Most IT pros prefer open source to proprietary software

Business continuity and control eclipse cost savings are the top reasons why U.S. IT professionals prefer open source to proprietary software. According to a Ponemon Institute study, more than 70 percent of IT professionals in the U.S agree that commercial open source software provides more control and ensures better business continuity than proprietary software.

This research shows that cost savings are no longer the hallmark of open source in the minds of IT professionals, with the ability to lower costs ranking below quality in importance. This viewpoint is echoed by IT and IT security practitioners in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Findings from the survey, which was conducted in the U.S. as well as in 18 EMEA countries, show that 67 percent of IT professionals in EMEA agree with their American counterparts that commercial open source outperforms proprietary software when it comes to business continuity. However, IT practitioners in the U.S. and EMEA disagree on the security and privacy risks associated with collaboration and messaging platforms, both open source and proprietary.

Throughout the study, there is evidence that EMEA organizations are more concerned with the privacy consequences of messaging and collaboration; U.S. organizations focus more on security.

Common among IT professionals is dissatisfaction with their current collaboration and messaging platforms, the majority of which are proprietary software solutions. Consequently, 55 percent of U.S. respondents and 52 percent of EMEA respondents say their organizations will be replacing their messaging and collaboration solutions within two years.

“One of the most interesting survey results was the slow adoption of open source messaging and collaboration software, despite IT professionals’ resounding trust in open source software,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. “With the majority of deployments being proprietary solutions and the sentiment largely negative, I would expect to see increased interest in new solutions that are based on commercial open source.”

Commercial open source outperforms proprietary software in continuity, control, quality and cost:

  • Seventy-four percent of U.S. IT professionals agree that commercial open source software offers better continuity and control.
  • Sixty-six percent of IT practitioners in the U.S. agree that commercial open source software means fewer bugs, and 63 percent believe it will boost quality compared to proprietary software.
  • The ability to lower costs is no longer the main point of differentiation for open source software, according to IT professionals in the U.S. and EMEA; business continuity, control and quality rank above cost concerns, but all outperform proprietary software in the minds of IT professionals.

U.S. employees put their organizations’ security and privacy at risk. According to U.S. IT professionals:

  • Eighty-nine percent of employees do not follow company policy on sharing confidential documents.
  • Eighty percent of employees send and receive files not intended for them.
  • Seventy-four percent of employees use unauthorized messaging and collaboration applications.

IT professionals’ dissatisfaction with proprietary software is an opportunity for open source:

  • Fifty-six percent of U.S. IT professionals are only somewhat satisfied or are not satisfied with their current messaging and collaboration solutions, the majority of which come from proprietary software vendors.
  • Fifty-five percent of IT professionals in the U.S. plan to replace their messaging and collaboration solutions within two years.
  • Ease of use is the most important factor for selecting a messaging and collaboration solution according to 65 percent of IT professionals in the U.S.

“There is significant opportunity for open source to play a central role in the future of security and privacy across the U.S. and EMEA,” said Rob Howard, CTO at Zimbra. “And, the research supports a trend that we see in our own business; open source provides far more benefit than cost savings alone. It delivers on quality and control, and it empowers IT to make an impact on more than just the bottom line.”