Open source software is powering some of the world’s most mission critical systems and producing “tremendous gains” in efficiency, cost savings and quality, according to a report by Computer Sciences Corp.
The report from El Segundo, California-based CSC’s Leading Edge Forum thought leadership program states that open source software is also radically changing the way software is developed and marketed, but maintains that it will not replace proprietary software overnight.
CSC does not view open source as an either-or battle with proprietary software vendors, states the report, rather, open source is about understanding the value that a higher degree of openness and collaboration can bring and applying that to the business.
That said, the low cost of open source software does in some instances make it a natural replacement for proprietary technologies. If you are spending more than $0 to acquire commodity web server software, you are spending too much, said Paul Gustafson, director of the Leading Edge Forum.
The report, entitled Open Source: Open for Business details how and why open source software is making an impact on mission critical environments, and cites Forrester Research figures that indicate that as much as 70% of enterprises are running Linux today, as well as the Apache web server, with 42% using Tomcat, 24% Java libraries, 14% PHP and Perl, 10% JBoss, and 10% Apache Struts.
The 96-page report includes a matrix that organizations can use to calculate the business value of open source to their business, rating 10 open source trends (the culture of community, the open source application stack and market forces) against business drivers such as cost reductions, security and risk management, and technology transparency.
Open source may not be for every situation, but in that case organizations should understand why, states the report. Organizations must examine the business value of open source and look closely at their IT infrastructure and development processes.
Along with an explanation of the open source development process, a list of existing open source projects, an examination of open source licenses and legal implications, and an example of total cost of ownership considerations, the report also includes a list of steps businesses should take to prepare for open source.
These include business strategy steps such as understanding the benefits and costs of moving to open source, administrative steps such as developing legal expertise and ensuring an understanding of open source licenses, and technical steps such as building relationships with open source vendors and encouraging developer involvement with open source projects.
The report also outlines the opportunities CSC sees from providing services around open source software. Open source is an opportunity for service providers who are well positioned to play the role of trusted support provider and fill the accountability gap, it states. CSC is committed to the open source movement.
The service provider is well-positioned to take on open source support because providing IT service and support is its mainline business, it adds. Supporting open source software is an extension of the business, but with a significant twist: the service provider must learn to collaborate with the open source community rather than unilaterally pass problems to a proprietary vendor.
As well as examples of CSC projects around open source software with the Deutsche Borse, the Danish Ministry of Finance, BlueScope Steel in Australia, Deutsche Bank, and the US Navy, the report also outlines CSC’s use of open source components in its Heat security tool and how its shares the source code of its insurance industry applications with customers.