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Author Topic: Article: Open source thrives in downturn  (Read 4968 times)
Edvard
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« on: December 10, 2008, 01:56:08 PM »

I wondered (briefly) how profit-making open-source-based companies would be doing in the recent economic downturn. I just got a little bit of an answer...
Quote
Collaboration initiatives are all about streamlining business processes, and the interfaces between legacy closed systems and open source stacks are an increasingly common place to find business collaboration environments.

According to research firm Gartner, open source software is present in 85% of enterprises and the remainder expect to deploy it in the next year.

While the large closed vendors struggle to steer their supertankers through increasingly unsettled waters, open source looks all the more attractive to budget constrained businesses looking to maximize their cost effectiveness.



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wasker
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« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2008, 03:41:13 PM »

Quote
According to research firm Gartner, open source software is present in 85% of enterprises and the remainder expect to deploy it in the next year.

Unfortunately for FOSS advocates the number doesn't say anything. 85% of what kind of enterprises? What kind of software they've deployed? What portion of the enterprise is actually using this software?

Sensationalism at its best.
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40hz
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« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2008, 05:37:06 PM »

Sensationalism at its best.

Hardly.

All you need to do is look beyond the desktop. Open Source is more about enterprise applications than anything else.

Check the deployment statistics for Apache, MySQL, PHP, Python, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and RHEL servers, Wireshark, Nagios, Wordpress and most other blog engines, various CMS  and CRM apps, Squid, etc.

Example: As of Dec-08, Apache is currently by 96 million websites (51% of all registered websites). Compare that to Microsoft's 63 million (32%). Add in nginx and lightppd at 3 million each, and the open source server total stands at approximately 54% of all websites. Google accounts for the rest with its proprietary webstack which is not marketed.

Sensationalism at best? I'd be more inclined to just say "sensational." Wink

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wasker
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« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2008, 06:18:06 PM »

40hz, I'm talking about this particular survey which throws a number out of nowhere without any details and breakdowns.

Thanks for Netcraft stats, but it has nothing to do with this survey. (Although, it's funny that Microsoft's stacks is in comparable numbers with FOSS' -- check the numbers like 5 or 10 years ago).
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40hz
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« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2008, 11:33:12 PM »

40hz, I'm talking about this particular survey which throws a number out of nowhere without any details and breakdowns.

The details are available. Unfortunately, the cited survey was conducted by Gartner Group, so it will cost you some serious money to read them.

Heise Online has a few more specifics about this survey. (my emphasis added)

Quote
Gartner: Open Source is pervasive

http://www.heise-online.c...s-pervasive--/news/111991

About 85 percent of all companies are already using open source; the other 15 percent will follow within the next twelve months. These are the findings of a survey carried out in early summer by market research firm Gartner, who polled 274 companies of various sizes from a variety of sectors in North America, Europe and the Pacific. The survey revealed that open source was particularly popular in the infrastructure sector, but that the number of free business-related applications was on the increase. On the whole, says Gartner, you are just as likely to find open source solutions in business-critical as in non-critical areas.

The three principle reasons for open source that Gartner found are lower software costs, lower development costs and easier start-up of new IT projects. Other reasons frequently mentioned are independence from a single software manufacturer and faster development processes. Customer service applications are the leading non-infrastructure workload for which open source software is used, followed by enterprise integration, finance and administration, and business analytics applications. The biggest problem with open source, according to Gartner, is the fact that nearly 70 percent of those surveyed have no explicit guidelines for the deployment of open source. The full Gartner report is available for $1295.

I must admit, every time I see the price tag on some of these reports I can't help but think I'm in the wrong business!


Thanks for Netcraft stats, but it has nothing to do with this survey.

Out of curiosity, how would you know, unless you have a spare $1295 lying around? (see above) Grin

Still, I have to disagree. Web is at the heart of much of what is considered "enterprise." And Apache deployment is steadily growing.

