The open source software phenomenon has spread far beyond Linux and is gaining "enormous momentum", according to a report from IDC.
A new study from the analyst firm claimed that developers worldwide are rapidly increasing their use of open source software.
Analysis of surveys from over 5,000 developers in 116 countries found that open source software represents the "most significant all-encompassing and long-term trend that the software industry has seen since the early 1980s".
IDC believes that open source will eventually play a role in the life-cycle of every major software category, and will fundamentally change the value proposition of packaged software for customers.
"The use of open source beyond Linux is pervasive, involving almost three-quarters of organisations and spanning hundreds of thousands of projects, " said Dr Anthony Picardi, senior vice president of global software research at IDC.
"Although open source will significantly reduce the industry opportunity over the next 10 years, the real impact is to sustain innovations in mature software markets thus extending the useful life of software assets and saving customers money."
The study noted that, of the 5,000 survey respondents, open source software is being used by 71 per cent of the world's developers and is in production at 54 per cent of their organisations.
IDC contends that, despite the proliferation of open source licences, only three business models are important from an industry and an individual vendor success point of view: the software revenue model, the public collective model, and the service broker model.
Competitive success among vendors' open source markets will be determined by a different set of core competencies than those required to invent and market a new product, the analyst firm believes.
"As business requirements shift from acquiring new customers to sustaining existing ones, the competitive landscape will move towards costs savings and serving up sustaining innovations to savvy customers," said Picardi.
"It will also provide mainstream software to new market segments that are willing to pay only a fraction of conventional software licence fees. Open source software is ultimately a resource for sustaining innovators."
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