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Open Source: The Unseen Pillar in IT
Stuart Rowe
JAN 14, 2013 08:32 AM
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Nobody talks about it, everyone’s got it, but who is using it best? Open Source software is hardly ever mentioned when people talk about their business’ core IT foundation. It seems like everyone has some form of Open Source software supporting their business, but the stigma appears to be that Open Source is looked upon as the redheaded step-child no one wants to admit they have. Commercial and proprietary software certainly rules a large portion of enterprise solutions, but there’s still a goodly amount of tools enterprises stand upon that fall into the Open Source bucket.

Open Source solutions are not new. For example, Linux, the free open source version of the UNIX operating system, has been around since 1991. Since then, many different versions, or flavors, of Linux have been created, along with a dizzying amount of Open Source software covering just about any commercial software application you can think of.

During my time at a previous employer, I saw that they had maintained a leading and prominent place in their market space for 14 years using almost exclusively Open Source based software.

Some Open Source products are living in the limelight for the moment, (Apache’s Hadoop comes to mind) but the majority of Open Source usage tends to remain hiding below the forward-facing applications. For example, an enterprise may say they’re running Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, and Access, but they usually don’t say (or know) that all those applications may be running on Open Source virtualization software such as Xen, Red Hat or KVM, instead of a native single-server installation or proprietary virtualization software like VMware or Microsoft HyperV.

In results from Aberdeen’s May 2012 survey on Servers and Virtualization, we saw that Best-in-Class (BIC) companies had a decidedly higher implementation rate of Linux servers and Open Source software (both were 68%) in their Server Initiatives. Compared with All Other companies, the Best-in-Class are 55% more likely to have some form of Linux servers and 92% more likely to have Open Source software running under the hood.

This begs the question: Why are Open Source and Linux solutions so hard for companies to talk about? It is apparent that the best performers are definitely using some form of both Linux and Open Source software and to good ends as well. Is the market not ready for Open Source software to come out and crash the party?

by Stuart Rowe, Aberdeen Group, Research Associate

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