Census Says: Governments are Biggest Users of Open Source Software

Objective data, benchmarks and other numeric tangibles have been difficult to come by when discussing the update of open source software in Government.  Much analysis remains the domain of corporate-sponsored reports, so its always interesting to see published indicators.  I talk to agencies – in the US and abroad – every day that use open source software so anecdotal evidence abounds.  But numbers, of course, are better.

Although a press release certainly isn’t a peer-reviewed paper, it does reflect and validate what us government folks have known for some time; government agencies have been earlier-than-usual adopter of open source and are using it extensively.  This according to the Open Source Census project.  Their initial data points suggest that government agencies are amongst the largest users of open source software, if not the biggest. From the release:

Initial Data Points From The Open Source Census
…this initial set of data, which is expected to grow over time as more computers are scanned, shows:

  • Government and financial services companies show the highest use of open source per machine scanned. On average, government agencies have 123 different open source packages installed per machine; financial services companies have 117 different packages installed per machine.
  • Europe shows the highest usage of open source, with the United States lagging behind. For example, the U.S. averages 51 open source packages per machine and Europe averages 68 packages per machine.
  • There is a significant amount of open source software used on Windows. Participants scanning Windows machines averaged 39 open source software packages per machine scanned. Linux users found more open source, with 87 packages on average, but that also includes open source that is shipped with the Linux distributions. The most popular packages are similar for both Windows and Linux platforms with 7 of the top 10 packages in common.
  • OpenOffice has been found on 73 percent of personal machines scanned vs. 28 percent of enterprise machines scanned. The Census will be able to track if this personal use drives increased business use over time.

I like this project and encourage signing up to increase participation.

Here’s the press release in full:

Open Source Census Tracks Enterprise Use of Open Source Globally

Initial Census Data Shows Highest Use of Open Source Software in Europe, Within Financial Services and Government Agencies

BROOMFIELD, Colo. September 30, 2008 – The Open Source Census, a global, collaborative project to collect and share quantitative data on the use of open source software, today announced in just six months more than 300,000 open source package/project installations have been discovered.

“We’re excited about the growing pool of data The Open Source Census is collecting,” said Kim Weins, senior vice president of products and marketing at OpenLogic. “By participating, these enterprises, for the first time and at no cost, are able to identify what open source software is already installed on their computers and benchmark themselves against others in their industry. The Open Source Census publishes aggregated information to show emerging trends in open source usage. In fact, early results show interesting patterns that parallel trends in our paid customer base, such as high open source usage within financial services companies. The open source adoption data from the Census helps enterprises to evaluate open source options that can reduce IT costs.”

Initial Data Points From The Open Source Census
The Open Source Census continues to uncover interesting trends on the global use of open source software. Launched just six months ago, this initial set of data, which is expected to grow over time as more computers are scanned, shows:

  • Government and financial services companies show the highest use of open source per machine scanned. On average, government agencies have 123 different open source packages installed per machine; financial services companies have 117 different packages installed per machine.
  • Europe shows the highest usage of open source, with the United States lagging behind. For example, the U.S. averages 51 open source packages per machine and Europe averages 68 packages per machine.
  • There is a significant amount of open source software used on Windows. Participants scanning Windows machines averaged 39 open source software packages per machine scanned. Linux users found more open source, with 87 packages on average, but that also includes open source that is shipped with the Linux distributions. The most popular packages are similar for both Windows and Linux platforms with 7 of the top 10 packages in common.
  • OpenOffice has been found on 73 percent of personal machines scanned vs. 28 percent of enterprise machines scanned. The Census will be able to track if this personal use drives increased business use over time.

For more information about The Open Source Census, please visit osscensus.org.

About The Open Source Census
The Open Source Census is a global, collaborative project to collect and share quantitative data on the use of open source software in enterprise. Founded by OpenLogic, the Open Source Census has a number of sponsors including OpenLogic and IDC. The Open Source Census initiative has open source tools designed to scan individual enterprise computers for all installed open source software. The results of these scans can then be contributed anonymously to the Open Source Census, where the aggregate data is published.

Founding members include: IDC; CollabNet; Holme, Roberts & Owen LLP; Navica; Olliance Group; Open Solutions Alliance; Open Source Business Foundation; and Unisys. Microsoft and Oregon State University Open Source Lab are additional sponsors. “Friends of The Open Source Census” include ActiveState, EnterpriseDB and OSAlt.com. Finally, the Open Source Census also solicits advice from community leaders, including Jim Jagielski, Chairman of the Apache Foundation and Tony Wasserman, Director, Software Management Program at Carnegie Mellon West.

About OpenLogic
OpenLogic is a leading provider of open source solutions that enable enterprises to safely acquire, support, and control open source software. OpenLogic provides enterprises with a certified library of open source software that encompasses hundreds of the most popular open source packages via OpenLogic Exchange (OLEX), a free web site where companies can find, research, and download certified, enterprise-ready open source packages on demand. With the broadest open source coverage in the industry, OpenLogic offers indemnification; updates; and enterprise-grade technical support backed by the OpenLogic Expert Community. OpenLogic also provides solutions for open source governance and to automate the integration and deployment of open source components — reducing the risk and maximizing the cost savings associated with using open source software. For more on OpenLogic, go to http://www.openlogic.com.

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