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Independent Research Firm’s Commissioned Study for Unisys Shows Growing Acceptance of Open Source in Business-Critical Applications


Executives see added value to the business as important as cost savings, but perceive major need for services to optimize payback from open source solutions

Blue Bell, Pa.,– Respondents in a study of European and North American companies that had evaluated or are using open source software see enough business benefit from open source to use it for applications critical to their business in key areas such as driving revenue and enhancing customer service. The international commissioned study was conducted for Unisys Corporation (NYSE: UIS) by Forrester Consulting, a leading provider of technology and market research.

The majority of respondents to the study – based on interviews with nearly 500 IT decision makers, including senior executives – also are using open source for mission-critical applications, but showed concern about the availability of services to unlock the full value of open source solutions.

The respondents viewed open source software as capable of delivering significant business payback, especially by lowering their companies’ overall operating costs – a benefit cited by 62 percent.

However, factors other than potential for reduced costs – such as increased business flexibility – are clearly driving enterprise acceptance of open source for use in both IT infrastructure and mission-critical applications. While 62 percent of respondents stated that being able to use the software without paying a license fee made open source attractive, nearly 80 percent cited as more important such factors as support for open standards, use of code without restrictions and avoidance of lock-in to a single vendor.

Respondents See Open Source Valuable for Current and Future Needs
More than half of the respondents – 58 percent in North America and 51 percent in the UK and Continental Europe – stated that they now use open source software for mission-critical applications. More than 79 percent report using open source in the application infrastructure – databases, Web servers and application servers – which provides the underpinning for both routine and mission-critical applications. That widespread infrastructural use indicates strong potential for expansion of the number of mission-critical applications as open source proves its value to those enterprises.

“The research clearly shows that enterprise decision makers are giving at least equal weight to value as well as cost savings in adopting open source software for a range of application requirements,” said Anthony Gold, vice president and general manager, Open Source Business, Unisys. “Executives increasingly recognize that open source solutions can help them save money and, more importantly, also help their companies realize major economic and operational benefits – improved efficiency of IT supporting the business, greater innovation, improved time to market and enhanced competitive advantage.”

In fact, 77 percent of the study respondents called open source important or very important for improving IT efficiency and delivering more with less.

Open Source Can Help Drive SOA
A large majority of the respondents also saw open source software as a major vehicle for key IT initiatives such as modernizing their enterprise application environments. Seventy-one percent viewed it as important or very important for consolidating IT infrastructure.

In addition, 57 percent of the respondents characterized open source as important or very important for facilitating the migration to a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). SOA can permit those enterprises both to deploy new generations of applications more efficiently and integrate new services with those provided by legacy applications, helping to preserve the value of their long-term investment in IT. According to Forrester, open source software’s support for open standards – noted as a key attribute by 78 percent of the respondents – was a major factor driving their view of its value for SOA next-generation enterprise architectures.

Services Seen as Major Gap in Open Source
Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of the respondents to the survey expressed concern about the availability of consulting, integration, support and other services for open source software. Unisys believes that that range of services is most likely to be available from a larger service provider with greater proficiency in delivering enterprise solutions, rather than from smaller providers lacking the capabilities and credentials to provide extensive services.

More than two thirds of the respondents expected the following services from their open source service provider:

Open source software maintenance (83 percent);
Life cycle support (80 percent);
Consulting services (77 percent);
Integration of multiple open source software components (76 percent);
Integration of open source and proprietary (or “closed source”) software (74 percent); and
Open source application development (72 percent).

“The Forrester Consulting study demonstrates that the psychological barriers to enterprise adoption of open source software are falling,” said Gold. “As a pioneer in the open source movement, Unisys is committed to delivering the consulting and integration services that close the confidence gap and give enterprise decision makers the impetus to make open source solutions a key part of the IT architecture supporting their strategic business objectives.”

Integrated Open Source Stacks and Comprehensive Services Drive the Unisys Difference
Unisys provides consulting, deployment and management services based on the company’s Unisys 3D Visible Enterprise (3D-VE) modeling approach. The Forrester Consulting survey respondents identified those kinds of services important for open source solutions.

Unisys offers the Unisys Open and Secure Integrated Solutions (OASIS), a fully integrated services offering around a predefined stack of open source components. Supporting Unisys OASIS are expert consultants from the Unisys 3D-VE High Performance Center (HPC), who optimize and manage open source solutions for clients. Those consultants are key members of Unisys global Open Source Centers of Excellence, which enable customers to benchmark and test business-critical applications in a lab environment before moving them into production.


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