Red Hat Research: Open Source Software Playing a Growing Role in Enterprise IT

Open source is being used by a majority of IT organizations and is bringing in useful innovation.

Todd R. Weiss

April 23, 2019

3 Min Read
Medical Researchers, life science

Twenty years ago, open-source software was still in its infancy in the world of business IT, with few if any companies running open source for critical business operations. But in 2019, that has changed dramatically, with a majority running open source in a wide variety of uses within their businesses.

To learn more about how open source software is being used inside business IT today, longtime open source and Linux vendor Red Hat just unveiled its first State of Enterprise Open Source study, which found that some 83% of companies are using open source. And among those users, the top three drivers for using open source are modernizing IT infrastructure, developing applications and for integrating applications.

The survey, which gathered responses from IT leaders from 950 medium to large companies around the world that use Linux, found that the top three benefits of using open source are a lower total cost of ownership, access to latest innovation and better security.

The report also found that a barrier to further open-source adoption is a shortage of internal IT workers who possess broad open-source skills, especially in the U.S., with some 36 percent of respondents sharing that view.

Gordon Haff, a Red Hat technology evangelist, told Channel Futures that he finds the survey results very encouraging because of the high number of respondents who identified open source as a source of true business innovation and as something that is strategic to their companies.


Red Hat’s Gordon Haff

“That’s very good to hear,” said Haff. “Originally, open source software was seen as coming from a place that was cheaper than UNIX and cheaper for use with infrastructure servers. It was seen as good from a cost perspective, but not something IT leaders saw as central to their businesses. Now it’s allowing innovation and more.”

For the channel, open source has been having similar impacts as well, said Haff.

“One of the transitions that we’ve seen over time, even beyond open source, is traditionally people have looked at the channel as order takers” for new technology, he said. But as open source continues to grow in use within enterprises, that is changing.

“Some of the perceived concerns about using enterprise open source are things that the channel can do, such as providing training, support and those kinds of things” to drive use and adoption, said Haff. “The other comes back to the innovation message, that the channel shouldn’t be looking at enterprise open source as cheap software but should be looking at it as software that can deliver enterprise value that proprietary software can’t,” he said.

Business interest in open source today involves containers, data analysis, big data, Kubernetes and lots of other areas where innovation is occurring, said Haff.

“If the channel wants to be involved in that stuff, enterprise open source is pretty much where it’s at,” he said. “The survey results as a whole show that IT leaders are very interested in open source. If the channel pooh-poohs it, then they are out of step with your customers at that point.”

Many systems integrators, MSPs, telecom providers and others are already involved in open source by offering application integrations to help customize open source code for customers, he said.

“There’s always a pull to pull the channel higher up in the value chain” by helping and advising customers on open source while also contributing code to projects, said Haff. “As it gets into more and more areas, it does make sense to have more of a vertical role in terms of infrastructure for channel partners. I don’t think we are really fully there yet today, but there certainly seem to be more opportunities there.”

About the Author(s)

Todd R. Weiss

Todd R. Weiss is an award-winning technology journalist who covers open source and Linux, cloud service providers, cloud computing, virtualization, containers and microservices, mobile devices, security, enterprise applications, enterprise IT, software development and QA, IoT and more. He has worked previously as a staff writer for Computerworld and, covering a wide variety of IT beats. He spends his spare time working on a book about an unheralded member of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves, watching classic Humphrey Bogart movies and collecting toy taxis from around the world.

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