Open-source software has clearly entered the mainstream as it is being strongly adopted within the enterprise, a point underscored by the fact that many CIOs are now implementing it as policy within their organizations.
This is according to Raymond Zachary, a senior analyst and open-source practice head at The 451 Group.
In a media conference call Aug. 8 ahead of the annual LinuxWorld conference and exposition in San Francisco next week, Zachary said attitudes have changed toward open source, "and we are seeing not only a bottoms-up adoption, but also a top-down initiative."
"We are now also seeing CIOs starting to look at implementing open source as a policy within an organization and not as an after-the-fact reaction to its in-house development use," he said.
A number of large IT vendors have embraced open source, which is helping spur momentum, he said, while "mixed source" is becoming the norm, where proprietary technology is run on top of open-source infrastructure software.
With regard to motivation for the adoption of open-source technologies, Zachary said surveys have shown that lower cost, avoiding vendor lock-in and better security are the leading reasons.
"Cost benefits continue to be a primary motivation for the use of open source, and this will help drive demand and mean we as analysts will increasingly have to monitor the business models around this and their appropriateness," he said.
Also, analysts will be watching to see whether there is a backlash from enterprises and other customers if the cost savings they expected are not delivered, he said.
Research has shown that while support from the vendor is important, enterprise customers are willing to get support from multiple sources if that is where the best solution is delivered, Zachary said.
For his part, Al Gillen, vice president of system software at IDC, in Framingham, Mass., said he expects to hear a lot about virtualization software at LinuxWorld.
"This is a hot topic and is on the minds of customers who want to know how this affects them and their products," he said.
The players in this market are developing the right levels of interoperability for the different hypervisors in the market, which would allow interoperability across different virtualization layers, he said.
The impact of virtualization and how customers can use this is top-of-mind and a topic that will get much attention at the show, he said, adding that the issue of how virtualization affects licensing has not yet been addressed in any significant way by the industry.
Novell has said it will not charge extra to cover the number of Linux instances that get run on a virtualized server, while Microsoft has announced that the license for its Datacenter Edition of Windows Server "Longhorn," when it ships next year, will give users the right to run an unlimited number of virtual instances on one physical server, "but that comes at a price," Gillen said.
Another issue that Gillen said he expects to be addressed at LinuxWorld is how the hypervisor layer is going to affect the infrastructure and application layers.
But the biggest unanswered question is how these multiple operating systems will be managed in a virtualized environment, as well as whether these tools will be integrated into the operating system or offered by third-party vendors.