Confidence in open source software is growing, but there has been no growth in overall usage, according to new research.
Although 46 per cent of IT directors surveyed at 60 large financial services, retail and public sector organisations indicated greater confidence in the use of open source, this is not reflected by increased uptake.
The survey, conducted by Trend Consulting, found that 36 per cent of companies are using open source products, one per cent down on last year's figures.
These companies are largely being made up of central and local government organisations.
But the research, commissioned by open source lobby group OpenForum Europe, shows that open source is branching out from being used for infrastructure purposes such as web serving and firewalls, and is being evaluated for business critical applications such as email, messaging and the desktop.
Mauro Mortali, senior consultant at Trend Consulting, said: "Over the past year, Linux is perceived to have greater maturity.
"The change is not a quantum leap, but reveals that momentum for Linux is building.
"Investment has been in quick projects because of the economic situation, but I believe that over the next year there will be a pick-up in more strategic projects."
Growing confidence in open source appears to be driven by the need to reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) and to avoid lock-in to proprietary technology.
Some 16 per cent of directors are evaluating open source as a strategy to reduce TCO, more than double last year's figure of seven per cent, and to offer more efficient internal processes such as support provision.
As a way of reducing licensing costs, 21 per cent of directors favour looking at open source, followed by the second most favourable option of trying to negotiate a better deal.
Graham Taylor, programme director at OpenForum Europe, said: "Over the last year there has been a bigger jump in confidence and companies are now looking at detailed implementation planning and how open source will integrate with existing proprietary systems.
"But there are still concerns such as support, cost of integration and retraining."
Confidence may be even higher among small businesses. According to the survey, which also questioned small business advisers, three-quarters are looking to adopt open source instead of using products from rivals such as Microsoft.
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