost," said Gartner research director Laurie Wurster in a statement. "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. Once a policy is in place, then there must be a governance process to enforce it."
Wurster added that the variety of license types and forms for open-source software could make understating when and where OSS might fit in a "frustrating process."
"As time goes by, many of these concerns will be addressed, but this continues to be a slow process," Wurster said. "Increases in OSS popularity and in the rate of OSS adoption will drive the required changes."
In terms of the business processes for which open-source software is being used, customer service headed Gartner's list, although enterprise integration, finance and administration, and business analytics also showed strongly.
David Meyer of ZDNet UK reported from London.