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LinuxCon Preview: Is FOSS Becoming More About What Execs Need Than What Developers Want?

Our latest in the LinuxCon Preview series takes a look at what Forrester Analyst Jeffrey Hammond will be sharing during his keynote at the event in three short weeks. One of the primary trends he will talk about is the level of awareness about Linux and open source at the executive level and how that is impacting who is making the software acquisition decisions going forward.

You were on a panel at LinuxCon last year. This year, you have a keynote slot all to yourself and will be talking about open source adoption trends in enterprise IT. Can you share with us at least one of those trends and the primary drivers for it?

Hammond: Sure – at the risk of tipping my hand a bit, there has been a big change in the awareness of open source at the executive level. The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is no more. This changes the opportunities that open source companies have; they’re likely to find the door to the corner office more open than ever. But this also means that the way that we use FOSS in the enterprise will change, as it becomes less about what developers want, and more about what execs need.
 
Forrester has a fairly new Developer Technographic Research tool. Can you tell us more about it and what you’re finding out about development trends?

Hammond: It’s pretty simple – the best opinions about what’s going on in the market are those that are informed by quantitative data. If you believe that developers are leading indicators of technology adoption, then it’s worth analyzing what tools, devices, and operating systems they are using as a long-term predictor of the movement of technology. We try to collect this data on a regular basis so we can look for changes, like the emergence of open source ALM tools, as an example.
 
You recently found that a new generation of developers is choosing to deploy web and enterprise apps on Linux. Why?

Hammond: It comes down to barriers of adoption. As a developer you can download a LAMP stack or Spring and Tomcat and start work, or you can wrangle with purchasing for eight weeks and try to get the licenses you need. Developers generally don’t like spending time sitting on their hands waiting for purchasing agents to make them jump through hoops; they’d rather write code.
 
Your research has also indicated that the choice to deploy Linux and open source is no longer just about cost. What are the primary drivers for adopting Linux and open source today?

Hammond: Long term we see two trends that emerge. One is about flexibility – in sourcing, support, and deployment. The other driver is that over time, the use of OSS tends to change the culture of development shops. It increases developer engagement and tends to attract developers with a higher degree of intrinsic motivation to the shops that use it.

Increasing adoption also means increasing expectations. What do open source vendors and community members need to do to help IT managers deploy these technologies?

Hammond: The focus on easy installation and set-up use cases has to improve. I’d also say that the project structure that requires IT contributions to be assessed and integrated all the way to the committer status must change. Licenses that don’t require IT contribution of changes are also useful, at least until management gets more comfortable so that they can contribute without exposing themselves to additional legal risk.

 

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