OpenUK's latest report paints a rosy picture of open source adoption

Might be nice if a few more of those adopters turned to contributors, though

OpenUK has released the second of its three-part probe into the state of open source in Britain, finding that an overwhelming majority of businesses use the wares – but noticeably fewer are willing to contribute code back.

"The first of its kind, this report makes visible the current business adoption of open source software in the UK and provides a baseline of what will be an annual review – to capture the growth, shifts and changes of open source software use in the UK in the coming years," claimed Jennifer Barth, PhD, founder of consultancy firm Smoothmedia and the leader of the research which led to the report.

In the report, State of Open: The UK in 2021, the research organisation said that terms of numbers, "Open source software has long been the seed of growth in the UK economy" and is being used by businesses of all sizes in all sectors.

"Open source software is no longer a niche term for business and government," Andrew Waffa, Arm distinguished engineer and senior director of its software communities division, added in the report's foreword. "When it comes to software standards, open source is the way to get it done.

"Looking at the software industry, many of the biggest businesses are heavily reliant on open source; whether it be cloud vendors, software vendors, healthcare, the financial industry, telecommunications or... the list goes on. Open source software is the foundation for established vendors even when their products are proprietary. It is the toolbox enabling entrepreneurs and startups."

Open source takeover nearly complete

Figures shared in the report, which surveyed 273 randomly sampled UK companies of varying sizes and across numerous sectors, would appear to back that up. OpenUK has reported that an impressive 97 per cent of businesses surveyed use some form of open source software, with 48 per cent having increased their use in 2020 compared to the year before.

The most commonly used types of open source software, the report found, were programming languages at 86 per cent, miscellaneous software tools at 84 per cent, public code repositories at 83 per cent, operating systems at 80 per cent, and databases at 78 per cent. Least popular by quite some distance, in a finding as interesting as it is concerning, were open-source security and observability tools.

That could highlight a problem. "Placing cost before the quality of the code and its security is a sure sign as to why we get so many security clangers down the line," ESET UK cybersecurity specialist Jake Moore told The Register. "Although the infosec crowd keeps banging the security drum there is good reason for why we do. The security of the software should be at the heart of its design but until decision makers realise that it's not always about money we will continue to walk hopelessly into inevitable threats."

The report found a split between business sectors, particularly when it came to use of open-source operating systems such as Linux and the BSDs: While 90 per cent of technology, media, and telecommunications companies and 93 per cent of banking, insurance, and financial service sector companies reported using open-source operating systems, just 63 per cent of companies in the public sector, health, and pharmaceutical markets reported the same.

A look at cloud infrastructure use, meanwhile, showed a clear triopoly with Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft's Azure arm gobbling up the majority usage share - AWS being a particularly popular choice, with 68 per cent of respondents using the platform.

From the few to the many

Companies may be willing to take from the world of open source, but they seem less eager to give. The report found that while 97 per cent of respondents used open source software, only 65 per cent contributed back in any way - with the technology, media, and telecommunications businesses responsible for the majority of those contributions. A minority, at 49 per cent, reported developing open-source software, and slightly less at 48 per cent said they had open-sourced their own software - with small companies outdoing larger firms in that regard.

The main reason for picking open-source software, meanwhile, is less to do with the freedom involved and more to do with the companies' bottom lines: 75 per cent reported cost saving as the primary driver for open-source adoption, with collaboration and skill development trailing behind.

"Open source is embedded very deeply but very stealthily in the fabric of UK business," opined Nigel Abbott, region director for NEMEA at report sponsor GitHub and an ambassador for OpenUK, of the report's findings. "If the average C-suiter knew their reliance upon open source, then I think its importance, investment in it, and particularly a company's commitment to participating in projects would be much more prevalent in the UK."

The report also offered tips for those looking for jobs. Respondents reported back-end developers as the most in-demand role, with 38 per cent having hired for that position over the last year and 23 per cent planning to hire over the next 6-12 months. Other popular roles included development leads, full-stack developers, and development operations (devops) engineers, with demand for senior roles like architects dropping - an impact, the report concluded, of the pandemic.

Interestingly, the report found that despite the economic shock felt by the country from the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing Brexit debacle, and the general financial downturn, things look rosy for open source. Most respondents reported no impact on their use of open source as a result, with some going so far as to predicting the financial downturn will actively boost its adoption.

The full report, and the earlier Phase One report which named the UK as Europe's number-one contributor to open source and estimated a £43.1bn contribution to the nation's gross domestic product directly attributable to open source, is available on OpenUK now. ®

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • Developers offered browser-based fun in and Java action in Visual Studio Code

    Looking at code here, there and (almost) everywhere

    Microsoft has whipped the covers off yet another take on code-in-the-browser with a lightweight version of Visual Studio Code, while unveiling the version 1.0 release of support for Red Hat Java in the freebie source wrangler.

    It comes after last month's preview of the code editor that runs entirely in the browser, and will doubtless have some users pondering the difference between this and Microsoft-owned GitHub's, which also pops a development environment into the browser. One of the biggest of those differences is a lack of compulsory integration with the VS source-shack; this is unavoidable with (the clue is, after all, in the URL.), on the other hand, will permit the opening up of a file from a local device (if the browser allows it and supports the File System Access API) in what looks for all the world like an instance of Visual Studio Code, except surrounded by the gubbins of a browser.

    Continue reading
  • No swearing or off-brand comments: AWS touts auto-moderation messaging API

    Automate everything – but while human moderation is hard, robot moderation tends not to work

    AWS has introduced channel flows to its Chime messaging and videoconferencing API, the idea being to enable automatic moderation of profanity or content that "does not fit" the corporate brand.

