Open source rising as the economy continues to fall

Three analyst firms have lined up to compete for the most dour assessments of global IT spending, but open source seems to do well in this sort of environment.

The market is clearly racing toward a bottom when we start looking to Monty Python for business advice and the most lucid (if profane) analysis of Google's announced open-source operating system, Chrome OS, comes from Fake Steve Jobs.

However fast we may be "racing," however, we're not there yet.

At least, not according to a survey of 200 IT executives by Computer Economics, which finds:

  • About 49 percent of the IT executives surveyed plan to make further budget cuts in 2009.
  • Almost 50 percent will spend less than what is allocated in their IT operational budget.

Not good, right? Well, it gets worse...

Forrester and Gartner are duking it out to see who can be gloomiest in their assessment of 2009 IT spending, as Baseline reports. Gartner sees global IT spending dropping 6 percent from 2008, while Forrester one-ups Gartner with a projected 10.6 percent decline. (Forrester had earlier projected a 3 percent dip for 2009.)

Actually, the economy being as rotten as it is, some companies are going against the economic grain by offering compelling open-source alternatives to traditional, proprietary software, as reported Wednesday. And it's intriguing to watch companies like Lockheed Martin get into open source as a way to shift costs and improve development of their software.

Yes, there are still open-source holdouts like Orange UK which has allegedly banned Firefox and anything more modern than Internet Explorer 6 from its call centers. The company is still accepting smoke signals as a form of communication, so we're trying to get the message through that open source can drive down costs and improve productivity.

That's OK. According to Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond, open source is "infiltrating the enterprise" on a grand scale now. What starts out as an interest in penny pinching turns into something much more, he says.

So, while I'm not cheering for ever-gloomier forecasts of IT spending, I will admit that I like the result: more open-source adoption.

Follow me on Twitter @mjasay.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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