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Archive for June 10th, 2008

CIO’s are the weak link in the open source adoption chain

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Matt Asay blogs about a new Forrester report that shows a lower level of open source adoption than he thinks is realistic:


I think it all depends on who takes the survey.

If it is IT guys: they know that open source is being used all over the place and will give you the ‘truth’ about usage of open source.

If it is CIOs: they are often blind to the adoption of open source within their own company, Sun’s Schwartz has blogged about at least on example of this. I have also heard of a CIO who thought that his company was getting Tomcat from the ‘Apache Company’ and was surprised to learn that there was none. CIOs are also more risk adverse and less educated about open source.

It also depends on how you ask the question. If you ask me if expanding my investment in video games for the Wii is a priority for me my answer is no. If you ask me if I expect my investment in video games for the Wii to increase my answer is yes. Its not a priority for me, but I see it as inevitable.

From these results I would predict that the decision-makers taking this survey were mainly CIOs. If this is the case Forrester’s mistake is in surveying the weak link in the open source adoption chain. I say that CIOs are the weak link because they are less educated about open source than the IT community, they are largely unaware how  deep and wide open source adoption already is within their organization. They think that they should be making decisions about the adoption of open source but don’t realize that they are too late. They need to be doing audits and putting governance in place. Otherwise the ‘C’ in CIO is more likely to mean ‘Canute’ than ‘Chief’.

Forrester’s report does highlight a perception issue that open source has amongst certain communities. This provides open source advocates a clear target to shoot at. Upon hearing about Bernard Golden’s upcoming report at OSCON on Open Source in the Enterprise someone asked me if I thought this was old news, generally accepted already, and not worth reporting on. Forrester’s survey show that open source advocates need more facts and reports at their disposal. I am looking forward to his report although none of the people who really need to hear it (CIOs) are likely to be at OSCON.

Written by James

June 10, 2008 at 3:33 pm

Posted in open source