Open Source Governance: OpenLogic survey found unsatisfied customers

OpenLogic, an open source provider offering software and services for open source governance, conducted a study based on the answers to the questionnaire of 123 enterprise open source users. Only 38 percent of respondents – included systems and application architects, IT executives and managers and developers – said they were satisfied with the support they received from a commercial open source organization.

No satisfactionNo open source satisfaction by a-peril

OpenLogic’s research found that enterprise users of open source software have been accustomed to getting their support directly from the open source community or from their own internal support resources. However, a majority of respondents from larger enterprises saw having a support vendor as important. Additionally, although the most common support resources used were internal resources and open source mailing lists, a significant minority of respondents use commercial open source vendors. Still, many respondents also felt that open source support was harder to obtain.

When comparing open source support to support for traditional, non-open source software, the vast majority of respondents reported that open source support was of equal or better quality. Support issues for open source were more frequently about configuration, integration and performance than about software defects.

Despite the small size of the survey, and also keeping in mind that more than 50% of respondents are big enterprises (more than 1.000 employees), the study reflects qualitative trends in open source usage, as far as OpenLogic reports. I asked Kim Weins, Senior VP of Marketing at OpenLogic, another feedback.

Do you think the low satisfaction maybe related to the size of the customer?

I looked at the data from the survey and divided it into 3 groups by company size (250 employees or less, between 250 and 1000 employees, more than 1000 employees). When comparing these groups, the middle group (250-1000 employees) was most satisfied with Commercial OSS vendors (78% were satisfied or extremely satisfied), the smaller companies (< 250 employees) were next most satisfied (37% were satisfied or extremely satisfied), and the largest companies (>1000 employees) were least satisfied (32% were satisfied or extremely satisfied).

Smaller companies might have lower expectations in terms of integration issues, probably the toughest one to address, and the more likely to meet in a complex environment. Commercial open source vendors are asked to sell more and more valuable OSS support, providing customers with a service level going beyond what they can get for “free” (as in beer) from communities and internal resources. In this respect it is no surprise that the time it takes to resolve an issue takes longer for commercial OSS vendors than internal resources or community mailing lists.

Among the other findings of the survey apparently software defects is not the top priority, while users need more often of help with configuration, integration or performance issues. Hybrid here is a keyword, and commercial open source vendors need to cope with proprietary solutions and custom-coded software.

Last but not least, how do you see players like OpenLogic fitting into this picture?

There are several key areas that OpenLogic focuses on to ensure our customers are extremely satisfied.

  • Speed and quality of resolution. Companies want issues resolved quickly and accurately.
  • No fingerpointing. Companies need help when their issues span multiple components or applications in a mixed source environment.
  • Flexibility. When working in a production environment, companies do not always want to move to the latest version to get a fix. They often want help in patching their existing version to avoid migrating to a new version.

Flexibility seems a promising factor, and I would be glad to hear some feedback from OpenLogic’s customers.

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