    Although Amazon Chime has a relatively small market share in the crowded videoconferencing market, the Chime SDK is convenient for developers building applications that include videoconferencing or messaging, competing with SDKs and services from the likes of Twilio or Microsoft's Azure Communication Services. In other words, this is aimed mainly at corporate developers building applications or websites that include real-time messaging, audio or videoconferencing.

    The new feature is for real-time text chat rather than video and is called messaging channel flows. It enables developers to create code that intercepts and processes messaging before they are delivered. The assumption is that this processing code will run on AWS Lambda, its serverless platform.

    Continue reading
  • UK government puts £5bn on the table in trawl for public sector networks services

    I dream of wires, say Whitehall’s big buyers

    The UK's central government procurement agency is chumming the waters around the market's swimmers, hoping to tempt suppliers into providing a range of computer network services and kit with a £5bn tender.

    The buying spree, which will officially begin when a framework agreement starts in fiscal 2023, involves a large spread of hardware, software and services around IT networks. Included are categories such as networking, internet and intranet software packages, network interfaces, network operating system software development services and so on.

    Crown Commercial Service, the cross-government buying organisation that sits within the Cabinet Office, has launched what is known as a "prior information notice" to start talking to suppliers before it forms the official competition to be on the framework: a group of contracted suppliers from which a huge number of public sector bodies can buy.

    Continue reading
  • Informatica UKI veep was rightfully sacked over Highways England $5k golf jolly, says tribunal

    Underling took customer on bucket list trip - and VP signed it off without checking

    Informatica's former UK & Ireland vice president was correctly sacked after letting a salesman take Highways England's executive IT director on a $5,000 golfing jaunt, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled.

    Not only did Derek Thompson breach Informatica's anti-corruption policies but he also warned underlings to "be discreet" about the jolly – and told HR investigators "Why does anyone do any customer entertainment?" when asked how playing golf benefited the business.

    Thompson lost his appeal against a judge's earlier ruling [PDF] that his October 2017 sacking was reasonable, with the Employment Appeal Tribunal publishing its judgment [PDF] last week.

    Continue reading
  • Boeing's Starliner capsule corroded due to high humidity levels, NASA explains, and the spaceship won't fly this year

    Meanwhile Elon's running orbital tourist trips and ISS crew missions

    Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule, designed to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, will not fly until the first half of next year at the earliest, as the manufacturing giant continues to tackle an issue with the spacecraft’s valves.

    Things have not gone smoothly for Boeing. Its Starliner program has suffered numerous setbacks and delays. Just in August, a second unmanned test flight was scrapped after 13 of 24 valves in the spacecraft’s propulsion system jammed. In a briefing this week, Michelle Parker, chief engineer of space and launch at Boeing, shed more light on the errant components.

    Boeing believes the valves malfunctioned due to weather issues, we were told. Florida, home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where the Starliner is being assembled and tested, is known for hot, humid summers. Parker explained that the chemicals from the spacecraft’s oxidizer reacted with water condensation inside the valves to form nitric acid. The acidity corroded the valves, causing them to stick.

    Continue reading
  • Research finds consumer-grade IoT devices showing up... on corporate networks

    Considering the slack security of such kit, it's a perfect storm

    Increasing numbers of "non-business" Internet of Things devices are showing up inside corporate networks, Palo Alto Networks has warned, saying that smart lightbulbs and internet-connected pet feeders may not feature in organisations' threat models.

    According to Greg Day, VP and CSO EMEA of the US-based enterprise networking firm: "When you consider that the security controls in consumer IoT devices are minimal, so as not to increase the price, the lack of visibility coupled with increased remote working could lead to serious cybersecurity incidents."

    The company surveyed 1,900 IT decision-makers across 18 countries including the UK, US, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia, finding that just over three quarters (78 per cent) of them reported an increase in non-business IoT devices connected to their org's networks.

    Continue reading
  • Huawei appears to have quenched its thirst for power in favour of more efficient 5G

    Never mind the performance, man, think of the planet

    MBB Forum 2021 The "G" in 5G stands for Green, if the hours of keynotes at the Mobile Broadband Forum in Dubai are to be believed.

    Run by Huawei, the forum was a mixture of in-person event and talking heads over occasionally grainy video and kicked off with an admission by Ken Hu, rotating chairman of the Shenzhen-based electronics giant, that the adoption of 5G – with its promise of faster speeds, higher bandwidth and lower latency – was still quite low for some applications.

    Despite the dream five years ago, that the tech would link up everything, "we have not connected all things," Hu said.

    Continue reading
  • What is self-learning AI and how does it tackle ransomware?

    Darktrace: Why you need defence that operates at machine speed

    Sponsored There used to be two certainties in life - death and taxes - but thanks to online crooks around the world, there's a third: ransomware. This attack mechanism continues to gain traction because of its phenomenal success. Despite admonishments from governments, victims continue to pay up using low-friction cryptocurrency channels, emboldening criminal groups even further.

    Darktrace, the AI-powered security company that went public this spring, aims to stop the spread of ransomware by preventing its customers from becoming victims at all. To do that, they need a defence mechanism that operates at machine speed, explains its director of threat hunting Max Heinemeyer.

    According to Darktrace's 2021 Ransomware Threat Report [PDF], ransomware attacks are on the rise. It warns that businesses will experience these attacks every 11 seconds in 2021, up from 40 seconds in 2016.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021