Open source offerings and associated services are getting better and starting to seem less risky, while IT budgets are shrinking. Result? What's bad for economy is clearly good for open source.

A recent survey shows that web content management is one of the prime "targets" for disruption by open source.

Open source vendors rejoice, closed source companies nod in agreement and utter the magic word "interoperability."

Looking Into the Crystal Ball

The latest “Future of Open Source” survey was revealed at the InfoWorld's Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) this week. The survey was conducted with 435 respondents and focused on such topics surrounding open source software as the impact of the economic recession, key market drivers, and predictions.

Key findings from the 2009 Future of Open Source survey are:

  • Approximately 96% of respondents feel the economy's turbulence is "good" for open source software (up from 81 percent in 2008).
  • Almost 80% of respondents believe that open source software will make up greater than 25% of the software purchased in their organization.
  • The top four factors that make open source software attractive are: lower cost, security, no vendor lock-in and better quality.
  • Web content management is one of prime “targets” for disruption by open source CMS market.
  • Productivity, security tools and ERP/CRM are the least likely areas to be affected by open source.
  • Barriers for greater open source acceptance include unfamiliarity with open source solutions, lack of internal technical skills and lack of formal commercial vendor support.
  • The most value for open source vendors is predicted to come from technical support and professional services.

The 2009 Future of Open Source survey was developed with input from a number of companies including Acquia, Microsoft, Mozilla, Novell, Red Hat, Sun Microsystems, Sugar CRM and many others. Tom Erickson, Acquia chairman and chief executive officer, is convinced that "Open source software is becoming increasingly mainstream even at the enterprise level."

Full results are available here.

Alfresco (Of Course) Riding the Open Source Wave

Also at the OSBC, enterprise open source Alfresco's general manager for the Americas, Matt Asay, shared a story from Alfresco's earlier days.

"Two and a half years ago, I got a call from a large financial services firm," said Asay. "They said, 'Well, we're kicking the tires on Alfresco, we took the demo and we went through the processes.' Then they told me, 'You know, we're a conservative organization, and open source is just too risky for us. We can't do it.'

"Well, a week ago Friday, I got a call back from the same guy, same company, and he said: 'You know, losing my job for buying big proprietary software is too risky. You guys are now in the drivers' seats; we need to buy open source,'" concluded Asay.

Asay’s conclusion: "Open-source companies are seeing sales go up as the Dow goes down."

Learning Opportunities

As long as your open source software does what you say it does, the customers will come lured in by lower cost, no vendor lock-in and flexibility.

IBM, Sun and Microsoft Pitch In

Microsoft, IBM and Sun Microsystems shared the stage at the Open Source Business Conference and gave keynotes. All seem to be in favor of open source advantages. All are playing along.

Robert Youngjohns, president of Microsoft North America, said that for Microsoft interoperability is key. For pragmatic business purposes, Microsoft is playing friendly with open source.

Sun Microsystems pledged support to open source. IBM embraced Linux.

Open Source is a Shining Star

From predictions to reality… Open source is fulfilling its analyst-driven destiny, and more organizations are trusting this model.

The Dutch government, for example, has abandoned their closed sourced WCM vendor(s) in favor of consolidating websites on the open source Hippo CMS 7. The UK government is backing up open source as well. Examples are endless.

As CMS Watch reports, even web content management vendors turn to open source when it comes to search, for instance. Apache Lucene is bundled into 40% out of 42 WCM solutions they analyzed.

The open source boom is no longer in the “predictions” context. It is reality.