Is time spent supporting open source technology slowing innovation?

New data suggests opportunities gained by offloading IT support

By | 1 minute read | November 12, 2019

Nine out of 10 companies use at least two types of open source technology. Yet 53% are unaware of vendors that provide open source support.

The numbers come from an October 2019 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting titled, “Unlock Open Source Technology’s Full Value.” The study findings suggest that when it comes to time and team bandwidth available to innovate, companies may be getting in their own way.

“A beauty of open source is the flexibility that it brings,” said IBM technical executive Rob Coventry. “A downside, as with any other technology, is once you operationalize, it takes more people and time to meet today’s enterprise demands.”

Study findings

The Forrester study quantifies the now widespread use of open source technology and paints a picture of the benefits users aspire to gain from it.

Findings include:

  • 55% of companies use five or more open source technologies
  • 52% experience interoperability challenges with open source technologies
  • 57% rely on communities for open source support

Regarding open source support, it seems relying on peer-t0-peer communities for comprehensive support also appears to come with trade-offs. Real-time support, slow response times and interoperability issues all factor.

“Companies are building complex software stacks using community and commercial versions,” Coventry says. “They’re working 27 hours a day to get it all done.”

Higher value activity

The study looked at companies in North America, Europe and countries in the Asia-Pacific composed of at least 500 employees. Tangled up in all this is the fact that many of them not only are moving open source into production, but also taking on much of the maintenance themselves. That’s time that otherwise may be invested in higher value activity.

“All the tasks related to operational support just increase the pressure for open source developers,” Coventry said. “There’s definitely a need and an opportunity to remove some of the complexity by offloading certain support tasks.”