Open source software (OSS) is crucial for the German industry - with many sustainable business models and high efficiency for providers and users. But there is still uncertainty, ignorance and difficulty in purchasing or procurement. The easiest way to learn is by example of others - and that is why the SerNet GmbH has launched a survey that examines the spread of open source software in DAX companies. DAX (Deutscher Aktienindex) is the German blue chip stock market index consisting of the 30 major German companies trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The result: All companies represented here are using open-source software. "We have expected this. But the proof is exciting," says Dr. Johannes Loxen, CEO of SerNet.
Loxen explains how SerNet arrived at the conclusion: "We had three ways to find out whether OSS is used. First, many of the DAX companies are our customers and we know that they use OSS." Secondly, some of the companies are advocates for open source. They provide their own software under an OSS license, are members of initiatives or initiate contests and awards. Loxen: "In the third case we had a close look at the visible OSS use."
The Dax 30: OSS promoters and users
Chen-Yu Lin, PhD (SerNet) conducted the investigation systematically. She divided the companies into three resulting groups: "Active promoters, active users and silent users." SAP, for example, has already contributed many million lines of code to the Eclipse platform and supports numerous Apache projects. "But sponsoring is not expressed solely in code or money," says Lin. The Deutsche Telekom AG e.g. created an publicly accessible Open Source License Compendium (OSLiC) published under Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 3.0). "The compendium is a useful in-house tool for knowledge sharing, and shines a light on what to consider in various usage scenarios with different open source licenses," says Lin. "The compendiums availability and license will help others using OSS and thus the spread of open source software." Even German automotive industries are investing in OSS according to Lin: BMW runs several OSS projects and is among the active supporters; Daimler announces on its website to have OSS in use and published a 'License Declaration'.
Loxen adds:"When it comes to enterprises open source always plays a more decisive role – without being visible at first sight or boards even being conscious about it. Open source software is a motor for increased efficiency. Nobody gets along without it." License fees are a still valid, but an old argument. "Anybody inquiring safety, continuous improvement and open sources without backdoors as criteria, automatically comes to the conclusion that open source software is the answer."
Consistent, innovative thinking required
Given this central role Loxen calls for more consistency in politics and business: "Open source software has long since been transformed into an economic factor in Germany and Europe. It is time to represent this in procurement and purchasing as well." Existing barriers should be eliminated. "Equal opportunities - that would be a start!"
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