Australia’s first Open Source Census published

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Australia’s first Open Source Census published

Results of Australia’s first large-scale Open Source community census have been released to the public.

Produced by Open Source consulting firm Waugh Partners, the Australian Open Source Industry & Community Report gives voice to the business potentials, patterns and concerns of a previously mute sector of the IT industry.

“This is a first step towards addressing some of the misconceptions and lack of information about Open Source in the Australian market,” said Jeff Waugh, co-founder and co-director of Waugh Partners.

“We were also keen to learn more about the relationship between the industry and community, and understand the industry's need for skills and education,” he told iTnews.

Waugh raised the issue of a commonly-held misconception around what is perceived to be a lack of support and services for Open Source in Australia, despite the international recognition of the Australian Open Source community.

Far from the stereotype of students coding from darkened rooms of their parents’ homes with half-eaten slices of pizza in hand, the census found that Open Source developers tend to be well-paid professionals who service a growing market.

Boasting a “very strong”, “rapidly growing” local market for Open Source in both private and public sectors, the census listed property and business (which includes ICT), education, health, retail and government as industries that are most serviced by Open Source currently.

The report expounds what it says is an industry responsibility to tackle the $21 billion trade deficit generated by the ICT industry. Most of the deficit is derived from equipment necessary for the productive use of ICT in the country, the report says.

“We feel that the ICT industry has a responsibility to address the ICT trade deficit, by creating innovative solutions to sell to the world, but also to deliver productivity gains to Australian business and government,” Waugh told iTnews.

“It is a topic we have raised [to industry and government bodies] on numerous occasions in the past, to some interest. The key issue from our point of view is that Open Source -- the technology and methodology -- has enormous potential for Australian research, innovation and productivity.”

“It's not just a technology issue though -- open innovation, collaboration, and access will be absolutely necessary to keep our small population ahead of the game,” he added.

Open Source was suggested as an export avenue to offset a part of the trade deficit. Currently, 45 percent of the open source industry service export markets, generating revenue of $60 million, the report says.

Furthermore, export services that are based on open source generally sidestep the need for software royalty imports, which the report estimates to amount to more than 40 percent of the ICT trade balance deficit.

The report was sponsored by research organisation NICTA, as well as IBM and Fujitsu.

“The census results are important to IBM and Australian businesses as they prove that the OSS [Open Source Software] industry in Australia has matured,” IBM’s Lotus Competitive Solutions Executive, Kevin Wilson, said in the report.

“Simple facts such as 46 percent of respondents gained 70 percent or more of their revenue from Open Source activities suggest that Australian businesses are already taking advantage of what OSS has to offer.”

The Australian Open Source Industry & Community Report is available for download from Waugh Partners’s Web site.

Looking forward, the firm has planned qualitative research inspired by the industry and community report, including investigating the use and teaching of Open Source skills in Australian educational institutions, and the impact of Open Source in Australian research and development.

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