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To read comments to this article, go here
Why EU Companies Choose Open Source. No. Not Lower Cost.
Tuesday, April 26 2005 @ 09:29 AM EDT

This study by IDC is fascinating. Of course, I would like it, because it confirms something I've been saying for a couple of years now, and it always feels good to be right, rare though it may be in life. What drives European companies to use Open Source isn't lower cost, the study found. It's quality and the ability to change the software at will. I knew the latter was important, which is why I was so opposed to indemnification offerings that forbid changing the software without permission.

Here's an article by IT World Canada explaining the high points of the study. If you click on the link, you can buy the study for $5,000+, by the way. They did the study in March and surveyed 625 companies in Western Europe, and they found that a third of the companies "reported significant live use of open source databases." That high percentage surprised them.

Here's a taste of what the IT World article says about the results:

European enterprises are adopting open source software on the grounds of quality and flexibility, rather than merely considering it "good enough" because it is inexpensive, according to a new survey from research firm IDC. . . .

Twenty-five per cent said they had significant open source operating system (Linux) deployments. . . .

Companies did not cite low cost as their main reason for deploying open source, a factor usually considered one of the main reasons for open source's success. Rather, companies said open source's top benefit was the flexibility allowed by the open source licence. "The most important motivator was that they could deploy whenever they wanted, without having to go back to the vendor and negotiate over licences, without having to discuss it with the CFO or looking at the cost implications. They could just do it," Lykkegaard said.

Another surprise was that many companies said the ability to customize open source software was important. IDC didn't suggest this as one of the standard multiple-choice answers. Instead, many companies added it in the "comments" section of the survey. Vendors of prepackaged, proprietary software routinely downplay the customizability of open source, arguing customers are not interested in extending software themselves.

"These companies don't want to start building an application from scratch, but they can build their own additions to an already-complete application," Lykkegaard said. "Because they are part of an open source community, they can feed this back into the software and it can become a part of the next release, meaning people are helping you to maintain your customization." He said many companies turn to customization when they can't find commercial software that meets their needs.


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