The 2020 results are in: The managed open source survey. Download now

Finding #1: open source use is rising during the COVID-19 recession

Chris Grams
by Chris Grams
on October 7, 2020

In June of 2020, Tidelift fielded our annual managed open source survey of technologists who use open source to build applications at work. Over 600 people shared how they use open source software today, what holds them back, and what tools and strategies would help them use it even more effectively.

In this post, we share the first of nine key findings. If you don’t wait to wait for the rest of the results, you can download the full survey report right now at the link below. 

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Finding #1: open source use is rising during the COVID-19 recession

We’ve written previously at Tidelift about how organizations tend to encourage the use of open source even more when times get tough, in part because it helps them save money. So in this year’s managed open source survey, we wanted to learn whether the economic ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic were once again putting application development budgets under pressure—and indeed they are.

Forty-two percent of respondents reported their organization’s application development budget was cut because of the current economic downturn, while only 10% said spending had increased.

42% of application development budgets cut in the current economic downturn

The pandemic hit Asia first, so it is unsurprising that 61% of respondents from the region—representing 15% of the study—reported budget cuts caused by the economic downturn.

Economically sensitive industries like consumer, retail, and manufacturing were most likely to cite a negative budget impact. On the flip side, governments, non-profits, and large companies—often slow-moving ships that don’t make dramatic mid-year budget changes—reported a minimal impact to their budgets.

When faced with reduced budgets, open source is viewed more favorably by organizations as a way to reduce costs, as it helps them innovate faster without having to write all of the code themselves or purchase expensive proprietary software tools. In fact, 44% of respondents believe their organization’s leaders are likely to encourage the use of more open source for application development during the downturn, while only 2% expect its use to be discouraged.

44% of organizations likely to use more open source during the downturnEncouragement of open source is even more likely (60%) among organizations cutting budgets due to the economy. Interestingly, use of more open source is also being encouraged at organizations with rising app development spending.

Open source is encouraged most often at organizations facing budget cuts

Finally, 49% of leaders at the largest companies (above 10,000 employees) are likely to encourage the use of more open source.

As the long-term move towards open source continues, our data shows that the recent economic downturn may be an accelerant. And as companies turn to open source for its cost savings benefits, we hope—as has occurred in previous open source migrations—they stay with open source for some of the other larger transformational benefits.

Want the full survey results in one report? Get them here now.

Read more about how we conducted the survey, see the survey demographics, and learn why we call it the managed open source survey.

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