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More than two-thirds of businesses expect to increase their investment in open source software in 2010, according to a new survey from Accenture.

The survey of 300 large organisations in the private and public sector across the UK and Ireland and the US, also found that 38 per cent of respondents anticipate migrating mission-critical software to open source in the next 12 months. In addition, Accenture said that the financial services sector appears to be leading the commitment and adoption of open source, while the public sector lags behind.

Paul Daugherty, chief technology architect at Accenture, said: “What we are seeing is the coming of age of open source.

“We are seeing an increase in demand for open source based on quality, reliability and speed, not just cost savings. This is a significant change from just two years ago when uptake was driven mainly by cost savings."

Half of respondents also said they were “fully committed” to open source in their organisations, while 28 per cent said they were experimenting with open source and keeping an open mind to using it. Furthermore, 65 per cent of organisations said they have a fully-documented strategic approach for adopting open source, while 32 per cent said they were developing a strategic plan.

Meanwhile, 88 per cent of the businesses that are already using open source said they will invest more in the software in 2010, than they did last year. However, nearly twice as many US respondents said they would increase the investment compared to UK firms.

According to Accenture’s survey, 76 per cent of respondents said quality was a key benefit of open source. In addition, 71 percent cited improved reliability, while 70 percent said that better security or bug fixing was a driver for deploying open source.

Although Daugherty said that cost savings was no longer the main driver for open source adoption, half of the respondents did attribute an overall lower total cost of ownership to open source. The greatest cost savings were noted in software maintenance costs (for 71 per cent of respondents), initial software development time (33 per cent) and initial development costs (33 per cent).

Accenture predicted that the volume of open source software development, as a percentage of all software developments, will rise from 20 per cent last year to 27 per cent by 2013. However, the management consultancy firm found that just 29 per cent of organisations are willing to share their own developments with the rest of the community.

Despite the positive predictions made by Accenture with regards to open source software adoption, the survey found that lack of senior management support was the main reason for open source software being evaluated and then rejected.

Furthermore, 35 per cent of respondents said that the main challenge to its adoption was the training developers require to use open source. Training was a particularly sticking point for UK firms, cited by 41 per cent of UK respondents, compared to no firms in the US, whereas the lack of true open source standards was a greater cause for concern in the US.

Daugherty said: “As open source software is used in more critical business functions the next step will be for organisations to decide whether to actively contribute back to the community.”