Open Source Customers: about OSS role in the Enterprise

Forrester published a study entitled “Open Source Software’s Expanding Role in the Enterprise“, reporting answers from 486 Open Source decision makers, based in North America and Europe.

Savio Rodrigues commenting a Matt Asay interview that I also mentioned, wrote about the Forrester report, and reading it I found some food for thoughts besides the highlights of Savio and Matt posts.

The #1 attribute of open source that enterprise decision makers care most about: “Supporting open standards”.

Open source doesn’t guarantee open standards. But as the data indicates, the key attribute of OSS in the eyes of enterprise decision makers is open standards. OSS vendor/buyer/user beware.

You got a point Savio – and as you probably know Bob Sutor recently suggested to divorce open source from open standards – but Open Source firms backing open source projects are used to share standards. Choosing to cooperate in technological endeavours – i.e. participating a technological club – happens only if the benefits of cooperation outweigh the costs, and it is not rare to see OS firms doing it.

About the second most important OSS attribute reported by Forrester,  “using without restrictions”, you kept it for a second post, and while waiting I wish to stress that it is a pretty typical open source attributes, indeed.

Matt, who previously wrote a longer post about the report, said:

Surprisingly, the biggest inhibitor to open source adoption seems to continue to be a lack of support/services.

I am not that surprised, and (unfortunately) has little importance that:

[..] any moderately used open source project now has at least one credible source of support for it  [..]

As Matt himself reported later, companies like Unisys or Accenture are bringing open source into the enterprise, and even if small firms sometimes do even a superior work, they don’t have the necessary credibility.

The problem is that Large to Medium customers look for enterprise level vendors, but even those vendors can not offer personalization or integration for hundreds of OSS.
A Pyramidal approach, where large System Integrators would act as “mediators” towards small specialized firms, is missing, and it is not trivial to set up for a large number of OS projects.

Last but not least I wish to report an interesting Forrester’s statement:

Forrester found a few differences between North America and Europe in how firms want service providers involved in the selection, certification, and operation of their open source stacks. Europeans were more likely to want service suppliers to provide assistance in selecting open source software and to offer operations assistance, but the North American group was more interested in vendor certification of an integrated stack of open source software.

Why that?

Technorati Tags: Open Source market, Forrester, SavioRodrigues, MattAsay