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Over 98 percent of businesses use open source, a figure that is set to cause shockwaves of worry throughout the closed source camps like Microsoft and Apple, according to a new survey by open sauce group Zenoss.
The study, called Zenoss Open Source Systems Management Survey, was compiled over a three-year period utilising data from the over 75,000 members of the Zenoss community and attendees of the Large Installation System Administration (LISA) conferences, run by USENIX, a Unix group otherwise known as the Advanced Computing Technical Association.
It found that 98.4 percent of enterprises use open source in some element of their work. 66.1 percent preferred to use open source software whenever they could. 23.5 percent use open source sparingly. 8.8 percent use open source only when commercial support is available. Only 1.6 percent, however, do not use open source at all.
When asked how satisfied they were with open source, the respondents gave an average of between 7 and 8 out of 10, indicating high satisfaction.
The top reasons for the adoption of open source software are “flexibility” and “cost savings”. With the significant costs involved in buying licences for software to be run on the dozens of computers within a business, it's no wonder that the free open source alternatives would be so appealing.
In fact, the survey discovered that nearly 40 percent of businesses chose open source software as a result of the downturn in the global economy. 13.8 percent said fiscal concerns had a significant effect on their decision to adopt open source.
The most common reason for not choosing open source was “lack of support”, while “poor documentation” was also a factor. Considering that many businesses find it impossible to update their own website without outside help, it's not surprising that the support offered from proprietary software is an appealing reason to fork up large sums of money.
Despite these drawbacks, 46 percent of those asked said there was absolutely no reason whatsoever not to use open source software.
Microsoft, in particular, may be worried at this trend, which sees people dumping its software for free open source alternatives. Linux and Ubuntu have been around for some time, offering an alternative to Windows, while Open Office has been quietly stealing market share away from Microsoft Office. Internet Explorer appears doomed to a slow death as Firefox and Chrome continue to steal its users, with Microsoft even recommending Chrome to those suffering with Hotmail problems.
With the effects of the recession still biting deep, many more business may be forced to turn to open source software, and they may discover that it's just as good - if not better - over big brand names.