A survey being released today at an open source conference in San Francisco shows that 56 percent of respondents predict that more than half of the software purchases made by businesses and other enterprises over the next five years will be of open source software. The organizers of the Open Source Business Conference 2011 say that this is because customers have overcome their reluctance toward using open source, such as concerns about licenses, and are embracing its virtues, such as flexibility, lower cost and avoiding vendor lock-in. The survey also identifies growth opportunities for open source in the software as a service (SaaS), cloud computing and mobile markets, which are growth areas for IT in general.
Open source vendors have long hyped the idea that open source is going "mainstream," but in this year's survey 60 percent of the respondents are end users, which means that users are acknowledging that, too, said Michael Skok, conference chairman and a general partner at North Bridge Venture Partners, which conducted the survey.
This is the fifth annual survey for OSBC. Skok notes that six years ago, CIOs and IT staff "didn't understand what open source was or how to deal with it." At the same time, vendors weren't prepared to answer their questions.
Today, user confidence in open source is strong, and earlier concerns about complicated open source licensing or company policies against open source are no longer relevant, he says. "People were scared that they'd have things like code leakage or copyright violations. That's not coming up at all," Skok says.
In this survey, for the first time, the No. 1advantage respondents see to open source is avoiding software vendor lock-in, which replaced lower costs, the previous No. 1 advantage. The No. 2 advantage is lower costs compared with licensed software, and No. 3 is flexibility.