While the global economy might still be a tad shaky after the past year, in a survey of open source vendors we carried out just before Christmas, we found, perhaps surprisingly, that nearly half of them were optimistic about the coming year.

Economically, 44% of them were strongly positive about 2011, with 39% somewhat positive and the rest being cautiously neutral. Many cited the lower costs of open source software as driving more organizations to their doorsteps.

Open Source Survey

The information was gleaned from a number of questions sent to open source projects of which 23 responded. The responses came from companies that can be loosely classified as:

Target Geographies

However, the survey looked at a whole range of issues -- not just the economics of open source -- which we can only summarize here.

When asked what parts of the world their projects and organizations are targeting as a high priority for growth in 2011, geographies identified included:

  • North America - 91%
  • Europe - 70%
  • Asia Pacific/Oceania - 36%
  • South America and the Middle East - Tied at 19%

In the low priority category South America came in at 33% with the Middle East at 29% and Asia Pacific at 18%. Specific countries people are targeting include Brazil, France, and the UK.

Open Source Projects 2011

Understandably then, when asked about plans for 2011, given the general optimism, most companies have already outlined the enhancements to their projects they would like to see over the year.
These included:

  • Improve General Usability - 78%
  • Additional APIs / Integration / Platform Features and Social / Engagement / Personalization / Optimization Features - Tied at 64%
  • Address Performance and Scalability Limits - 52%
  • Better Mobile Device and/or Multi-Channel Support - 48%
  • CMIS Enhancements - 29%

On the flip side, the lowest priorities are JCR Enhancements (35%), CMIS Enhancements (33%) and Semantic Web Features (e.g., RDFa, Semantic intelligence, etc.) (30%). JCR Enhancements were by far the biggest N/A answer at 35%, no doubt because they only apply for projects based on Java.

Open Source Business Models

One of the other big questions we asked was how vendors see business models evolving in 2011. Not surprisingly there was a considerable variety in the responses. Some of them included:

  • Alfresco: Commercial open source models will be refined, with adjustments made to address factors like the economy, evolving technology, and so on.DotNetNuke: The continued expansion of cloud computing will cause open source business models to move toward subscription-based SaaS-type offerings.
  • eZ Publish: Hybrid enterprise-compliant open source vendors will become a serious option for larger organizations.
  • Nuxeo: More and more people (and specifically vertical vendors) will use open source components in a critical way in their products, lending more value to open source vendors.
  • Tiki Wiki: More widespread acceptance creating more consultants and companies providing services and support.
  • XOOPS: They don't see a major shift from what's already in place, but that perhaps more large companies will get involved through sponsorships and more as they discover the advantage of open source.

While these were some of the principal questions we looked at other interesting contributions on how open source CMS will evolve over the year and what disruptive forces were waiting in the long grass to ruin all the fun.

In this respect we concluded that those vendors who offer the most meaningful toolsets will benefit most, with such features concentrating on the fact that people are interacting more frequently and more informally with sites, companies and organizations. Check it out to find out more and let us know what you think?