Organizations Are Accepting Open Source, But Are They Giving Back?

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 15, 2011

Recently, we covered some of the extensive results from the Eclipse Community Survey and Open Source Developer Report, which contains lots of data about open source trends. In this year's survey, as has been seen in similar surveys recently, mobile applications and cloud computing are clearly on users' and developers' minds. Another set of results from this year's survey is generating discussion online, though, and raising questions about whether the many new organizations and businesses adopting open source software are also giving back to the projects they benefit from. In many cases, it appears that they are not giving back.

As noted, and shown in graphics here

 "The percentage of organizations that disallows open source is small. The data also indicates, however, that the largest single category is organizations that consume open source, but do not contribute back in any fashion." 

The same post goes on to note that the results from the Eclipse survey show some positive trends in terms of open source contributions from organizations that also use open source, but the giving back issue is a significant one. In recent years, many open source projects that spent years in development have reached a level of maturity that they offer attractive benefits to businesses and organizations that deploy them. There are also now many commercial open source companies building their business models around open source projects such as Hadoop, Drupal, and more.

We've noted many times on OStatic that lots of important open source platforms, applications and components depend on contributions from well-funded commercial technology companies. For example, each year companies such as Red Hat, IBM, Intel and others make the largest contributions to the development of the Linux kernel. 

If usage of open source software is becoming more accepted in the business community, but contributions from such businesses are absent in many cases, that is a bad trend. The trend may call for a unified effort from the open source community to call for development contributions from the increasing number of organizations benefiting from open source projects.