European spend on open source software hits €22bn

26 Feb 2007

The notional value of Europe’s investment in free/libre or open source software today is €22bn, representing 20.5pc of the region’s total software investment, a senior UN researcher will tell an intelligence briefing on open source in Dublin later this week.

Rishab Ghosh, a senior researcher at the UN University in Maastricht, will tell the Open Ireland conference in Dublin that the spend in the US on free/libre or open source software (FLOSS) stands at €36bn and accounts for 20pc of software spend in the US.

Open Ireland is a not-for-profit organisation focused on promoting awareness and understanding of open source software. The organisation is partnered with the OpenForum, whose members include Deloitte, Unisys, IBM, HP, Intel, AMD, Sun and Fujitsu.

Mel McIntyre, managing director of a Dublin-based software firm called OpenApp, told that the use of open source software could generate considerable savings for businesses. His company has already deployed open source-based projects for Irish and UK government bodies.

McIntyre explained that at present the vast majority of software products that are bought and sold in Ireland are infrastructure products but almost all the software that is developed here for export is in the form of line-of-business applications.

He believes that as open source software extends deeper into applications its significance in Ireland will increase.

At present, he explained, open source software has been deployed in infrastructure projects but there will be a considerable increase in open source software applications in the years ahead.

“A lot of companies are involved in open source from a systems integration perspective,” McIntyre explained, “but there’s a big difference between implementing open source for directories and security and actually writing software applications.”

McIntyre estimated that by 2010, 4pc of Europe’s gross domestic product (GDP) will be open source related.

He believes that the argument that the open source movement is a direct affront to organisations like Microsoft is a little tired. “Open source will be a balance against monopolies and monopolisation. People will retain the freedom to create technology the way they want. We are seeing the same struggle in various other industries such as farming and fishing.

“Software creation is an intellectual thing and the open source movement has a real impact on people implementing IT.”

An example of the growing focus on open source software applications is the increasing use of products like Sun’s StarOffice in conventional office settings. OpenApp has actually published training materials for StarOffice for the European Computer Driving License (ECDL) in collaboration with the Blackrock Education Centre.

McIntyre, who worked in Silicon Valley with companies like Amdahl and Rise Technology, said of the growing momentum to build open source applications rather than solely infrastructure products: “It’s the next big thing, but not in a Web 2.0 way. It will be more fundamental than that.

“On one level it’s an alternative, on another it indicates the growing ubiquity of software. It will help to remove the economic barriers to scalability and lead to more opportunties,” McIntyre explained.

The intelligence briefing on open source software will take place this Friday 2 March at the Westbury Hotel, Dublin, between 7.30am and 10.30am.

The event will feature briefings by Rishab Ghosh of the UN University as well as speakers from Forfas, IBM, Gartner and OpenApp.

By John Kennedy