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Open source gains while proprietary software declines

Open source is seeing a greater share of the enterprise software market while proprietary software declines, according to research from Gartner and Forrester.

It used to be so easy to be a proprietary-software vendor.

That is, until the open-source neighbors moved in. As noted in a Gartner analysis from late last year, proprietary software is on the wane within enterprises while open source is gaining:

Open source gaining at proprietary's expense Gartner

That's not the sort of chart that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer likes to wake up to, but it's a message to which CIOs are increasingly warming.

The reason? Well, cost is the primary driver for open-source consideration, as a recent Forrester report suggests, but what is most significant is the overwhelmingly positive experience CIOs are having with open source, as this same Forrester report suggests.

Consider the following responses to the question, "How has open-source software met your organization's expectations in the following areas?":

  • Reduced costs...87 percent (met or exceeded expectations).
  • Improved quality...92 percent.
  • Eased integration and customization...86 percent.
  • Quickened the pace of innovation...82 percent.
  • Improved support...84 percent.
  • Standards compliance...91 percent.
  • Decreased time to market...82 percent.

These are numbers that money can't buy. In fact, the open-source world is giving them away...literally.

Open-source software isn't perfect, and its quality varies widely, just as in the proprietary-software world. But unlike proprietary software, open source actively de-risks the IT purchasing decision by enabling you to try before you buy, buy on subscription (i.e., no long-term commitment), and pay a lot less for equal or greater value.

Small wonder, then, that CIOs are voting with their wallets, buying into open source while cutting investments in proprietary software.

Follow me on Twitter @mjasay.