It wasn’t that long ago that open source technologies were seen as somewhat fringe, the purview of startups — certainly nothing the enterprise would take seriously.
But oh, have times changed. Companies like Facebook, Netflix and Google have brought fame and fortune to the open source world, and changed its status from an outlier to something much more mainstream.
While many organizations have adopted open source technologies with great results, the enterprise has been slower to get on board. Nonetheless, as evidenced in the recent Rackspace report “The State of Open Source,” it’s becoming clear that open source is increasingly viewed as a professional option for enterprise development and use.
Furthermore, enterprises are eyeing the savings that typically accompany open source projects, and are being won over by what they find.
Open source and cloud have a lot in common. Cloud deployments were often based largely on open source technologies because open source deployments didn’t require payment and permission to adapt to the new model. The proliferation of cloud technologies in recent years has certainly led to the increased acceptance of open source software and paved the way for the growth in enterprise adoption our survey uncovered.
Some of those survey findings include 85 percent of respondents (only enterprise-level companies were polled) who said they had recently migrated a closed source project to open source.
More than forty percent of respondents said they were using open source software free of cost in tandem with open source distributions from a commercial vendor.
And for each project that had been migrated to open source technology, respondents said they had saved, on average, £30,146 (+/- $160,00) and reduced their project lifecycles by six months.
Those are impressive numbers for any organization, but an even larger influence than budget uncovered by the survey was the impression that open source technologies are much more conducive to innovation.
Want to learn more? Check out the State of Open Source Infographic
More than half of respondents believed that adopting open source technologies would help them be more innovative, compared to a slightly smaller number (49 percent), who expected to save costs and be more competitive (46 percent).
The survey also found inhibitors that remain to open source adoption, which mainly revolved around perceived security concerns.
More than half of respondents already using open source cited external security threats as the number one challenge to using the technologies. A similar amount (49 percent) of those who are not running solely on open source see proprietary or closed source technologies as more secure.
This is a significant barrier and similar to wider trends surrounding cloud adoption. But just as cloud adoption continues to increase and prove itself, in many cases, as more secure than on-premises solutions, so too will open source technologies likely prove their security credentials over time.
Other interesting findings from the survey showed that open source is being used up and down the stack, from infrastructure to applications. Application development was the highest open source use case cited by respondents (63 percent), followed closely by web servers (52 percent) and operating systems (51percent).
Another interesting finding (which also mirrors cloud trends) was the hybrid approach many organizations are taking with their open source use. Closed source technologies still play an important role for enterprises, with half (51 percent) of IT leaders who use open source saying they would never become “100% open source” (i.e. use open source for all of their projects), and instead would likely rely on a mixed-source approach and use multiple platforms.
Finally, the survey uncovered a dramatic skills gap when it came to hiring and retaining talent that could manage open source projects.
Only one in three respondents said they have all of the necessary skills within their organization to develop solutions using open source components or technologies (32 percent), implement open source projects (33 percent) and manage those projects (34 percent).
This is where companies like Rackspace can bring a lot of value. When we started more than 16 years ago, one of our earliest missions was to support companies deploying Linux for their web sites. Today we deploy and support a wide variety of open source software at every layer of the technology stack, including things like Linux, WordPress, Apache, MongoDB, Hadoop, Cassandra, MySQL and of course, OpenStack, which we designed with NASA in 2010.
We offer an OpenStack product portfolio that no other provider can match, including OpenStack private clouds (located in a customer’s datacenter, third party location or hosted at Rackspace), the world’s largest OpenStack public cloud and hybrid cloud options (OpenStack private cloud in a customer’s datacenter connected to an OpenStack private cloud hosted at Rackspace; OpenStack private cloud connected to the Rackspace Public Cloud).