Canadian companies are open source wary

Although open source software (OSS) has piqued the interest of Canadian enterprises in the past few years, adoption rates for OSS remain low, according to a recent survey by IDC Canada Ltd.

“Open source and Linux are not key components to Canadian organizations’ business and IT strategies at this time,” said Dave Senf, program manager, IT/Business Enablement Advisory Service at IDC Canada in Toronto.

Despite the Linux buzz, by and large the most widely-deployed OSS is the Apache Web server, which is also the most widely used Web server in the industry, Senf said. Thirty-four per cent of 89 IT professionals surveyed have deployed an open source Web server, while nine per cent said they might deploy one in the next year. Twenty-one per cent are considering deployment while 27 per cent are not considering open source Web servers.

Meanwhile, in the world of Linux, deployment of the operating system is generally limited to the server. Of the 89 IT professionals surveyed, 21 per cent said they had deployed an open source operating system, 21 per cent said they may deploy one in the next year and 19 per cent are considering deployment but have no concrete plans. About 32 per cent said they are not considering open source operating systems at all.

When it comes to Linux on the desktop only 4.5 per cent of respondents have deployed. Eleven per cent of respondents said they might deploy OSS on the desktop while 28 per cent say the are considering deploying OSS on the desktop. Senf said this heightened level of interest won’t translate into deployment.

Senf said IT managers quickly realize that knowledge workers would not be able to gain the same efficiencies from OSS that they already have with their Microsoft Corp. suite of products. Although Linux on the desktop is unlikely to become mainstream, increased acceptance of Linux in the enterprise is starting to give other OSS some street credit.

“Users are becoming more comfortable with the open source model because of Linux. That being said, organizations will still judge the applicability of open source in their organization on a project by project basis.”

Open source databases such as MySQL and PostgreSQL, application servers like Jboss and development tools such as Eclipse are all garnering more support and greater interest from the mainstream IT community. Eighteen per cent of respondents have deployed open source databases, with 10 per cent saying they might an open source database within a year. Twenty per cent areconsidering open source databases but 43 per cent are not considering them at all.

One area where there has been virtually no movement is the open source enterprise application software area. Applications like Sugar.CRM are still not mature enough for deployment and organizations in Canada are still not at the stage where they are ready to deploy open source application software, Senf said.

“The coders are still building out the code and a lot of [open source application software] are just ideas and visions,” Senf said. So while businesses are still not deploying OSS in droves, there is still the perception that OSS is cheaper than proprietary software.

IDC Canada surveyed 148 individuals, half on the IT side and half on the business side. Seventy-three per cent of IT professionals had the impression that OSS was slightly cheaper or much cheaper than proprietary software compared with 57.6 per cent of business management. Seventeen per cent of IT professionals said it was the same, while 22 per cent of business people said it was the same.

Ten per cent of IT professionals said it was higher or much higher compared with about 20 per cent of business executives who said the same thing. The majority of both IT managers and business executives surveyed agreed the acquisition cost of OSS was lower than that of proprietary software. However, the costs of integrating open source software were perceived to be higher as well as the cost of installing and deploying open source software.