Open source is eating the software world

An annual survey on the cultural impact of open source software and its wider influence on innovation, hiring practices and work practices suggests that open source is “eating the software world” in no uncertain terms.

The Future of Open Source Survey by North Bridge Venture Partners and Black Duck Software is the seventh annual outing for this PR vehicle.

A total of 800 respondents were questioned from both non-vendor and vendor communities.

“It has been recognised that software is eating the world. Our seventh annual Future of Open Source survey points to the fact that open source is eating the software world,” said Michael J. Skok, general partner at North Bridge Venture Partners.

Editorial note: Skok appears to have found his “software eating” comment on the Wall Street Journal in a feature written by HP’s Marc Andreessen.

“This year’s results signal a shift in reasons why open source is chosen over proprietary alternatives. Increasingly, enterprises see it as leading innovation, delivering higher quality and driving growth rather than being just a free or low-cost alternative. Going forward, as broader adoption creates a virtuous cycle of innovation and investment, we can expect more disruption from open source, new business models and many more exciting new projects and companies,” said Skok.

The survey suggests that in the past, security and licensing acted as traditional barriers to adoption. Now, OSS is driving change from the bottom up, a cultural shift supported by executives openness to work with active and strong communities to influence projects and spur innovation.

Black Duck says that innovation and knowledge of OSS in academia ranked as a leading trend in open source for the next 2-3 years. When hiring new software developers, companies are looking for deep experience versus a wide range of experience, revealing a shift in priorities.

Quality is also a major factor

“Open source has reached a depth and maturity where quality, access to code and costs are no longer barriers to adoption. Quality is no longer a barrier to adoption, instead driving companies to increased OSS use. This trend is reinforced by thousands of developers working to reduce defects in code, improve its security and innovate with new features and enhancements that get closer to what users want – because those users can have a hand in making it so,” says the firm.

The most important factor for OSS adoption was quality, a ranking which increased from third place in 2012. Freedom from vendor lock-in dropped to second place this year, from first place in 2012.

“The results point to a cultural shift in business, where companies are employing a new level of sophistication as they work within OSS communities to attract talented developers and influence projects while maintaining good citizenship in the community. Technology as well as the tenets of open source are being adopted, the surest indicator of the positive changes that can come with OSS,” said Tim Yeaton, president and CEO, Black Duck Software.