With over 300 specialist companies, France is currently the European open source leader. The market has enjoyed uninterrupted growth since it emerged 10 years ago, and is permeating more and more areas of IT. Now a central component of companies’ digital transformation, open source isn’t just a flash in the pan. So what are the future challenges in this field? During the Open Source Summit, which took place in Paris on 6 & 7 December 2017, we spoke to Véronique Torner, co-founder and co-chair of Alter Way, an Econocom satellite and one of France’s leading open source players with elven years of expertise under its belt.
What is the role of open source today?
In just a decade, open source software has firmly established itself in the IT landscape. Ten years ago, open source was considered quite exotic: we were sort of the “alter-globalists of the IT world”, whereas now, open source is central to digital transformation. All the technological innovations that boost digital transformation in companies, such as the cloud, are now driven by open source. It’s the reactor core of digital transformation!
We’re also now seeing the last bastions of resistance in the private sector – such as banking – starting to crumble. Just a few years ago, companies like Société Générale were very much against open source, whereas now they’ve embraced it: they’re deploying an open banking strategy, hiring lots of open source talents, and are sponsors of the Open Source Summit!
That said, open source hasn’t conquered every field of IT: whilst it’s dominating infrastructure and SMACS (Social, Mobility, Analytics, Cloud & Security) and is making good headway in databases, it hasn’t yet made an impact in desktops or applications such as ERP. But that could change: who knows, maybe open source ERP solutions will be the norm in a few years!
15% growth, 1,000 jobs created in the industry last year. Do you think growth will continue at this rate or is it just a passing fad?
It’s not a fad: open source is here to stay, and is part of a rationale of standards and controlling the IT system: interoperability, transparency and collaboration are the main strengths of open source solutions, which is ideally suited to companies’ IT challenges. Where issues of digital ethics are concerned, with artificial intelligence, algorithms, blockchain and IoT, the advantages of open source, i.e. the fact that the code can be changed, can help restore users’ trust.
In 2017, a number of companies adopted an “open source first” strategy, with an increasing focus on co-building approaches.
A real change in mindset is underway: companies are switching from being users to being contributors.
Lastly, the open movement is not restricted to technology and has spurred a number of other movements such as open data, open access, open law, open democracy, etc.
How do you see the future of open source?
We’ve just published a survey in partnership with Syntec numérique and the CNLL (the French National Council of Open Source Software, Ed), which represents all the countries’ companies in the sector, on growth in the open source market. Whilst the IT sector as a whole is set to increase by 3.6% in 2018, open source is predicted to rise at a CAGR of 8% until 2020.
More signifiacnatly, France is the European champion of open source, with a 23% market share: the French open source market is worth €4.5 billion, ahead of the UK (€4.2 billion) and Germany (€4.1 billion). Open source accounts for 9.9% of the IT market in France, compared with 6.5 % in the UK. And that’s not going to change much by 2020.
One last indicator of solid growth: 45% of respondent companies spent more than 15% of their R&D budget on deploying open source solutions. And 4,000 people will be hired in the sector every year until 2020!
Find out more about Alter Way: visit the website (French)