The open nature of Open Source can make people doubt the technology, but you shouldn’t worry. In 2011, analyst firm Gartner predicted that 99% of the Global 2000 enterprise would include Open Source Software (OSS) in their mission-critical software portfolios by 2016. In fact the trend is upwards with 75% more companies from this grouping using OSS compared to 2010. Among these firms are some very famous brands; they trust Open Source operating systems and applications so you can feel assured that the technology is secure, reliable, efficient and scalable.

I did not know they use open source

Did you know, for example, that Virgin Atlantic uses LAMP software stack for its in-flight video system; and that Facebook uses LAMP Open Source technology? Other household brands like Tesco use OSS too, so you needn’t feel like a guinea pig. The list of well-known companies that utilise Open Source software, operating systems and platforms is huge.

Mike Curtis, Executive Director of Service Delivery at LinuxIT, says that Facebook chose LAMP because “It is extremely scalable and was free at the point of the conception of the idea of the company”. He believes that Facebook is an innovative software company that has “taken the OSS paradigm and used it to their advantage while contributing in return to the community. It is still the right tool for the job.”

Virgin Atlantic chose OSS because it considers it to be reliable, cheaper and because there were “established video streaming projects that could be used and built on to produce a fit for purpose product”, explains Curtis.

Are you still not convinced? Well, there are some myths that do need debunking about Open Source software and operating systems. Kevin Kwang wrote about them in his article for ZDNet Asia on this topic on 15th August 2011. He highlights that Open Source is ready for the “big time”; that companies do use OSS as illustrated above; that Open Source is secure; that it’s not just about IT infrastructure; and he argues that it isn’t difficult to find applications that run on Open Source platforms.

Gartner advises in its ‘Understanding the Impact of Real World Open Source ROI’ report

“Approach Open Source investments with a full-fledged return on investment analysis that addresses not only potential cost savings, but which also increases business value.” The analyst and author of the report, Mark Driver, also recommends that organisations should track these investments over time to gain a full picture of the total cost of ownership.

Mark Reynolds, Director of Technology at LinuxIT, argues that Open Source is a superior product to other proprietary offerings with a proven track record. It is being used in many realms including:

  • E-commerce and the web
  • Social media
  • Mobile technology and telecoms
  • Embedded systems and in scientific projects

He stresses it’s important for OSS to fit in with your organisation’s strategy rather than becoming reliant on one software vendor.

Bryan Foss, a visiting professor at Bristol Business School and an independent commercial and public sector board level advisor, agrees that Open Source is reliable and it can be pioneering. “New applications focus initially on the development and delivery of new functions for the web, tablet computers and for mobiles; and they aim to achieve sufficient acceptance and reliability through quality development”, he says. This requires thorough testing of the functions, edge cases and volumes in order to improve the operational environment. He adds that reliability is “not the main driver, but it must follow promptly.”

For more ideas on implementing Open Source software, take a look at our eGuide ‘The five biggest blunders you can make pushing for Open Source adoption at board level’.