In Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond’s keynote today at LinuxCon he outlined the trends of OSS adoption in the enterprise. (You can download the slides here .) According to Hammond, open source software has crossed the chasm and is firmly entrenched in enterprises around the world. That wasn’t a surprise to the 800 people in the LinuxCon audience. But his data did uncover something interesting: IT operations people are choosing Linux not just to lower costs but also to fuel innovation and support growth.
Hammond shared data from three surveys Forrester has conducted over the last few years of IT operations directors/VPs and eclipse developers (who are heavy Java users). In a 2008 survey, cost reduction was the driving motivation of CIOs. But one year later, while reducing costs is still important, executives now view Linux as helping their companies go faster. They are choosing it for its flexibility and because it positions them for growth as we come out of the recession.
The survey of Eclipse developers found interesting data around Linux used as a desktop environment. Hammond contends that developers are now influencing technology adoption more than ever before, as open source has allowed them to bypass traditional channels, start using code and then show the business what they can do. While traditional knowledge workers may not use the Linux desktop very often, developers do. In fact his data shows that 30% of developers use Linux for their development machines, with Ubuntu especially doing well. Linux is also the dominant platform for deployment of these applications, with 40% of apps deployed on Linux (compared with Window’s 37%). This is a far cry from just a few years ago.
His data also showed an early indicator that the software version control system Git (another Linus Torvalds creation) is seeing great momentum with a big one year jump from 2% to over 6% of users.
To end his keynote, Hammond shared a best practices list for enterprise OSS adoption. Forrester has found 36% of their clients don’t have an official open source policy. He said you should trust your teams but also use code-scanning utilities and set a contribution policy. We hope our new Open Compliance Program  can help those companies looking for guidance in these areas.
Lastly he suggested the vendors in the audience focus on the secondary virtues of open source software besides cost: speed, flexibility and engagement. In a case study from Sabre, CIOs found that the way their developers related to the business changed once they started using open source. Why? They felt engaged, and part of the process of creating value for their business, not just waiting for their proprietary vendor to come up with a solution. I think anyone who has managed software projects instantly will understand the power of this benefit. Good information for all of us marketing or communicating about Linux and open source.