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Pandemic Drives Open Source Adoption

October 12, 2020

Use of open source software is expected to increase during the pandemic as businesses look to save time and money, while increasing efficiency.

More than 600 technologists shared how they use open source software today, what holds them back, and what tools and strategies would help them use it even more effectively.

“As the long-term move towards open source continues, our data shows that the recent economic downturn may be an accelerant,” said Tidelift CEO Donald Fischer. “This finding continues a trend that began after the recession of the early 2000s and continued after the financial crisis of 2008. Organizations turn to open source in tough economic times because it helps them reduce costs and improves their ability to innovate.”

Key findings

Organizations are turning to open source during the COVID-19 recession to do more with less.

Forty-two percent of organizations report their application development budgets were cut, and 44% of organizations state they are likely to use more open source.

More than two-thirds say saving time and money is the top reason to use more open source for application development during the downturn (68%), while increasing efficiency of application development and maintenance was cited by almost half of respondents (48%).

Yet using open source presents new challenges, which differ depending on company size.

Large companies are often burdened by cumbersome open source approval processes, while also struggling to make good decisions about what components to use and how to identify and resolve security vulnerabilities.

Confidence in an organization's open source practices declines as company size grows. Only a small fraction (18%) of organizations are extremely confident that their open source components are secure, up-to-date, and well maintained.

Formal processes around open source management are on the rise, but it is still a free for all—only 17% of organizations have a formal process for managing open source.

Organizations take different approaches to contributing to open source.

More than four-fifths (83%) of respondents say their organization contributes to open source using at least one of six common methods.

Almost half (49%) of organizations have policies governing employee contributions to open source.
The most popular way that organizations contribute to open source is through allocating employee time for contributions.

The study also found the top three programming languages organizations rely on most are JavaScript, Python, and Java. JavaScript is used by over three-fourths of organizations (78%) while Python is used by just over half (52%). Java is used in applications far more often at larger organizations (66% vs. only 32% for the full sample).

As organizations continue to accelerate their use of open source and grapple with how to best choose, upgrade, and maintain this influx of new open source components, Tidelift simplifies the process. The Tidelift Subscription makes it easier for organizations to create and manage catalogs of known-good properly maintained open source components, while paying the maintainers who created them to keep them enterprise ready.

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