It takes an open-source village to make commercial software

Looking ahead, the Linux Foundation sees 80 percent of all commercial software development being based on open source.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Napa Valley, CA: At the Linux Foundation's Linux Collaboration Summit, an invitation-only event for top Linux and open source developers, Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Foundation, said in the keynote: "Open source will be the new Pareto Principle." By that, he meant that 80 percent of technology value—whether it's  from smartphones, TVs, or IT—will be coming from open source software development with only 20 percent coming from proprietary programming.

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Open-source collaborative software development has become vital for top technology businesses IT research development.

As Zemlin pointed out, "Np one makes anything these days without open source software. Phones, TVs, even at Apple, you'll find the GPL and dozens of open source programs being used in every single iPhone and iPad."

He wasn't just picking on Apple, which has a long history of repurposing open source software. Mac OS X at its root grows from the fertile earth of BSD Unix. In The Linux Foundation's just released Collaborative Development Trends Report, Zemlin said, "We see many companies have already moved to open source software. This report shares the results of an invitation-only survey of nearly 700 software developers and business managers about their participation and investments in collaborative development practices."

The companies polled are the industry leaders driving this collaborative development revolution and include such top IT businesses as Cisco, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Intel, Google, NEC, Oracle, Qualcomm, and Samsung. The majority of respondents (69 percent) work at organizations with $500 million or more in annual revenue and more than 500 employees (76 percent).

In particular, this survey looked at open source collaborative projects. As Zemlin said in his keynote, "The rise of Linux and open source tools and components in the enterprise software industry over the past decade has been well documented. More recently, a new business model has emerged in which companies are joining together across industries to share development resources and build common open source code bases on which they can differentiate their own products and services. … In the past, collaboration was done by standards committees; now it's being done by open source foundations."

The key findings from the report were:

Companies get involved in collaborative software development to advance business objectives and to be part of industry innovation. Ninety-one percent of business managers and executives surveyed ruled collaborative software development somewhat to very important to their business. And nearly 80 percent say collaborative development practices have been seen as more strategic to their organization over the past three years. Nearly half of business managers surveyed said they prioritize collaborative development because it allows them to innovate and/or help transform their industry.

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Investments in collaborative software development are on the rise.  Among business managers and executives, 44 percent said they would increase their investments in collaborative software development in the next six months; 42 percent said they would sustain their current investment, and no one reported they would decrease their investment.

Sixty-three percent of software developers surveyed said they spend more time now on collaborative software development, compared with five years ago. And 59 percent reported increased participation in collaborative software development in just the last year. Individual developers and businesses both benefit from the trend toward collaboration. Eighty-three percent of software developers said they benefited personally from collaborative development through exposure to new tools and development practices. More than 77 percent of business managers said collaborative development practices have benefited their organizations through a shorter product development cycle/faster time to market.

"Linux is the largest collaborative development project in the history of computing and has paved the way for other collaborative efforts to accelerate technology advancements and dramatically reduce research and development costs," concluded Zemlin. "These collaborative development practices are dramatically disrupting the way technologies are built and distributed, and the new Collaborative Development Trends Report helps inform how and what we can expect in the coming months."

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