Focus on open source software changes IT services dynamic

Posted by Mike Vizard on May 19, 2015 11:13:24 AM

15587276910_3c963b0b10_zRegardless of whether it makes financial sense or not, IT organizations of all sizes have adopted an open source first mantra. Rather than spend their money on commercial software, they’ve made it clear they would prefer to throw labor at their enterprise software challenges. After all, not paying for commercial software enables those organizations to keep more IT staff on the payroll.

That’s not necessarily the wrong decision. By investing in labor, those organizations get to retain  software expertise at a time when every company is becoming a software company to one degree or another.

The adoption of open source software

This dynamic was made more apparent in the results of a global survey of 310 IT decision makers that was recently released by Red Hat. According to the survey, 75 percent of the respondents are planning to use OpenStack as a part of their cloud strategy.

Those results come on the heels of a larger survey of 1,300 IT professionals conducted by Black Duck Software, a provider of IT security software, and the venture capital firm North Bridge. That survey found that 78 percent of respondents were using open source software to one degree or another, which is twice as many as those polled in 2010.  

IT service providers between a rock and a hard place

That expansion of open source software cuts both ways for IT service providers. On the upside, all that open source software needs to be integrated, and internal IT organizations frequently find themselves in over their heads when it comes to actually deploying open source software in production environments. Before too long, they wind up making a call to their local IT services provider for help.

On the downside, however, many IT services providers turn a nice profit reselling commercial software. For example, instances of OpenStack running on top of open source Kernel-based virtual machines (KVMs) tends to depress sales of VMware software licenses.

The primary argument against open source software has traditionally been support. But it’s clear today that a vast ecosystem of vendors and IT service providers are more than happy to provide support for open source software if needed. In fact, most of the businesses that back open source projects are counting on at least some of the organizations that adopt the project to pay for support.

There are, of course, warring camps inside the open source community. When one vendor implements a piece of open source code, it won’t necessarily be done in a way that makes that offering compatible with a product from another vendor that uses the same open source code.

It’s also clear that the open source community is more than able to build enterprise-class software that stands the test of time. In fact when it comes to open source, the only issue that internal IT organizations and service providers alike have to contend with is making sure their people don’t spend more time contributing to the community rather than doing the job they were hired to do. 

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Photo Credit: Kristina D.C. Hoeppner on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license. 

Topics: IT Services Trends, Cloud Industry and Technology

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