Open source software has been implemented by 46 percent of businesses, or they plan to pilot it this year, according to a Forrester Research survey of 2,200 IT executives in the UK, France, Germany, the US and Canada.

France and Germany lead the open source adoption, with 58 per cent and 49 per cent respectively, having implemented or planning to implement the software, Forrester stated in the ‘Open source software goes mainstream’ report. The UK is slightly behind this average, at 40 per cent.

The main motivation to move to open source is cost savings, with 56 per cent of respondents citing this. The “cost cutting crisis” during the recession should be seen as an opportunity to move to open source, the analyst house said.

And the planned implementation or expansion of open source software in businesses is higher than that of any other technology, including business process management, application lifecycle management and enterprise service buses.

According to Jeffrey S Hammond, principal analyst at Forrester, open source software is the “primary enabler of [open source] tech populism”. As more companies use open source, more levels in the IT department will gain a “proactive handle” on managing the technology, it said.

“Banning OSS will become an increasingly untenable option,” Hammond wrote. “The net result will reset pricing expectations in development shops and tilt technology selection away from single vendor stacks toward best-of-breed solutions at commodity prices - especially at the lowest levels of the application platform stack.”

In spite of this, businesses need to beware of “uncontrolled tactical use” of open source, and instead develop “sound OSS adoption policies”, Hammond said. A third of firms said they still have no formal open source policy.

Those working in firms that have not yet adopted open source should argue for it on the basis of the current economic climate, he said.

CIOs at Birds Eye Iglo, the food manufacturer and global property management company DTZ are amongst the British CIOs that have told CIO UK that they do not believe open source is a viable alternative for major corporations. Their full thoughts on open source can be viewed in these CIO UK videos.