But my primary intention in citing web server numbers was as an example of the current pervasiveness of open source. Web servers are one of the more reliable stats since the numbers can be easily checked. Most open source deployments are more difficult to verify since we can only go by the number of purchased support contracts which themselves only represent a fraction of the actual deployments.

Then there's that other problem that comes up. Not everybody who is using open source is an advocate for the cause. In fact, many companies who use FOSS applications oftentimes seem reluctant to admit they are doing so. Go figure.

(Actually, I could give several reasons why they don't, but that's a topic that deserves its own thread.)


(Although, it's funny that Microsoft's stacks is in comparable numbers with FOSS' -- check the numbers like 5 or 10 years ago).

I'm not sure what you're saying here...but OK. Grin


Don't get me wrong. I'm not a cheerleader for open source. FOSS will ultimately stand or sink on its technical and economic merits - not its philosophy or good intentions. But I hardly think it's unreasonable to believe that just about every company will be using some open source app in the near future. I can't think of a single company or client that I'm dealing with that hasn't deployed at least one piece of FOSS/OSS software in the last two years. I find that interesting, since four years ago, only one of them had.



« Last Edit: December 25, 2008, 12:03:16 AM by 40hz » Logged

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wasker
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« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2008, 12:21:03 AM »

Quote
The details are available. Unfortunately, the cited survey was conducted by Gartner Group, so it will cost you some serious money to read them.

That is exactly why getting one number (85%) and publishing an article about the pervasiveness of (F)OSS is a pure sensationalism. Without actually answering the questions like those I posted above the number alone doesn't make any sense.

Thanks for Netcraft stats, but it has nothing to do with this survey.

Out of curiosity, how would you know, unless you have a spare $1295 lying around? (see above)

Because if you count in Internet in whole and web infrastructure in particular, your 85% would be 100%.

Still, I have to disagree. Web is at the heart of much of what is considered "enterprise." And Apache deployment is steadily growing.

Oh yeah? Are we looking at the same chart? Starting from 2006 Apache's share goes down and Microsoft's up...

(Although, it's funny that Microsoft's stacks is in comparable numbers with FOSS' -- check the numbers like 5 or 10 years ago).

I'm not sure what you're saying here...but OK. Grin

See above.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a cheerleader for open source. FOSS will ultimately stand or sink on its technical and economic merits - not its philosophy or good intentions. But I hardly think it's unreasonable to believe that just about every company will be using some open source app in the near future. I can't think of a single company or client that I'm dealing with that hasn't deployed at least one piece of FOSS/OSS software in the last two years. I find that interesting, since four years ago, only one of them had.

Actually you do sound like a cheerleader. Wink See, I'm not debating the fact that companies use (F)OSS, I'm debating the fact that 85% number doesn't make sense without any supplemental information that may make this number read a little bit different, that you might think.
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40hz
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« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2008, 12:12:50 PM »

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a cheerleader for open source. FOSS will ultimately stand or sink on its technical and economic merits - not its philosophy or good intentions. But I hardly think it's unreasonable to believe that just about every company will be using some open source app in the near future. I can't think of a single company or client that I'm dealing with that hasn't deployed at least one piece of FOSS/OSS software in the last two years. I find that interesting, since four years ago, only one of them had.

Actually you do sound like a cheerleader. Wink See, I'm not debating the fact that companies use (F)OSS, I'm debating the fact that 85% number doesn't make sense without any supplemental information that may make this number read a little bit different, that you might think.

Again, I'm not exactly sure about what you're getting at. Can you give me an example of how it might "read a little bit different, than you might think"?

I'm reading the headline as saying nothing more than this:

Based on a survey, 17 out of 20 companies that responded stated that they are currently using open source software; and furthermore, those respondents who aren't currently using open source software have stated that they are planning to do so in the upcoming year.

I don't see anything that begs for belief there. Nor do I see much reason to be overly skeptical of Gartner's survey. Although Gartner's trend predictions have sometimes proven wrong, they are not in the habit of making up numbers, or fudging survey results.

