Open Source Gaining Traction in Cloud, Mobility: Survey

Open-source software is helping drive innovation in the cloud, mobility, and Big Data, according to the sixth annual Future of Open Source Survey.

The survey is the result of a partnership between North Bridge Venture Partners and Black Duck Software, in conjunction with research firm The 451 Group. Participants included more than 700 respondents from both the vendor and non-vendor communities.

“Taken together with applications like mobile and enabled by cloud, we are entering an exciting new era of ‘Open Innovation on Demand,’” Michael Skok, general partner of North Bridge Venture Partners, wrote in a statement attached to the data, “where not only can [open-source software] innovate faster, it can be deployed immediately and consumed as a service from the cloud.”

Survey respondents felt that the quality of open-source made it particularly attractive. Around 44 percent said that data management would become the segment most affected by open-source software in 2012, while 43 percent cited “project maturity” as the prime factor in choosing an open-source platform for their needs. Open-source will gain a bigger foothold in the enterprise, they felt, especially as projects mature.

Despite the benefits, respondents felt that open-source software presented some challenges, including lack of “internal technical skills” among developers, paired with “unfamiliarity with OSS solutions.”

It’s certainly true that more businesses are considering some form of cloud adoption. That’s driven large IT vendors such as Microsoft, SAP, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and many others to introduce all manner of cloud-based platforms and subscription services. While many of those platforms involve proprietary code, these companies are also looking to open-source software as a way to provide a new level of service.

For example, current rumors suggest that Microsoft is readying the debut of an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform in conjunction with a June 7 event in San Francisco, with Redmond racing to beat a similar (rumored) Google offering to market. Microsoft’s platform will supposedly include the ability to rent Linux servers by the hour, which could increase its appeal to more developers.

Rumors of future products aside, developers are embracing open-source platforms such as R, Octave and Python for a variety of industry and academic applications.

If this survey is any indication of how things will go, the embracing of open-source will only increase within businesses.