Enterprise open-source census underway

The project plans to tackle the fact that a lack of traditional software licences means there is little solid data on how much open-source software is being used by businesses
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

Open-source management company OpenLogic, backed by sponsors such as IDC and Unisys, this week launched its long-promised Open Source Census, aimed at delivering the first detailed survey of how open-source software is used in the enterprise.

The project, announced in December, is based around a tool, OSS Discovery, that scans systems for known open-source projects and anonymously submits the data to an OpenLogic database.

OpenLogic is hoping to tempt enterprise system administrators to participate by giving contributors access to detailed, though anonymised, reports summarising their own open-source usage and providing comparisons with other, similar companies.

The idea is to combat a long-standing problem in the open-source world: the lack of information that accompanies the lack of proprietary licensing restrictions.

Currently, open-source adoption estimates from even the most reputable analyst firms rely on guesswork. Enterprises often don't even know what open-source software is installed on their own systems, open-source specialists have claimed.

"The Open Source Census will provide the industry with much more granular information about where downloads are being installed, enabling both customers and IT solution providers to better understand the true impact that open-source software is having," said IDC programme director Matt Lawton in a statement.

OpenLogic hopes to convince reluctant companies to contribute their data by allowing them to review the scan results before deciding whether to contribute them, OpenLogic said.

The company also has presented a list of well-established sponsors for the project, including IDC, CollabNet, Holme Roberts & Owen LLP, Navica, Olliance Group, the Open Solutions Alliance, the Open Source Business Foundation, O'Reilly Media and Unisys.

Also backing the project are Jim Jagielski, chairman of the Apache Software Foundation, and Tony Wasserman, director of the software-management programme at Carnegie Mellon West.

OSS Discovery and the aggregate results are available from the census website. The census is at an early stage, however: the site currently counts fewer than 100,000 open-source installations in total.

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