Why open source software adoption is accelerating in the enterprise

Application categories traditionally dominated by proprietary applications are being replaced with open source software, according to a new survey.

Why IBM's purchase of Red Hat makes their future mostly cloudy James Sanders takes a closer look at the motives behind IBM's move to join forces with Red Hat.

For business applications, open source software is quite often the first choice. While early proponents may have focused on lowering costs, an ecosystem of integrations and developer skill sets centered around open source solutions have solidified its importance in the enterprise. Some 69% of IT professionals indicate that open source software either extremely or very important, according to Red Hat's first State of Enterprise Open Source survey, published Tuesday.

Of the 950 IT professionals surveyed, only 1% indicated that open source software was "not at all important."

Adoption of open source is likewise expected to continue with equitable levels of enthusiasm. In the last 12 months, 68% of respondents reported an increase in the use of open source software, while 29% reported no change. For the next 12 months, 59% expect an increase, while 39% expect no change.

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Open source software is most often used for website development (45%), with cloud management tools following closely behind (43%). Security and big data followed at 42%, with 41% of respondents citing database use, and 38% using open source for web servers.

The geographical spread of open source cloud management tool adoption is rather uneven, with 48% of APAC and 46% of US respondents using it, though only 37% of respondents in the UK and Latin America do.

A lower total cost of ownership was the most cited benefit of using open source software, at 33%, though better security and "access to the latest innovations" were tied at 29%.

"This is significant because it directly speaks to one of the ways in which open source is

fundamentally different from proprietary software," Red Hat technology evangelist Gordon Haff wrote in a blog post. "Enterprise open source software can be well-supported and more secure and reliable for sure. But the same could be said of software from many proprietary vendors. One of the things that's unique about open source is the way it enables individuals and organizations to collaborate to achieve common goals with a minimum of structure and other barriers."

Respondents also indicated higher quality software (26%) and access to enterprise-level support (25%) and the ability to customize applications (25%) as benefits. (The question allowed up to 3 of 6 possible answers.)

For more on open source, check out "Linus Torvalds offers the secret to Linux's long-term success (the answer won't surprise you)" and "Google's open source partner play is good business, not "some sort of generous magical deal"."

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By James Sanders

James Sanders is a technology writer for TechRepublic. He covers future technology, including quantum computing, AI, and 5G, as well as cloud, security, open source, mobility, and the impact of globalization on the industry, with a focus on Asia.