May 19, 2011 ­– User confidence in open source continues to grow considerably, according to the fifth annual Future of Open Source survey from North Bridge Venture Partners, conducted with The 451 Group.

A total of 455 respondents took part in the 2011 survey, including both vendors (40 percent) and nonvendor end users across all levels of IT management, from developers to executives (60 percent).

One quarter of total respondents indicated that more than 75 percent of their deployed software is open source. That respondent figure is expected to rise to 27 percent in five years, the results show. Additionally, 56 percent of respondents believe that more than half of software purchases made in the next five years will be open source.

Emerging technology segments such as SaaS, private and public cloud, and mobile devices and applications are influencing open source growth, the survey indicated. In 2010 there were 3,800 new open source based projects in mobile, more than double the number in 2009. More than 470 open source projects are targeting cloud computing.

For the first year ever, lower cost has been overtaken by freedom from vendor lock-in as what makes open source software more attractive. While lower costs drove interest in open source, flexibility was considered a greater benefit after adoption, according to previous 451 Group research.

The results showed that top barriers to open source were lack of internal technical skills (42 percent) and unfamiliarity with open source (41 percent). According to this research, open source customers are now more focused on mainstream technology issues, including improved support, product management, feature functionality and return on investment. Open source users are less concerned with historical impediments to adoption such as licensing or conforming to an organization’s internal policies.

“When we started this survey five years ago, open source was still a movement that was in its nascent stages and its future was promising but still unknown,” said Michael Skok, general partner, North Bridge Venture Partners in the announcement. “The results of this year’s survey clearly demonstrate that open source has gone mainstream not just within the vendor community, but within customer organizations of all types and sizes.”

The most-cited open source vendors were Red Hat, Acquia, Canonical and EnterpriseDB.

A slide show of survey results is available here.

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