Organizations think open source software (OSS) is bad. You know, bad meaning good. Do people still say bad? Never mind. A Gartner (news, site) study has found that enterprises are increasingly including open source software in their technology portfolio. Propelled by rapid innovation, lower adoption and implementation cost and features rivaling commercial options, OSS is becoming pervasive.

Open Source Software Usage and Adoption

The Gartner study of current and future OSS usage and adoption habits included feedback from 547 IT leaders in 11 countries and multiple industry verticals. Analysts found that more than half of respondents have adopted OSS, and 21% were evaluating OSS in their organization. Gartner expects OSS to grow to 30% of enterprise software utilization in the next 18 months. The growth in popularity is impressive given the cautious attitudes exhibited toward OSS only a few years ago.
According to the research, OSS solutions are being selected for many reasons beyond the obvious cost justification.

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Gartner 2011 OSS Results

OSS isn’t just a way to reduce IT budgets. Companies are finding that OSS may be more aligned with IT and business strategy than comparable commercial solutions.

Open Source Vendors Rewarded with Growth

Open source projects have long been labors of love compensated by bragging rights and lessons learned for contributors. Projects were spawned as creative solutions to problems and given, freely in most cases, to the world. Growth in adoption has resulted in the growth in OSS teams and revenues. Many sell support or complementary products and services that allow them profit.

2010 was a phenomenal year for many open source projects. Java portal maker Liferay (news, site) had a 100% growth in revenue and staff headcount. The company also expanded its partner network to 89. Open source .Net CMS Dot Net Nuke had an equally pleasing year. New NoSQL partners CouchOne and Membase saw strong revenue growth in 2010 and have formed Couchbase, which is expected to perform equally well.

But that's not all. Web experience management provider Squiz had a record-breaking year. The organization is reporting 20% annual growth and its highest profits to date. Acquia, well-known providers of Drupal (news,site) services and products, more than doubled the number of employees and achieved 500% revenue growth year over year.

These are impressive numbers by any measure. Any news search of open source vendors from Sugar CRM to SilverStripe illustrates the positive response these companies are experiencing.

Many technologists and implementers have long been aware of the benefits that open source software provides; corporate leaders are finally taking note and agreeing. It’s about time.