We are in Napa at the Open Source Think Tank (for more information, please see http://thinktank.olliancegroup.com/) and we have had two very interesting panels with CIOs telling us about their adoption and management of open source. They had a very consistent message: open source is everywhere and growing. But open source companies need to act more like traditional software companies: they need to have better support services and more professional sales. They also made clear that the future is "mixed" environment with a combination of third party proprietary software, third party open source software and internally developed software. These statements are consistant with Gartner's recent prediction that 80% of proprietary software will include open source software by 2012. http://blogs.cnet.com/8301-13505_1-9863802-16.html. In the words of Gartner: By 2012, 80 percent of all commercial software will include elements of open-source technology. Many open-source technologies are mature, stable and well supported. They provide significant opportunities for vendors and users to lower their total cost of ownership and increase returns on investment. Open source companies need to be prepared to work in the mixed environment and to find ways for the end user to get support that they need for the entire stack.
In discussing the advantages of open source adoption, they went beyond the traditional focus on price to note that open source adoption also helps build community within the organization and saves time. They also provided some advice for selling to large enterprises: focus on the "use case". As the representative of a major bank noted "Chaos breaks out after the third power point slide" so make sure that your use case appears on slide two. More to come.