For Enterprise Open Source Adoption, Support Problems Still Loom

by Sam Dean - May. 20, 2011Comments (0)

The annual Open Source Business Conference (OSBC), sponsored by Computerworld, took place in San Francisco this week, and, as usual at the conference, Northbridge Venture Partners released its Future of Open Source survey results. The survey was done in conjunction with the 451 Group, and we've taken a preliminary look at the survey's top-line results, which pointed to substantial opportunities for open source in the cloud and on mobile devices. The survey also includes some data on enterprise adoption of open source, and plans to adopt open source in enteprises, where it is becoming clear that many organizaitons are warming up to it.

As PC World notes:

"Perhaps most notable among the study's results was the fact that a full 56 percent of respondents believe that more than half of software purchases made in the next five years will be open source."

But the PC World report also adds:

"Existing enterprise users of open source software, meanwhile, are now more focused on mainstream technology issues such as improved operational excellence around areas including support, product management, feature functionality and return on investment. In previous years, by contrast, the legal implications of licensing and conformance with internal policies were bigger concerns."

Of these particular issues, lack of formal support for many open source projects will undoubtedly loom large as enterprises give more consideration to open source. This is not a new issue. Many IT administrators continue to argue that even though open source platforms and applications are free, the savings that that implies up-front is eaten away over time as businesses have to struggle to concoct their own support strategies for free software.

If open source is to achieve its full promise in enterprises, then third-party support providers for open source projects need to step up to the plate in a big way and solve the support problem. Credativ is one company making an attempt at this.  Its Open Source Support Center is positioned as a one-stop shop for support for almost all significant open source applications and platforms, including the many flavors of Linux distros, development languages, and databases. Credativ has expanded its efforts to provide comprehensive open source support around the world since 2009, and its efforts appear to be working.

But the problem is, solutions like Credativ's aren't directly on the radar of most IT administrators and business leaders. It's one thing for open source movers and shakers to predict in a survey that open source will flourish in businesses over the next several years, but it's another thing entirely to push plans to implement open source through RFP and budgeting cycles at businesses. 

Ironically, just as many open source projects have become perfectly viable competitors to proprietary alternatives, it's becoming clear that--for businesses--the maturity of the technology isn't the central issue. Businesses will demand support for open source projects, and this is an ongoing problem for the open source community.

Randy Clark uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


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