Study: During Hard Times, FOSS Has Tremendously Helped Small Businesses

by Ostatic Staff - Aug. 03, 2012

At the recent OSCON conference, the folks at O'Reilly released the results of a study, done in conjunction with the ISP Bluehost, called "Economic Impact of Open Source on Small Business: A Case Study." It includes an extraordinary amount of data based input from over two million Bluehost customers and 4,000 survey respondents. The study makes the case that open source has had a profound impact on small businesses during these tough economic times.

Consider a few of the findings from the report:

  • 60% of web hosting usage is by SMBs, 71% if you include non-profits. Only 22% of hosted sites are for personal use.
  • WordPress is a far more important open source product than most people give it credit for. In the SMB hosting market, it is as widely used as MySQL and PHP, far ahead of Joomla and Drupal, the other leading content management systems.
  • Languages commonly used by high-tech startups, such as Ruby and Python, have little usage in the SMB hosting market, which is dominated by PHP for server-side scripting and JavaScript for client-side scripting.
  • Open source hosting alternatives have at least a 2:1 cost advantage relative to proprietary solutions.

 Ask some people how open source has impacted small businesses and they'll speculate that perhaps a few free applications are in use at SMBs, but the O'Reilly report makes clear that from web hosting to application development, open source has helped them. SMBs are even recognizing that funding open source, and combining paid developers with volunteer developers results in cost savings and efficiencies.

 Here's an excerpt from O'Reilly's Mike Hendrickson summary of the report:

"Given that SMBs are widely thought to generate as much as 50% of GDP, the productivity gains to the economy as a whole that can be attributed to open source software are significant. The most important open source programs contributing to this expansion of opportunity for small businesses include Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, JavaScript, and WordPress. The developers of these open source projects and the communities that support them are truly unsung heroes of the economy."

Indeed, these are points that we began making all the way back in 2008