When companies are looking to cut costs, they explore alternatives. And when you have a good number of mature, field proven enterprise applications and infrastructure tools that are available without license fees or restrictions, you can bet that any senior IT manager who wants to keep his/her job is staying on top of what alternatives are available. Even if for no other reason than to develop a rationale for not using them.

And while FOSS apps may not be completely free (since support costs are unavoidable regardless of which software gets deployed) the lack of that upfront cost still makes them worth serious consideration. Especially when the code quality of major FOSS apps is as least as good as their commercial counterparts


Quote
Actually you do sound like a cheerleader. Wink

Hmm...that comment sounds a bit little personal, but ok...  Grin

Either way, I don't understand how citing my experience with my own clients should make me sound like a cheerleader. My point in sharing it was that I myself am seeing this very same trend in the companies I work with. And since my primary business is supporting Microsoft products, the fact that FOSS/OSS is making such inroads is actually "just one more thing" I have to deal with rather than a source of excitement.

Am I a cheerleader? Nope. Not at all. Just a realist attempting to deal with a changing business environment and evolving customer demands. But maybe that's just how it looks from where I sit.

So... what trends regarding open source are you seeing with your clients?

 Cool


« Last Edit: December 25, 2008, 12:15:58 PM by 40hz » Logged

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wasker
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« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2008, 01:06:57 PM »

I'm reading the headline as saying nothing more than this:

Based on a survey, 17 out of 20 companies that responded stated that they are currently using open source software; and furthermore, those respondents who aren't currently using open source software have stated that they are planning to do so in the upcoming year.

I don't see anything that begs for belief there. Nor do I see much reason to be overly skeptical of Gartner's survey. Although Gartner's trend predictions have sometimes proven wrong, they are not in the habit of making up numbers, or fudging survey results.

Again, I'm not exactly sure about what you're getting at. Can you give me an example of how it might "read a little bit different, than you might think"?

Okay, let's say I'm a big corp who decided to deploy KeePass all over the place: is it a big win for OSS community, considering that big corp is still using Exchange, Outlook, SharePoint and IIS for their day-to-day business?

Or, my company went 100% FOSS: Linux desktop, whatever else FOSS software you can think of. Is it a huge gain for FOSS community, given that my company is a mom and pop's shop around the corner?

Can you see my point now?


So... what trends regarding open source are you seeing with your clients?


They don't use it. I kid you not. When my company is in discussion of new project for a huge corp client, they explicitly say they don't want to use OSS, because they want to have someone behind the software.
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40hz
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« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2008, 02:21:41 PM »

Okay, let's say I'm a big corp who decided to deploy KeePass all over the place: is it a big win for OSS community

I think you're begging the question here by deliberately selecting a minor  app like Keypass as your example. We were talking about enterprise apps rather than desktop weren't we?

Why not say something Nagios? Or FreeBSD server? Or Squid?

I'm also not certain what you mean by a "big win" for the OSS community. They're not competing in the Microsoft sense of the word. They're just offering an alternative to the "received wisdom" that Microsoft is the only viable IT solution out there. FOSS believes there's room for alternative products in the marketplace. Microsoft does not.

Quote
considering that big corp is still using Exchange, Outlook, SharePoint and IIS for their day-to-day business


A "win" for Microsoft no doubt, but it doesn't automatically follow that Microsoft's win is also a win for Big Corp. Unless, of course, you work for Microsoft.

BTW: I'm curious, do you?

Or, my company went 100% FOSS: Linux desktop, whatever else FOSS software you can think of. Is it a huge gain for FOSS community, given that my company is a mom and pop's shop around the corner?

Yes, it is.

 Again, it's about awareness and alternatives, as much as it is about technology and numbers. FOSS believes there should always be alternatives. And that people should be aware that they have choice in the matter. Apparently FOSS doesn't share the same attitude towards "Mom & Pop" businesses that some do.

And it's also instructive to remember that many large and successful corporations (Microsoft included) started out as very small businesses.

