How are Enterprises Using Open Source Software?

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On Thursdays I like to cover news from the technology sector and today I’m going to discuss enterprises using open source software. Personally I’ve had the ability to work for small startups and a few Fortune 500 enterprises. Therefore I’ve been able to see how large and small organizations utilize software. Around eight years ago I worked for a large Oil and Gas organization and I was able to see first hand how software was used in enterprise environments.

To put it lightly, back then enterprises despised the thought of open source software. This lead to constant frustrations for myself and the developers I worked with. I remember one time where it took a month to get approval to use the jQuery library for a project.

However, the past few years have ushered in a new era of open source software adoption from enterprises. This diagram illustrates the changing perspective that enterprises have on open source software.

enterprises using open source

Enterprises Using Open Source

Some of the largest organizations in the world have moved away from exclusively utilizing enterprise solutions and have opted for open source alternatives. While nowhere near a comprehensive list, some of these companies are:

Bloomberg

enterprises using open source

As one of the largest financial data service providers in the world, Bloomberg sifts through petabytes of data on a daily basis. In an attempt to effectively work with various big data algorithms, Bloomberg utilizes Hadoop extensively. If you’ve never used it before Hadoop is an open source NoSQL database. Kevin Fleming, who works in the CTO office at Bloomberg said this about how Bloomberg uses OSS.

“We’re not at the point where we have a formal open source program. But over the last three or four years we have begun to strongly encourage developers to use open source tools to solve problems, especially if we can contribute back to those projects as well.”

Microsoft

enterprises using open source

If you’ve worked in a large organization, you’re probably experienced with using the Microsoft Stack. This includes tools such as:

  • ActiveDirectory for user management.
  • SharePoint for file sharing and collaboration.
  • Microsoft SQL for database management.

Even though Microsoft has been an enterprise software leader for years it is starting to embrace open source solutions. In fact Microsoft has spent countless millions of dollars in building their Azure cloud platform. This cloud based application engine embraces open source tools such as Docker, which makes it more straightforward to launch applications.

Microsoft’s enterprise software used to be the bane of my existence. However over the past few years they’ve been making a concerted effort to work with open source systems.

Fortune 500s

A recent TechCrunch article said that the list of Fortune 500 enterprises that use OSS is nearly endless. And the list isn’t limited to technology firms. Companies such as Walmart, GE, Merck, and Goldman Sachs are all embracing open source projects.

Open Source Enterprise Stats

enterprises using open source

If you would have told me, even 10 years ago, that enterprises would start embracing open source software I wouldn’t have believed you. However the numbers don’t lie.

  • Gartner research says that 85% of enterprises now utilize open source solutions in some form or another.
  • ZDNet published research saying that less then 3% of enterprises aren’t using OSS.

Risks with the Adoption of Open Source Software

enterprises using open source

With all of the great benefits that OSS offers, it’s important to also consider the drawbacks. In the same ZDNet post, it revealed some sobering facts.

  1. Over 50% of enterprises don’t understand the security requirements with using OSS. In light of security events, such as the OpenSSL hack it is vital for enterprises to have systems in place to ensure their open source integrations are secure.
  2. The majority of enterprises are not cataloging the OSS tools that the company is using. This type of disorganization can cause potential security vulnerabilities. However just as importantly it can also translate into organizations performing parallel tasks and wasting resources; as opposed to sharing resources. I remember when I was working for a large enterprise we constantly had this issue. We would be working on a specific project and months later would find out that another division in the organization was implementing a nearly identical piece of software. In order to save resources, it’s vital that an organization catalogs each project and piece of software being utilized.

Summary

I hope that this has been a helpful status on enterprises using open source software. If you are in an organization that is using OSS I’d love to hear your opinion on how it’s working for the company.

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