Open source in every business within 12 months says Gartner

Open-source software is almost universal in the enterprise a survey from analyst group Garner has confirmed.

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Open-source software is almost universal in the enterprise a survey from analyst group Garner has confirmed.

New research has highlighted quite how pervasive open source software (OSS) has become, with 85 per cent of companies currently using OSS and the remaining 15 per cent expecting to in the next 12 months.

The findings come from a Gartner survey in May and June 2008, which covered 274 end-user organisations in Asia/Pacific, Europe and North America, and raise a series of management issues for businesses.

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The analyst group found that 69 per cent of companies surveyed lacked a formal policy for evaluating and cataloguing OSS usage. This could open up “huge potential liabilities for intellectual-property violations,” it warned.

"Just because something is free doesn't mean that it has no cost," said Laurie Wurster, research director at Gartner.

"Companies must have a policy for procuring OSS, deciding which applications will be supported by OSS, and identifying the intellectual property risk or supportability risk associated with using OSS. Once a policy is in place, then there must be a governance process to enforce it."

OSS is being deployed almost equally in mission-critical and non-mission-critical environments for new projects, said Gartner.

The top three reasons for using OSS were total cost of ownership, cheaper development the fact that it is easier to embark on new IT projects or software initiatives using an open source base.

“Some respondents indicated that they also use OSS as investment protection against a single vendor ‘owning’ the entire IT department,” Gartner noted.