Report: Open Source Adopters Testing on Windows

Trick question: When taking a look at an open source content management application, companies chose to test that application using which operating system?

If you guessed Microsoft Windows, you’re right. That’s according to the findings of a recent survey conducted by Alfresco Software. The company, which makes enterprise content management applications, conducted an opt-in survey to which about 10,000 of its 15,000 community members responded. Nearly as many companies tested the software using Windows as all versions of Linux combined.

Surprise Results

The seemingly counter-intuitive results — indicating that many companies choose to test open source prospective applications using a proprietary personal computer operating system — may make more sense when viewed within the context of enterprises that may be new to the open source world, according to Stephen Powers, senior analyst with Forrester Research.

“It’s possible that, for some of these organizations, Alfresco was their first dip into the open source waters, and they simply weren’t using Linux anywhere else,” he told LinuxInsider. Those companies that do choose an initial open source application may later decide “to go with an entirely open source stack,” he explained.

Among the Faithful

Perhaps not so surprisingly, Alfresco’s survey also found that companies that decided to launch its software — as opposed to those evaluating and testing the applications — tended to prefer open source operating systems, application servers, databases and browsers. That is, when companies eventually adopted the open source content management application, they deployed it using Linux.

The environments of those companies, though, were not as exclusively open source as one might think.

“The survey shows there is a clear leader at each level of the open source stack but also indicates an increasing trend for organizations to adopt a mixed stack, combining both open source and proprietary software, to enable use of best of breed components,” said Ian Howells, chief marketing officer at Alfresco.

For example, users strongly preferred open source Tomcat or Jboss over the leading proprietary application servers from Sun Microsystems, IBM and BEA, even in production environments, according to Alfresco. They overwhelmingly test and deploy using a MySQL database platform. However, Oracle, says the company, was the most popular choice among proprietary databases.

Among browsers used to access Alfresco’s enterprise content management repository, those surveyed tended toward browser client software over portals. Firefox led the pack among preferred browsers.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” said Powers, “that users of an open source application such as Alfresco are implementing it in production using other components of an open source stack.”

US Leads Open Source Adoption

The Alfresco survey also found that the U.S. is leading open source adoption globally.

“The UK lags behind in the adoption of open source suggesting less government emphasis compared with other European countries such as France, Germany, Spain and Italy,” said Howells.

Deployments of Red Hat have grown at a rate twice as fast as those of Novell SUSE since November 2006, according to the survey. The trend suggests that companies may not like the terms of the patent and interoperability agreement announced by Novell and Microsoft at that time, said Howells.

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