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Apr 18 2015

Survey: 78% of U.S. Companies Run Open Source Software


Investment firm North Bridge Growth Equity & Venture Partners and IT consultant and service provider Black Duck Software have published the results of their bi-annual Future of Open Source Survey.

Together with Jeffrey Hammond, VP and Open Source expert at Forrester Research, North Bridge and Black Duck evaluated replies from some 1,300 users of open source software (OSS) located in the U.S., a good chunk of which are professionals working at software vendors and consulting firms. Perhaps not too surprisingly, the researchers conclude their study reflects the "increasing adoption" and "pervasive nature" of OSS, while also underscoring the "abundance of organizations" that by now participates in software and solution development. The official North Bridge press release lists some of the key findings:

  • 78% of the interviewees stated their employers "run part or all of its operations on OSS," while 66% said their company creates software for customers built on open source. The first group has nearly doubled since 2010, when 42% of participants in the Future of Open Source Survey said that they used open source to run their business or IT environments.
  • Nine in ten respondents (93%) stated their company's use of OSS had increased or remained stable in 2014.
  • 64% of the interviewees' employers currently participate in OSS projects, and 88% are said to have plans to increase their contributions to these within the next two or three years.
  • Two thirds (66%) said they consider OSS before evaluating other possible solutions.

The researchers also asked their audience to choose the "most valuable" OSS project; among the top contenders were (in alphabetical order) Docker, Drupal, LibreOffice, Linux, OpenStack, PostgreSQL, and Ubuntu.

Along with its generally positive results, the study also revealed some issues that currently hamper an even wider adoption of OSS solutions. Key factors include a lack of governance regarding OSS projects and reservations among topics such as indemnification in case of damages incurred:

  • Nearly three in five respondents (55%) stated their companies have "no formal policy or procedure for open source consumption," while only one quarter (27%) has formal policies in place to regulate employee contributions to OSS projects.
  • Over 58% don't keep an inventory of installed OSS components, and only 16% have an automated, formalized code approval process.
  • More than half of the respondents said they were dissatisfied with their "ability to understand known security problems" in OSS, and only 17% of the companies are likely to adopt code reviews that search for vulnerabilities – an approach that, if maintained, would render OSS installations just as exploitable as their unpatched, closed-source counterparts.

The full presentation is available from SlideShare.


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