3 ways many companies are wrong about open source

Adoption of open source software is growing among businesses. However, there are still many organizations that believe these inaccurate open source myths. 

Firms are starting to warm up to open source, according to a recent survey from Black Duck Software and North Bridge Venture Partners.

Among the 820 CIOs and IT managers, 62% said that in five years, more than half of the software systems they deploy will be open source.

Before other businesses join them, some leaders within those organizations will have to let go of these open source myths:

1. Open source software is lacking in quality

In the past, quality used to be one of the top factors preventing greater open source adoption — along with security — and businesses were mainly turning to open source software because of the cost. However, as open source projects have matured, the quality of many of the options out there has improved, and in some cases has even surpassed that of equivalent commercial systems.

In fact, the search for higher quality software was the most common driver for open source adoption among the business surveyed by Black Duck and North Bridge, cited by 92% of organizations. According to businesses that have implemented open source systems, those development communities are often more innovative and help address challenges more quickly than commercial software vendors.

2. Open source is free

As software quality becomes a bigger driver, cost is also becoming less of factor in the decision to move to open source — in part because businesses are realizing that even while licenses for open source software might be free, there are also other costs involved for support, training, implementation, etc.

Exactly how much open source software costs is a frequent subject of debate. For example, Microsoft recently published a study looking at the German city of Munich’s move to open source. The analysis which claimed the city spent nearly twice as much as it would have if it stuck with Microsoft products. However, city officials stuck by their own estimates, which showed a lot of money was saved.

Either way, cost is fading as a driver for open source adoption, according to Black Duck and North Bridge’s survey. In fact, it wasn’t even among the top three factors cited, which were:

  • The quality of the software
  • Freedom from being locked in with a vendor, and
  • The ability to access large software libraries.

3. Open source software isn’t secure

In the past, many companies have avoided open source systems because they were worried about security. However, as many experts point out, licensing methods shouldn’t have an impact on a system’s security. And in fact, many open source projects are more secure because they have dedicated development communities who can quickly find and fix vulnerabilities.

Of course, there are other open source systems that may not be up to par when it comes to security. That’s why it’s critical for organizations to thoroughly investigate a system before implementing it. That includes making sure the software has a large and active development community.

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