Every once in awhile, we are reminded of years past and some of the old attitudes that used to be popular, but have lost credibility over time. The latest comes via a European CIO for GE, who reportedly describes open source as largely relegated to ‘playground’ development and a ‘huge risk’ in mission critical applications and uses.
First off, I would question how aware this CIO is of his company’s use of open source software, including but not limited to Linux, in production, mission-critical environments and applications. In fact, I have heard GE named by at least two open source software vendors I’ve talked with, and the deployments were most certainly not limited to any internal development or ‘playground’ setting. I also wrote about GE as one of the big brands that is using open source.
Second, we have seen a dramatic shift in the risk/benefit outlook on open source software in the enterprise. Driven largely by difficult economic conditions, tightened budgets and time and business pressures, customers who were previously unsure about open source software are now willing to live with that uncertainty and risk to give open source a chance. Our recent survey of open source software users and customers reinforces the idea that open source is now more positively associated with cost savings than it is negatively associated with risk. In response, open source seems to be largely passing the test, meeting or exceeding cost-savings expectations for nearly 90% of our more than 1,700 survey respondents.
Further evidence of open source acceptance and use can be found in a recent survey from Black Duck Software, which found that 22% of code in each of more than 170 sampled projects and applications is open source. What projects and applications to be specific and were they mission-critical? The list speaks for itself: voice applications, video applications, financial software, IT infrastructure, Web sites, customer relations applications, embedded solutions, desktop applications, businss process management, mobile infrastructure and handsets, e-commerce markets, defense electronics. Most if not all are arguably mission critical and most developers and administrators familiar with today’s markets and datacenters will tell you there is plenty of open source software throughout.
Still, there is room for nostalgia and remembering the days when open source software really was viewed as a ‘risk’ for production and mission-critical use. Let’s not forget, though, that those days are long gone.