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Gartner Gets Open Source


Gartner, the largest and most influential of the IT analyst firms that provides advice and guidance to large corporate users (and vendors) of technology has gotten the open source religion.  Today they kicked off their first Open Source Summit, a 3 day conference in Orlando, which follows their well established application development and integration conference.  The open source section has over 200 attendees which is very respectable for a first time effort, especially since it's a essentially an "add-on."  Gartner has also ramped up the publication of research reports on open source adoption in IT with several recent publications and more than 30 new reports ones planned in the next year.  They are also planning two more stand-alone conferences in the next year.  Clearly, there's interest not only at Gartner but among Gartner's customers, who are typically among the more conservative IT shops. 

The Open Source Summit is the brainchild of Mark Driver, one of the key VP's at Gartner who sets their research directions.  Mark has a strong background in both infrastructure and tools, so its no surprise that he's seen the rapid rise of open source.  Open source has made its way into the enterprise coming through the back door and through tactical projects led by developers, whether it's tools like Eclipse or libraries like Hibernate, Spring as well as runtime facilities like the LAMP stack, JBoss, Tomcat etc. 

Here are a few interesting statistics and predictions from Gartner's recent research that were presented today:

  • By 2007, Gartner expects 75% of IT organizations to have an open source software acquisition & management strategy.  Organizations have a 12-18 month window to get their strategy in shape and those that don't will be at a competitive disadvantage.
  • By 2008, Gartner expects open source software will compete with closed source in all infrastructure areas. 
  • By 2010, Gartner expects mainstream IT organizations will consider open source software in 80% of their infrastructure needs. 
  • Gartner says that open source is the catalyst that restructures the software industry.

As Driver put it, in the infrastructure "open source is a done deal" and its now emerging in every sector.  Driver also said that in his view there's no such thing as an "open source market", rather open source impacts every market.  Further, he said that open source is going to be used whether you know about it or not.  So IT organizations need to make plans now to manage the adoption, otherwise they'll be behind the curve. 

Now while some might wonder what took Gartner so long to come out in support of open source, to their credit, they have been covering Linux for a long time, as well as topics like open source usage in government.  But the real significance of Gartner's actions is that open source is destined to become a safer and more prevalent choice by mainstream IT organizations.  That won't matter to the early adopters, but it matters a ton to the rest of the industry.  I'm not sure what the causality is here, but Gartner only covers billion dollar trends, and I would make the assertion that this is a vote of confidence by Gartner in open source's signficance.  And in case you didn't know it, the Gartner web site runs on LAMP.

I will try to post a few more items from the conference over the next 2 days, including reference to some of the case study examples cited by Ray Valdes such as Sabre, TheFaceBook, Yahoo and others.  Here are a few links to Gartner as well as from Mark Driver's presentations at the Gartner IT conference earlier this fall.


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