2015 Survey Results

The 2015 North Bridge and Black Duck Future of Open Source Study is a review of the 2015 Future of Open Source survey findings in the context of nine years of research and analysis.  

Demographics:  Who took the Survey?

The 2015 Survey was led by North Bridge, Black Duck in collaboration with Jeffrey Hammond, Forrester Research and 43 organizations from startups to leading open source vendors and global foundations.   The survey received 1300 completed responses from Open Source users, vendors, and business professionals across industry with a large concentration of IT and Consulting respondents.

Pervasive Use of Open Source:

The results from the 2015 survey reflect the increasing adoption of open source.  The findings state clearly the pervasive nature of open source and highlight the abundance of organizations participating in the open source community.

Open source continues to speed innovation, disrupt industries, and improve productivity; however, a reported lack of formal company policies and processes around its consumption point to a need for OSS management and security practices to catch up with this growth in investment and use.

The presentation provides additional data points around the pervasive use of open source – including corporate use, participation, and engineers working on Open Source.   Among the key points discussed are:

  • Seventy-eight percent of respondents said their companies run part or all of its operations on OSS and 66 percent said their company creates software for customers built on open source. This statistic has nearly doubled since 2010, when 42 percent of respondents in the Future of Open Source survey five years ago said that they used open source in the running of their business or their IT environments.
  • Ninety-three percent said their organization’s use of open source increased or remained the same in the past year.
  • Sixty-four percent of companies currently participate in open source projects – up from 50 percent in 2014– and over the next 2-3 years, 88 percent are expected to increase contributions to open source projects.
  • Open source has become the default approach for software with more than 66 percent of respondents saying they consider OSS before other options.

To this point, Acquia provides a Case Study on weather.com and remarks from Dries Buytaert, CTO & Co-founder.

The section is summarized by this quote from North Bridge General Partner, Paul Santinelli. “Open source has solidified its position as the default base for software development. It is infiltrating almost every facet of the modern enterprise and is outperforming proprietary packages on quality, cost, customization and security. In the startup community we are seeing a continued wave of open source born companies – the next wave of Red Hat, Acquia and Ubuntu while at the same time seeing traditional IT leaders such as H-P and Microsoft grafting open source DNA into their core. In the coming years, we will see open source unlock the potential of a new generation of technologies – the Internet of Things, big data and cloud computing creating many billions in value.”

The Open Source Advantage:

The growing corporate usage is attributable to the advantages provided by Open Source.  Some of these have been consistently strong from the beginning of the survey history. Among the highlighted advantages are the focus on attracting top IT talent to the organization and the ability to innovate and create competitive advantage for enterprises. Comparing Open Source more specifically to Proprietary software, open source wins in features, ease of deployment, and ability to scale.

Moving forward 2-3 years, some factors that had held back Open Source will become the key attributes of Open Source vis-à-vis the alternative choice of proprietary software, Security, Quality, and Ease of Deployment among them.  Together these attributes are shaping the future of technology and security.  Additionally, fifty-eight percent believe open source affords the greatest ability to scale and 43 percent said OSS provides superior ease of deployment over proprietary software.

Marsec XL presents a Case Study for Bastø Fosen a Ferry operator in Norway. Operating in Norway’s busiest marine traffic area.  The study discusses the advantages of Open Source in real time routing and planning optimization.

Appnovation presents a Case Study for Bay Area Rapid Transit, (BART) Supporting a large ridership (over 400,000 daily riders), with an exceptional digital experience to keep them connected and informed.

Shaping the Future of Technology & Security:

The trend of Open Source driving new technologies continues.   Cloud computing, Big Data, Operating Systems, and the Internet of Things rose to the top of the list.  Security has become a focal  point of discussion for all technology solutions, but despite overall industry challenges around security, confidence continues to rise in Open Source Software’s ability to deliver secure solutions.

  • Fifty-five percent believe open source delivers superior security when lined up against proprietary solutions. The superior security of open source is also expected to rise to 61 percent over the next 2-3 years.
  • When evaluating security technologies for internal use, 45 percent of respondents said open source options are given first consideration.
  • Cloud computing (39%), big data (35%), operating systems (33%), and the Internet of Things (31%) are expected to be impacted most by open source in the next 2-3 years.

The survey respondents choose the “most valuable” Open Source projects.  Among them were Open Stack, Docker, Drupal, LibreOffice, Linux, Ubuntu, and PostgreSQL.

NGINX presents a Case Study for Discovery Education – deploying  NGINX Plus for streaming media, enabling seamless streaming of video content to its growing customer base, at scale, and across all devices.
LibreOffice of the Document Foundation presents a Case Study on an approach to enterprise level migration project.

The Business of Open Source:

Open Source business focuses on the bottom line and also the way Open Source is being implemented in organizations.   Among key business attributes, open source fuels innovation and impacts both revenues and margins.   However, below the surface, the growth of open source has also exposed some of the infrastructure gaps that need to be addressed.  These include governance issues such as Policies and Procedures, Employee Contribution Policies, and Code Approval Processes as well as business issues such as Indemnification.

Supporting data points include:

  • More than 55 percent of respondents said their company has no formal policy or procedure for open source consumption. Moreover, only 27 percent have a formal policy for employee contributions to OSS projects.
  • A mere 16 percent have an automated code approval process and less than 42 percent maintain an inventory of open source components.
  • More than 50 percent are not satisfied with their ability to understand known security vulnerabilities in open source components, and only 17 percent plan to monitor open source code for security vulnerabilities

Wipro presents a Case Study for a financial services company. The financial services company was able to seamlessly migrate applications and adopt open-source in their environment, delivering:

  • Faster time-to-market
  • Increased scalability and flexibility of existing applications
  • Significant reduction in hardware and software licensing cost
  • More control of IT environment and reduced vendor lock-in

Open Source has also continued to attract investments from the Venture Capital Industry in early stage and investments and more recently via acquisitions.    In 2014, there were 39 deals completed for $3.9B. Within its own portfolio, North Bridge holds $1.3B in Open Source companies.

Black Duck CEO, Lou Shipley offers a perspective on governance stating that “companies need their management and governance of open source to catch up to their usage. This is critical to reducing potential legal, security, and operational risks while allowing companies to reap the full benefits OSS provides.”

In the final analysis, however, the question for investors and entrepreneurs is – given that Pervasiveness is evident…. WHO WILL BE THE NEXT GREAT OPEN SOURCE COMPANY?

Let us know who and when you think it will be. Follow us @FutureofOSS #FutureOSS


We'd like to extend a special "thank you" to those who have supported and collaborated with us throughout the years.

The Buzz on Twitter

Interested in open source?

* indicates required

Team Members

Upcoming Events