The adoption of open source in enterprises has grown significantly over the past decades. At Capgemini open source software has become the fifth largest technology platform with which our people deliver services to clients. This makes open source comparable to brands like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP.

To see how fast this adoption has taken place, let’s quickly go back to the days when open source really took off.

When the Internet was invented, the people that were on-line needed tools to communicate over this new medium. Groups of programmers found each other and started creating new tools that would help them run systems and exchange information in better and safer ways. And of course, in order to be able to co-create this software, they needed a mechanism. Enter open source. With a twist on traditional copyright law, these programmers handed over their rights as an author to anyone who wished to receive them. This strongly benefited the software itself, because others were allowed to work on the same source code, improving it and adding new features.

In the years that followed, the model of sharing source code has been much criticized, mostly by individuals that had made a living of not sharing, or by organizations that based their business model on trade secrets. But for more and more people it made sense to share. Distributing individual rights to others had awakened an immense collective power that proved to be unstoppable.

Fast forward to the present. Over the past two decades, the Internet has proven to be the ideal medium to facilitate on-line communities. Where it all began with communities of programmers, it turned out that things other than source code can be shared too. Texts, photos, videos, art designs or even ideas to counter the greenhouse effect, today nearly everyone is part of one or more on-line communities that thrive on sharing. The Internet has integrated into people’s lives. Our children are growing up in a world where off-line is not a concept anymore. “But I don’t understand, why doesn’t grandma have an Internet connection?” We expect connectivity in order to share and exchange.

In much the same way as in which social networks have become part of our everyday lives, open source software has become integral part of enterprise computing. In many situations it makes sense for organizations to share software and use the shared software of others. In a recent survey by Gartner, 79.5% of enterprises answered they are using open source in their day-to-day operations, with an additional 20.3% doing experiments currently to evaluate the value. Read again: 99.8% of enterprises is doing open source. With such numbers you could argue that it has a bigger market share than some of the renowned brands of enterprise software. And maybe even a bigger future.

So if you are working for a large organization, and you think there is no open source in your environment, ask yourself the question if you are part of the 0.2% that really isn’t using it, or maybe you are not a well informed as you think.