UK business confidence in open source grows – survey

And it's not just about licence costs...

A report on business attitudes to open source software published this week indicates steady progress in the UK, with a growing number of CIOs seeing OSS as a means to tackle Total Cost of Ownership, and indications that it is being used in more sophisticated roles. The study, conducted by Trend Consulting on behalf of OpenForum Europe and published this week in the IoD's Director magazine, reveals growing confidence in open source, and notes that avoidance of lock-in is as much a driver as TCO.

Last year's study, conducted before Microsoft's Licensing 6 kicked in, was something The Register at least felt Microsoft should worry about. Licensing costs then were seen as a major TCO issue, and people prepared to grit their teeth and put up with it seemed relatively scarce. This year an almost negligible proportion think software licensing costs have no impact on TCO, and only 7 per cent propose to do nothing about it. 21 per cent say they're looking at open source, while 17 per cent say they'll try to negotiate a better deal. These two strategies, seasoned Microsoft licensing watchers will be aware, are sometimes interwtwined, in that noisily appearing to do the first can often lead to successful negotiation of the second.

Overall only 36 per cent of CIOs use open source in their organisation (one presumes most of the rest are outsourcing their web sites, rather than being completely barking), and this has changed little in the past year. The survey however notes that open source is no longer being just deployed tactically for infrastructure purposes, but is starting to be used in business critical applications, such as email, messaging and on the desktop. There might however be an element of whistling in the dark here - infrastructure and development platform are still overwhelmingly the major uses, although there does appear to be an intention to use open source more for business critical applications in the future.

And confidence is growing. 30 per cent say they remain sceptical about open source, but 46 per cent have greater confidence, and only 2 per cent lost confidence. Humorously, although most public sector respondents were aware of UK government policy on open source, the policy has had virtually no impact on decision-making; 31 per cent of them think the policy is confusing, and the government has a lukewarm attitude. So they read between the lines too - well done, people.

OpenForum Europe launched last year with the intention of helping accelerate market take-up of open source software in business and the public sector. We've noticed it's been remarkably quiet between DTi-backed surveys, but in that case perhaps one can charitably presume that a lot of work went into them. You can get the full survey here. ®

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