Clear benefits to open source, UK survey says

LONDON — A skills shortage is holding back open source adoption, but businesses nevertheless see clear benefits from using non-proprietary software.

These are the findings of a survey of 1,000 IT staff in the U.K., Germany, France and North America.

Fifty four per cent of businesses in the U.K. said the benefits of open source outweighed any negative aspects. This marks a growth on last year, when in a similar survey 45 per cent saw the benefits.

Some 43 per cent of businesses in the U.K. currently use open source. In Germany and France, adoption is higher and more than six in 10 businesses said they regularly considered open source as an option during procurement.

Internet applications and performance management supplier Actuate, which commissioned the survey, said this demonstrated that businesses recognized the lower cost of ownership and the development flexibility of open source software. It cited Gartner predictions that by 2012 some 80 per cent of software will include open source components.

Nobby Akiha, senior VP marketing at Actuate, said: “The findings confirm that open source is not a passing fad, but is being broadly recognized and embraced as offering organizations sustained competitive advantage.”

But the research, conducted by Survey Interactive, also found there were serious concerns about finding the right IT skills to implement and manage open source. Across the four countries surveyed, six in 10 interviewees said they had a lack of in-house open source skills. There was also a shortage of these skills in the market, because of the growth of open source, Actuate said.

The findings contradict some other observations of open source take-up in Europe. At a recent major open source event, Paris Capitale du Libre, speakers said Europe was a long way behind the U.S. in adopting the technology.

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