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Thursday, 01 October 2009 13:23

Open Source software growing in importance

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The increasing ease of integration and compatibility with different platforms has seen businesses in the Asia Pacific region increasingly evaluating Open Source software as a viable alternative as they continue to look for ways to reduce operational expenses.

According to IDC in its Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) Open Source software adoption report for this year, Indonesia is the country in the region that has a high percentage of respondents that plan to deploy new Open Source CRM applications (34.5%) over the next 18 months.

Generally, IDC found that the software with the highest percentage of respondents from each primary market that intend to use Open Source over the next 18 months include CRM applications (9.7%), database management (8.4%), and virtualization software (7.4%).

IDC market analyst of Asia/Pacific enterprise applications research, Ridhi Sawhney, said "verticals like distribution services (13.0%), infrastructure services (12.1%) and public sector (11.8%) plan to deploy Open Source for CRM applications within the next 18 months," and he added, "the public sector has started to consider Open Source not only because of obvious benefits from cost reductions, but also with an aim to build an ecosystem, lower the entry barrier, and promote Open Source adoption.“

According to Sawhney, vendors position OSS as a solution, rather than a point product, by customising to the needs of specific verticals, and he says focus is also on building a partner ecosystem and facilitating vendors’ expansion through partners' sales support and services.

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“There are also many instances of the OSS vendors collaborating to create awareness and generate demand. Examples are Alfresco and SugarCRM Ingres and Jaspersoft; as well as Red Hat and Ingres.

“Other perceived benefits of adopting Open Source, apart from the traditional cost savings, include no vendor lock-in, access to the source code, and the flexibility to further customize the software to match individual needs. All these in turn increase the ease of integration with the existing infrastructure of an organization, as well as the compatibility with different platforms. This gives the organization an opportunity to use and test Open Source without changing their whole IT infrastructure.”

Sawhney said that overall, apart from the large vendors like Red Hat, Sun, and EnterpriseDB that have direct presence in the region, “others rely heavily on their partners. Other sources like Web trainings, pilots, and proof of concept via phone are also widely used,” but, he added, “the lack of direct presence, localization, and support and services offerings continue to be key challenges to get the projects started and lower the common barriers of starting business overseas.”

According to Sawhney, one of the chief fears of end-user organisations is what he says is the “perceived lack of internal and external skills to support the shift towards adopting an Open Source strategy,” and that IDC finds that organisations would be more likely to subscribe to hardware or software support services in order to support Open Source software, followed closely by application management/outsourcing and training/education services.

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