Quote
They don't use it. I kid you not. When my company is in discussion of new project for a huge corp client, they explicitly say they don't want to use OSS, because they want to have someone behind the software.


Odd. My company may not be in the same league as yours, but here in southwestern CT and NYC, where we do work with some very major Fortune 100 corps, I'm hearing - and above all seeing just the opposite.

Guess it all depends on where you are.

And FWIW, there is somebody behind most of the enterprise FOSS apps. And that remains true despite the disinformation that gets constantly marketed to corporate IT departments. To a certain extent, FOSS even gives a company more control by making its source available. The company can even put its own IT behind it, if they so choose, and make the app completely their own.

Then there's one other dirty little truth to consider: Usually, when a corporate employee talks about having someone "behind" something, what they're usually looking for is "plausible deniability" coupled with a convenient "fall guy."

Consider: If your IIs server gets hosed, you can always blame $%#@@# Microsoft, since everybody knows all about their patches and problems. But if your corporate Apache-based server crashes...well, you should have known better than to have used a piece of "free software."

Much like back in the days of IBM's mainframe empire, nowadays "Nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft." Once again, it's a case of old wine in new bottles.

Can you see my point now?

Yes I do. I just don't think it's correct, nor do I agree with it. smiley




« Last Edit: December 25, 2008, 02:24:51 PM by 40hz » Logged

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wasker
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« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2008, 02:36:14 PM »

I think you're begging the question here by deliberately selecting a minor  app like Keypass as your example. We were talking about enterprise apps rather than desktop weren't we?

Finally you got it! Now you have a number (85%) and NO additional information and you're so happy to read about 85% completely neglecting the fact that you don't know a thing about what this number consists of.

And it's also instructive to remember that many large and successful corporations (Microsoft included) started out as very small businesses.

Sorry to rain on your parade, but 99% of Mom and Pop's businesses will either stay as Mom and Pop's businesses or go out of business altogether.

PS.
No, I'm not working for Microsoft.
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« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2008, 03:05:07 PM »

The economic issue involved is complicated by regional piracy around the globe. I cheerlead open standards because of what Simon Phipps teaches us about the 'freedom to leave.' Proprietary software is designed to lock the user in, not to be compatible with, or collaborate and interoperate with another platform. These are recognized strengths of open source, beyond cost benefits, though open source does not equal "free" software (as in price).

In practice today, I think the balance and competition between proprietary and open source software is improving software in general and driving innovation. We even need vigorous competition within the open source world if we choose to ignore proprietary software. One example: the emergence and popularity of Firefox has goaded Microsoft into making IE better.

We all want better software. We all want software that gets the job done with the flexibility and assurances for the future that our situations require. Competition among software providers is good for consumers, especially when there are open standards that allow interoperability and interchangeability. If commercial vendors develop to their own standard, they won't be getting much business in the next 20 years, I can promise that.
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40hz
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« Reply #11 on: December 25, 2008, 06:17:08 PM »

PS.
No, I'm not working for Microsoft.

Bummer! The only reason I asked is because a lot of what you are saying (along with the overall tone) strongly resembles things I see on the Microsoft Partner website and in TechNet white papers.

It's hard to find Microsoft employees that are willing to get into an open forum discussion. (I suspect they have a corporate policy about them not doing that.) Still, I was hoping you were with Microsoft since it would be refreshing to get into a conversation with someone who's with The Mothership.

Hope you weren't offended by my asking. Thmbsup


Finally you got it!

Yup. And I disagree.

(Actually, I "got it" quite a while back. Trust me, I'm nowhere near as dumb as I look. Wink )


Now you have a number (85%) and NO additional information and you're so happy to read about 85% completely neglecting the fact that you don't know a thing about what this number consists of.

