alfresco, survey, open source It's back again. Alfresco has released its 2008 Open Source Barometer and the results really should not surprise many. Enterprises like mixed technology environments that leverage Windows, Java, rich internet applications with AJAX and integrated Web 2.0 tools. We ran through the results with Alfresco CMO Ian Howells to get the scoop on the key findings and what they mean to Alfresco going forward.

What is the Open Source Barometer

The Open Source Barometer is the largest open source enterprise stack survey. Conducted by Alfresco, the survey reaches out to their 74,000 content community members to find out the preferences of open source technologies in the enterprise. This is the third edition of the survey (view the second edition). It ran from April to September 2008 and of the possible 74,000 responses, 25,163 community members gave their input. Not a bad turn out -- maybe better percentages than the US election. What did Alfresco want to know? * How and where is Open Source used in the stack in the enterprise? * Is the stack pure or a hybrid? * Is there a leader in each layer of the stack? * Is there a difference in usage from evaluation to deployment? * Are there differences based on geography? * What are the trends over time? * New to this edition of the survey: SharePoint and Enterprise 2.0 technology impacts

And the Open Source Barometer Survey Says...

We'll highlight the key findings in each layer of the stack: * Operating System: MS Windows garners 64% (XP having 58% and Windows 2003 -- 29%), with Linux picking up 27% * Operating System, Eval vs Deploy: Users prefer to evaluation on Windows and deploy on Linux. In terms of Linux, the breakdown for choice is Ubuntu (31%), Red Hat (31%), Debian and Linux Other (14%) and Suse (11%) * Application Server: Tomcat (71%) is top gun, with JBoss in not so close pursuit (15%) * Architecture: Java rules with 71%, followed by Web Services with 14% * Rich Internet Applications: AJAX rules the roost with 58%, while Adobe Flex follows with 21% * Portal: The clear winner here is the browser with 66%. No one solution had stronger numbers (SharePoint, JBoss and Liferay all with 9%) * Blog: When available use the one integrated into the ECM (63%), otherwise go with WordPress (16%), SharePoint (9%), b2evolution (7%) * Wiki: What's good for the Blog is good for the wiki: when available use the one integrated (60%), otherwise go with MediaWiki (15%), DekiWiki (8%) * Business Process Management: Again we find the preference is to the integrated BPM solution (62%), with JBoss following with 12% * Business Intelligence: There is no dominant choice (59%), but when there is a preference, Business Objects leads the way (14%) The geographic breakdown of open source usage was interesting. The US leads the way as a country with 20%. France and Germany come next with 8% each. Howell noted that India (6%) is a new up and comer.

Key Findings for Open Source

There were lots of key findings coming from this survey, particularly in regards to Windows users. Overall, users want a mixed stack. It's not pure open source and it's not pure Windows.

Windows and Open Source

Despite the fact that Windows is a primary operating system for evaluation and is used in production, users don't seem to want a .net / Silverlight environment. They want Java and AJAX. And nobody wants Vista. Why is Windows popular in an open source environment? Howell says it's because people are testing on their laptops and Windows is the operating system used.

The Impact of Enterprise 2.0

Open source users like the browser and use it to access content. AJAX interfaces are particularly inviting. This reflect the influence of Web 2.0 which is a browser driven experience. Decisions on blog, wiki and business process solutions are driven by the ECM itself. Users lean towards using the software included with the ECM platform. When they want something different, they are leaning towards solutions like MediaWiki, WordPress or JBoss.

Architecture and Infrastructure

Ubuntu and Red Hat are still the bosses when it comes to operating systems. Again, nobody likes Vista (surprised?). And for application servers, Tomcat stands above the rest with JBoss being the true app server leader. Java is the primary architecture preferred. This is at the infrastructure level as it provides the scalability and availability most enterprises want and need. Howell did note that for the front-end we are seeing more lightweight technologies like scripting with PHP, AJAX for rich internet applications and a RESTful solution. Quick and easy is key for front-end development.

What Does It All Mean for Alfresco?

The intent of the survey is multi-fold. Alfresco wants information. This information helps them validate the technology decisions they have made to date and it serves as a guide post to the technology decisions they make going forward. What has Alfresco learned?

Easy Deployment is Necessary

They have learned that their decision to make the Alfresco ECM deployment as easy as possible is still the right decision. With so many users testing the ECM on their laptops, they need a deployment that is straightforward and simple. Apparently Alfresco can be up and running in ten minutes.

ECM Needs to Support a Mixed Technology Stack

The survey confirms that users typically have a mixed technology stack. Which means an ECM solution must support multiple operating systems, databases, development environments, etc... Users don't want to have to invest in new products -- they want leverage their existing hardware, software and people skills. Alfresco does just that. Also important to note is that there is a big market for Java solutions that can run in both a Windows or Linux environment. Users can test on Windows, then deploy on Linux and they don't have to worry that things won't work.

Enterprise 2.0 tools are Important

Organizations are implementing Enterprise 2.0 technologies as a fast rate. It appears that their preference is to use integrated technologies like blogs and wikis inside an Enterprise CMS as opposed to trying to integrate third-party solutions. What this tells Alfresco is that they need to focus more effort on developing their blog, wiki and BPM functionality inside the Alfresco ECM. They also see which third-party solutions they should be working with when an organization does want to go outside the ECM for Enterprise 2.0 tools.

Some Things Change, Others Stay the Same

Compare the results to last year's Open Source Barometer and you don't really see much of a deviation. Operating systems, application servers, dislike of Windows Vista, preference for the browser -- it was pretty much the same in the last survey. The difference lies in how Enterprise 2.0 has changed the landscape. SharePoint has also affected how things work in the open source world. No, SharePoint is not open source, but in almost all the categories it has been listed. This just proves the mixed technology environment is occuring more and more and an ECM vendor can't ignore the need to integrate with or supply an alternative to SharePoint. You can see the results for yourself and learn more at the community site. Anything interesting here that caught your attention? Let us know.