Open source hiatus in 2009

It’s that time of year again, and Lustratus has just produced its annual predictions for the software infrastructure marketplace.

The Lustratus Insight containing the 2009 predictions is available free of charge here.

As might be expected, the predictions this year are heavily influenced by the current economic downturn and projections that it will continue throughout the year. It may be surprising, therefore, that one of our predictions is that there will be a hiatus in the open source (OSS) marketplace. At first glance, this seems counter-intuitive. After all, if companies are desperate to cut costs, then surely open source products that have no license fees must be an attractive option? Wont this drive OSS demand in 2009?

The Lustratus reading is slightly different. While it may be true that on the face of it having free software would be great in today’s constrained environment, the problems stem from the nature of OSS combined with the likely mandates under which companies are operating at the moment – that is the need to reduce staffing wherever possible.

Most open source software is by its very nature collaborative, and this tends to lead to software that is made available in kit form – that is, although the open source software may offer a framework or the basis for the desired functionality, it is expected that the user will put effort into customizing and extending the functionality for his or her own needs. Typically, therefore, embarking on an open source initiative involves a heavy investment of IT resources, at least at the beginning. Now while this will result in lower license costs, the problem is that in today’s climate companies are shying away from anything that requires anything more than minimal resource investment. Users are looking for products that work out of the box, or more likely are trying to generate more value from what is already in place.

As a result, Lustratus believes that although interest will remain in OSS, new OSS projects will be put on hold until economic conditions relax.