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Study: Cost Not Only Open Source Driver

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Price isn’t the driver of the decision to use open source software, according to a report by Evans Data.

The Santa Cruz, Calif.-based IT market research firm released Open Source Vision on Wednesday, a qualitative report focused on the business of open source software (OSS).

While the lower cost of OSS is an important factor, it isn’t the deciding factor, said Evans Data COO John Andrews. The survey said cost was in the top five decision criteria across small businesses to enterprises.

”Everyone in the industry is conditioned to pay for value,” he said. ”People see different value points in the open source model, i.e., they don’t mind paying for service and support. They don’t really want to pay for software.”

Stacey Quandt, principal of the IT analysis firm Quandt Analytics, agreed. ”Many users gravitate toward [open source] or consider it because of the perception of lower cost,” she said. ”But, when someone chooses open source software, they’re choosing it based on technical requirements.”

Besides, Quandt added, “”Software costs are a small percentage of an overall IT budget. The largest part of the IT budget is usually staffing, not software.”

Quandt agreed that the market perception has changed. ”People are using not just the operating system,” she said. ”Customers are looking at application servers like Jboss or Gluecode. It’s definitely moving up the stack.”

Andrews said for a large segment of the companies Evans talked to, OSS technologies and tools have matured, and issues of stability or performance have been resolved.

John Koenig, principal of Riseforth, a consulting service for software vendors, said many software developers and end users are attracted to a different kind of free. ”They have the ability to do what they want with it: Put it anywhere you want, change it if you want — and sell it if you want, in a lot of cases,” he said.

Among software developers, Evans Data has found a rising trend toward including open source modules. While 38.1 percent said they used OSS modules in their applications in Spring of 2001, in the most recent survey, 56.2 percent said they had.

Andrews said enterprise adoption of OSS is accelerating. ”Over the past year, we’ve seen a higher adoption curve than we’ve seen in past reporting periods,” he said. In large part, he believes, that’s due to the fact that some enterprises have standardized on open source products.

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