Majority of Companies in Germany Rely on Open-Source Software

The great majority of businesses in Germany no longer function at all without the use of open-source software, whether it is about database programs, writing or graphics apps, online services or the server operating system, according to digital association Bitkom’s latest survey in Germany. Over 71% of businesses in Germany rely on open-source software and quite probably the use of open-source will rise in the years ahead.

The license of open-source software allows the programs to be freely executed, the source code to be analyzed and adapted, and the software to be distributed even in modified variants. A prerequisite for this is that the source code of the software is publicly available.

Only 7% of respondents indicate they are fundamentally skeptical or contemptuous of open source, while 67% define themselves as curious and open-minded, with a further 25% remaining unsure.

Currently, the larger the company, the more likely it is to use open-source solutions. Among companies with 2,000+ employees, 87 percent are the most likely to use open-source. Companies with 20 to 99 employees are the least likely to use open source – but even among them, at 70 percent, it’s a clear majority.

These are the results of a Bitkom-commissioned survey of 1,152 German firms with 20 or more employees.

“Open source can increase the pace of development, especially around new technologies such as artificial intelligence, data analytics and blockchain,” said Achim Berg, President at Bitkom. “Open source is widespread, has become established and allows applications to be customized for the specific purpose in the company. Open source is an important driver of digitization.”

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Photo Achim Berg, President at Bitkom
“Open source can increase the pace of development, especially around new technologies such as artificial intelligence, data analytics and blockchain,” said Achim Berg, President at Bitkom.

Open source software is advantageous to 82% of businesses. The most significant benefit is the ability to save money (24 percent). Source code (14%) and an easier method to change providers (8%) are next. High security through regular upgrades is also important (7 percent). The ease of modification and the vast range of open source components (5 percent each) are also mentioned, as are knowledge sharing in a large and active community (4 percent), as well as greater compatibility (4 percent) and open standards (3 percent).

“There is no one advantage of open source,” added Mr. Berg. “Open source offers a whole range of benefits, and it depends a lot on the deployment context and the company.”

Open-source software, on the other hand, is viewed negatively by nearly nine out of ten businesses (88 percent). Concerns about a shortage of open-source professionals (14 percent), expensive training and familiarization expenses, and a hazy warranty status are among the most prevalent (10 percent each). The absence of commercial backing and, in general, security issues (7 percent each) are also highlighted as drawbacks more frequently.

The open-source community is supported by slightly more than half of the firms (55%) that not only utilize it but also contribute to it in some way. About a third of people (36 percent) acquire support services or specialized business solutions, such as IT management services. One out of every five workers (21 percent) regularly participate in open-source initiatives, with 11 percent initiating or supporting them directly. One out of every eleven firms (9 percent) make better or updated source code available to the public.

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