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Open Source Software: It's Eating the Software World

By Dick Weisinger

“Open source is eating the software world,” says Michael J. Skok, general partner at North Bridge Venture Partners.  “Enterprises see Open Source as leading innovation, delivering higher quality and driving growth rather than just being a free or low-cost alternative.  Going forward, we can expect more disruption from open source, new business models, and many more exciting new projects and companies.”

A recent report by North Bridge and Black Duck on the 2013 Open Source software found three main trends:

  1. Businesses view Open Source as having high quality and as a way to avoid vendor lock-in.
  2. Businesses are adopting Open Source because it solves their problems at a lower cost
  3. Businesses are establishing collaborative partnerships with other businesses through their Open Source relationships.  Collaboration is occurring particularly by organizations in government, healthcare and media.

Interestingly, in the ranking of characteristics important to Open Source in the North Bridge report, “Formal Commercial Vendor Support” ranked last.  That would imply that businesses are less concerned with having a formal contract in place for support of the software that they use.  This finding seems to be at odds with the results from a survey from Univa which found that the lack of enterprise-grade support for Open Source software is typically the biggest barrier businesses have to using Open Source.

The Univa report found that  among users of Open Source, 75 percent have experienced some sort of problem.  Businesses worry about the stability of Open Source software — whether there will be problems with how the software can be used.  25 percent of users said that they view the stability of the software as the biggest reason to pay for a support contract.

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