Is the Enterprise ready for Open Source?

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Aug 2, 2011

Stuck in a proprietary software-heavy mentality, enterprises do not typically rely on open source software (OSS) within their business. Yet arguing whether OSS or proprietary software is best for an organization is usually done in vain, as it largely depends on an organization’s needs, their comfort levels in implementing customized applications, and what they want to accomplish with the software (similar to how the debate around cloud computing and server-based software has evolved). All these different types of software implementation strategies cater to different requirements within an enterprise.

But over the past few years, we’ve seen OSS and the cloud become much more dominant on a consumer and SMB level thanks to Android, a sluggish economy, and the dependency of anywhere, anytime access of information. And as the consumerization of IT continues to infiltrate and transform the way organizations run their business, will enterprises who rely on proprietary software and on-premise applications inevitably transition to OSS and the cloud?

Well, why not? As the saying goes, “If the shoe fits, wear it.” If OSS and the cloud could benefit enterprises without compromising productivity and security, then perhaps the transition to using OSS and a type of cloud computing infrastructure isn’t as scary as some enterprises may think. It’s still all about cutting costs while maintaining efficiency across the marketplace. And one of the main forces driving the success of OSS and the cloud is how economical it is. OSS offers businesses free software with more options, as the applications can be customized and further developed by organizations with tech-savvy employers.

The other factor fueling the success of the OSS and cloud computing shift is the demand for it. Because of the low to zero cost of OSS, more enterprises are considering implementing these types of affordable solutions compared to proprietary applications that can be much more expensive to purchase and upgrade. And on a consumer level, Android’s OSS is quickly dominating the smartphone market at just under 50%.

 In terms of cloud computing, InfoTrends predicts in our 2010-2015 North America Network Document Solutions Forecast that as-a-Service revenues will reach over $365,000 by 2015 with a 16.6% CAGR.

So could OSS and the cloud effectively and permanently work its way up to the enterprise level? Possibly, depending on the enterprise type and its needs. But we’re seeing a shift in how and why consumers and SMBs use software and applications, and we’re seeing more software vendors providing OSS together with cloud services, like Ephesoft, Alfresco, and Compiere, for the enterprise market. The combination of all these things only encourages enterprises to make that scary jump from proprietary and server-based software to a cheaper yet effective OSS and cloud infrastructure more easily, and eventually more routinely.

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