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Monday, 16 August 2010 15:02

Open software passes Australian tipping point


Almost two in three Australian enterprises now has a policy or strategy in place regarding the use of Free Open Source Software, with just about every enterprise using elements of open source in their day to day operations.

That's in stark contrast to the situation four or five years ago when 'the policy was 'don't use it',' according to Sam Higgins, research director of Longhaus, which conducted the 2010-11 adoption survey.  Some findings of that survey were presented at the first Splash open source conference held in Sydney last week, which brought together international open source organisations such as Ingres, Jaspersoft, Liferay, Sugar CRM, Pentaho and Red Hat.

According to Mr Higgins the conference marked a 'tipping point' for open software in Australia. 'Splash was the first truly business level open source event. That was a telling tipping point.'

Two years ago 20 per cent of Australian enterprises told Longhaus they were using open source software, today; 'I think you would struggle to find organisations without open source software,' said Mr Higgins. However he acknowledged that not every enterprise actively went out seeking open source systems, but often bought solutions which 'have an open source element.'

'They often don't need to be aware of it. We have been saying for two or three years that by 2010 it will be hard to distinguish and there will be no need to distinguish (open source from proprietary software) because the business models will be so blurry,' said Mr Higgins.

This will be compounded by the continued migration to cloud computing. 'Someone who deploys to the Amazon cloud - well that's a Linux cloud,' he said. By some estimates more than 90 per cent of instances run in commercial clouds are open source.

Mr Higgins said that in enterprises which did have open source  policies, open source software  was often expressly mentioned in purchasing policies with companies instructed that; 'If you go to the market make sure you've looked at open source, and if you go to open source make sure it's supported.'

Longhaus' findings were music to the ears of Ingres ceo and president Roger Burkhardt who was in Australia for the Splash conference. He said that not only were end users benefitting from the maturation of open source, so were software vendors themselves, claiming that; 'Companies which have adopted open source have developed better margins.'

Ingres was established in its current incarnation four years ago when it was floated off as an open source business from CA. It was a good move as according to Mr Burkhardt; 'Without being rude they are the epitome of proprietary software.'

He said since being liberated the organisation, which is privately held, had tripled its revenues and was the second largest pure play open software business after RedHat. He declined to talk about revenues, but claimed that the company had 'transitioned to be profitable in the second quarter,' and now had 260 direct employees and more than10,000 paying customers.

Mr Burkhardt said that Australia had traditionally been viewed as something of a laggard in the move to open systems, but that had been dispelled by the Longhaus findings which showed that; 'Open sources is totally pervasive. One hundred percent of Australian organisations are using open source embedded in their systems.'

Mr Burkhardt is also hoping that the recent release of Ingres' VectorWise database which he claimed demonstrated a 10-80 fold improvement over Oracle, will drive further demand for the company's products. To date no Australian organisation has the system in production, but the system has had positive testimonials from Yellowfin a locally based business intelligence company which has trialled the software.

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