For CIOs, Open Source is more an innovation tool than cost center

Although open source will significantly reduce costs, the biggest impact of will be to sustain innovation, said CIOs in a global survey

For CIOs, Open Source is more an innovation tool than cost center - CIO&Leader

Open source has evolved over the past two decades and has now permeated into the modern enterprise landscape. While the message is loud and clear that a majority of the CIOs and technology experts are already using open source, a new study report conducted by Illuminas and sponsored by Red Hat, wants to go one step ahead to find out in what ways are they innovating with this technology.

In it’s recently released ‘State of Enterprise Open Source’ report, Red Hat gauges the landscape for adoption and usage, based on 950 interviews with IT leaders worldwide. As Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat, stated in the report, "The question is no longer whether your enterprise should adopt open technologies; the question is when—and how." 

Here are some takeaways for the CIOs from the study report.

Open Source is strategically important for CIOs

The CIOs who took the survey believe that Open source is strategically important to their organization’s overall enterprise infrastructure software strategy. A whopping 69% said it was very or extremely important and only one percent said it was not important at all. The study noted that these CIOs have ramped up their use of open source and expect this to continue. Over two-third have increased their use of enterprise open source over the past 12 months and more than half—59%—expect to continue to do so over the next 12 months.

Open source paves way for digital transformation

Enterprise open source today is replacing proprietary software for many different purposes from virtualization to message buses to application servers, unlike a few years ago. CIOs of the study noted that open source software isn’t just about swapping out old infrastructure for modernized replacements. 42% say they’re using it for digital transformation. The central idea can be cost reduction, but the pace at which open source is helping to define and shape new approaches to infrastructure from containerization to software-defined-storage and networking, the report noted the technology is helping CIOs create new opportunities, new services, and new classes of customer value like never before.

A more secured framework

Attributes such as security and the availability of support are reasons enterprises continue to switch to open source software. “Enterprise open source software can be well-supported and more secure and reliable for sure. But the same could be said of software from many proprietary vendors. One of the things that’s unique about open source is the way it enables individuals and organizations to collaborate to achieve common goals,” the study noted.

An engine for innovation for CIOs

Open source software as a development approach is fundamentally different from that used for proprietary software. One of the upshots is that many of the new categories of software are influenced by open source technologies, the study noted. Artificial intelligence, software-defined infrastructure, and cloud-native platforms are a few examples. In other words, much of the innovation in the software world today is happening with open source. The study for instance also clearly shows that Containers that largely run on Linux, has helped drive DevOps in recent years. Over the next 12 months, 67% CIOs and IT leaders stated that they expect their container usage to increase.

Organizations that depend on software to support their businesses (which is to say most of them) want to be able to tap into that innovation.


While open source has always been of interest to CIOs and IT pros, the report clearly noted in 2019, they are reaping a lot more from this revolution. The study observes, enterprise open-source use is increasing. Over the past 12 months, 68% of respondents said that their organization's use of enterprise open-source software increased. Looking forward over the next 12 months, 59% of respondents said they plan to further increase their use of enterprise open-source software.

Today, organizations are buying into software as a change agent rather than just a cost center and into enterprise open source as a central element of the software universe rather than something a bit scary lurking at the periphery, the study concluded.

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