Forrester: Open source delivers cost and quality benefits

Forrester's newest research report on open source suggests that open-source adoption is even broader and deeper than expected.

Matt Asay Contributing Writer
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.
Matt Asay
2 min read

For anyone still stuck in the 20th century mindset that open source is just about Linux--or even solely about Linux and middleware like the JBoss application server--Forrester Research's new report, "Open source paves the way for the next generation of enterprise IT," should be an eye opener.

Through the report, Forrester makes it clear that open adoption is deep, wide, and covers all levels of the software stack, from operating system to applications.

The impact? Well, let's just say that enterprises may dabble in open source for the cost savings, but they will stay, according to Forrester, for far more critical factors:

...(A)s (enterprises') adoption of open source software matures, they are likely to find more value beyond saving money on software license costs, low barriers to entry, and rapid evolution of successful open source projects.

The open source paradigm embraces an even more important long-term benefit--a more innovative IT shop that can rapidly adapt to changing technologies and seize new opportunities as higher-level open source infrastructure projects mature. This combination of upfront cost savings and improved time-to-market will become a powerful weapon for those shops that can wield it strategically as a way to maximize the effectiveness of their software investments.

With that said, the cost benefit should not be understated, with 56 percent of Forrester survey respondents naming cost as a primary driver for their open-source adoption:

Open source reduces costs and improves quality Forrester Research

A few other salient facts from the Forrester report:

  • 87 percent of those surveyed realized the cost savings they expected from open source;
  • 92 percent of respondents have had their quality expectations met or exceeded by open-source software. (Try getting anywhere near that number with proprietary solutions);
  • The manufacturing sector has been a primary adopter of open-source middleware, while financial services (at least, up until the meltdown) has been fastest off the starting blocks to go to open-source applications;
  • Speaking of open-source applications, a significant percentage of the enterprises surveyed have adopted or will adopt the following open-source software within the next 12 months: CRM (67 percent), ESB (47 percent), ECM (66 percent), etc.
Adoption of open source is spreading to different applications Forrester Research

Intriguingly, Forrester also tracked adoption of open source via proprietary applications: a full 72 percent of all surveyed organizations know that much of the proprietary software they license includes open-source components, while 39 percent regularly combine open source and proprietary software to solve business problems.

As enterprises learn to treat open source as a standard way of acquiring and developing software, the top barriers Forrester identifies to open-source adoption--security and a perceived lack of services and support--should crumble.

In sum, open source is set to become much more pervasive. Given how broadly it has already been adopted in the federal government and throughout enterprise IT, that's saying something.