Hmm...I didn't realize I was "so happy" to read about anything. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. And all this time I just thought I was sharing my thoughts and opinions on the topic. smiley

And I do know something about that 85% that seems to bothering you. I know that Gartner:

   a) knows what constitutes open source software

   b) surveyed 274 companies

   c) found that 233 of those 274 companies (i.e. 85%) were using open source software

   d) were told by the remaining 41 companies that they planned to use open source products in the upcoming year

and

   e0 (as was mentioned earlier), that their report also included the following:

Quote
The three principle reasons for open source that Gartner found are lower software costs, lower development costs and easier start-up of new IT projects. Other reasons frequently mentioned are independence from a single software manufacturer and faster development processes. Customer service applications are the leading non-infrastructure workload for which open source software is used, followed by enterprise integration, finance and administration, and business analytics applications. The biggest problem with open source, according to Gartner, is the fact that nearly 70 percent of those surveyed have no explicit guidelines for the deployment of open source.

To my way of looking at it, this is all rather clear: A product is either open source or it's not. Either 233 out of the 274 surveyed companies are using open source, or they're not. Gartner is either truthfully reporting their findings, or they're not. And the reasons Gartner has reported they were given by the companies surveyed are either true, or they're not.

I really don't see what is so mysterious or hard to comprehend. The definitions and numbers are very specific. Now, I know it has become fashionable, in some quarters, to automatically dispute any statistical claim. But considering when you look at the specifics, this is hardly a figure or report that lends itself to that sort of debate.

I think I have a considerably more to go on than you have with your assertion (which you continue to repeat without offering any specifics) that this 85% number is meaningless.

Sorry to rain on your parade, but 99% of Mom and Pop's businesses will either stay as Mom and Pop's businesses or go out of business altogether.

Interesting...I wasn't aware I even had "a parade" to rain on. But to your comment about small businesses: So what?

If they do go out of business, or stay small, I doubt (except in very special cases) that it would have much to do with what software they were running.

(Actually, I've heard different than 99% - but I suppose that too would depend on whose reported numbers you choose to believe and whose parade you wanted to rain on. Grin)

-----------------------

OK. Seems to me like you and me are starting to go around in circles, so I'm going to bow out of the conversation and let somebody else take the floor.

Anybody else out there that "Gets it?" Grin

« Last Edit: December 26, 2008, 07:21:45 AM by 40hz » Logged

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Edvard
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« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2008, 11:23:43 AM »

I think the original intent of the article has less to do with the statistics of WHO is installing WHAT, but to show how an economic downturn has far less impact on deployment of Open Source technologies and in fact has a sort of 'boosting' effect as more companies are turning to the best solution for the lowest price.

This also means is that 41 of those companies were either NOT investing in new thingummies and sticking with what they already paid for (not spending anything), or upgrading what they already had in place (spending as minimally as possible).

AND we're talking major players here, not mom-and-pop stores. This is a BIG survey of BIG companies. Which is how Gartner gets away with charging BIG money for survey results. And I highly doubt anybody is going to deploy KeePass and then report it in bold type on their bottom line.

Wasker, I would also be hungry to know exactly WHAT they are deploying and just how mission-critical it is, but rest assured it would be anything trivial.
Sensationalism? What else can you say about something sensational?
 Thmbsup
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40hz
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« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2008, 11:53:56 AM »

I would also be hungry to know exactly WHAT they are deploying and just how mission-critical it is,

Edvard: I think this can assuage your hunger for "More Cowbell." Grin

Heise Online covered the Gartner report in a bit more detail. Full article at:

http://www.heise-online.c...s-pervasive--/news/111991

Quote
The survey revealed that open source was particularly popular in the infrastructure sector, but that the number of free business-related applications was on the increase. On the whole, says Gartner, you are just as likely to find open source solutions in business-critical as in non-critical areas.

***

Customer service applications are the leading non-infrastructure workload for which open source software is used, followed by enterprise integration, finance and administration, and business analytics applications.

These sound like fairly business-critical apps to me. Wink

And yes, I must confess...I was sorely disappointed not to find any mention of Keypass in there...<*sigh*>...  Grin

« Last Edit: December 26, 2008, 12:07:52 PM by 40hz » Logged

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