As open-source software (OSS) gains respect in the eyes of the mainstream computer user with success stories such as Firefox, Java, Linux, and MediaWiki (the software used by Wikipedia), more businesses are turning to open-source software as legitimate answers to their software needs.
Common commercial office tools such as MS Office, PhotoShop, and MS Project continue to dominate the market, but open-source alternatives like OpenOffice, Gimpshop, and OpenProj are making waves. Even ERP and CRM behemoths Oracle and SAP are starting to face stiff competition from popular open-source solutions such as OpenBravo and SugarCRM.
Other industry giants are feeling the heat, too---earlier this month, Apple, which has long flirted with giving the public access to its source code, came under increased pressure to open the code for its best-selling iPhone after Google introduced Android, its new open-source platform for mobile phones. Google then upped the ante with a $10 million prize for the best applications created for Android by the user community.
Clearly the lack of a pricey license plan lures many prospective users to open-source software. However, according to Actuate's 2007 survey of enterprise adoption of open source, there are other significant advantages, as well:
The second tier of main perceived benefits are flexibility (48.4%) and access to source code (47.1%). These are followed by vendor independence (38.7%), not being locked into Microsoft (38.7%), being built on open platforms (35.3%), standards-based technology (32.5%) and scalability (30.5%).
To be sure, adoption of OSS has yet to 'break through'. A perceived lack of security is a major reason businesses tend to stay with commercial software (a topic we'll discuss in a future blog post), but the most common reason is a lack of awareness: A third of those surveyed simply hadn't looked into using open-source software.
At PrestaShop, we're convinced the "massive groundswell"1 toward OSS adoption by business will only expand in the next few years. Soon enough, the process of obtaining software will be flipped on its head: businesses will first consider open-source applications, and will then purchase 'closed' software only if it presents a unique long-term advantage.