Survey Reveals that Business Owners of Open-Source Crave Support the Most

By Nicole Hemsoth

July 1, 2013

By Gary Tyreman, Univa CEO

Most of us know that Open-Source software is continuing to penetrate today’s enterprises with the vast majority using it in some capacity, but there appears to be a new shift in the usage model. At Univa, we are seeing a number of enterprises move towards a supported software model. This is not an indictment of open-source, we have been told, but rather a sign of the challenges an enterprise faces without the availability of suitable support for mission-critical applications. This decision usually derives from senior management who understand that the risk of suffering downtime without the availability of support is unfathomable, renewing the focus on IT’s primary responsibility:  supporting business users.

It was this information that motivated us to commission an independent study to obtain insights from enterprise end-users at the director level and above. The key answer we sought concerned the motivation to add support to Open-Source and the factors that would engage that discussion. What we discovered was an interesting mix of both the expected and the surprising. 

As expected, our 2013 Open-Source Software Use survey found that Free and Open-Source software (FOSS) is prominent within businesses today, with 76% of companies using FOSS. It’s important to note that we only surveyed commercial entities, and then only more senior decision makers. This was to accomplish two things: first, to receive a business owner’s view, and second, to take the discussion away from one of technical merit and to direct insight into the thought processes around business risks.

What we found surprising was the high number of respondents that admitted to having experienced a problem with using FOSS, with 75% admitting as such. Clearly businesses are relying heavily on unsupported Open-Source solutions today, running the risk of using FOSS without the adequate support to call upon in their hour of need. It’s like waiting to buy fire insurance until after your house is on fire.

In our own business, Univa, we convert Open-Source users of Grid Engine, a distributed resource management software used across the globe for HPC and Big Data environments (a former Sun Open-Source development project), to our binaries and support. Yet, the percentage willing to pay for support that we have experienced with Univa prospects is much higher than averages that have been published prior to our survey. Our FOSS survey supported this fact with 64% saying that they would pay for supported software if it solved their problems moving forward. We’ll cover some of the rationale a little later in this article. First, let’s layout the rest of the survey findings.

View Infographic of the full survey Here

The lack of enterprise-grade support was the largest problem enterprise FOSS users experienced in their company with 27% of respondents raising it as their top concern. Other troublesome issues include usability (24%), maintenance (20%), crashes (19%), bugs (18%), downtime (16%), loss off productivity (16%) and interoperability (16%).

For those companies willing to pay for better quality, the following were listed as the key reasons to do so:

  • Stability (25%)
  • Enterprise-grade support (22%)
  • Ease of use (20%)
  • Extra functionality (18%)
  • Bug reports/fixes (15%)
  • Integrated solution (13%)
  • Product upgrades (13%)
  • Predictable lifecycles (13%)

The demand for stability and enterprise-grade support suggests that the comfort of reliability and quick access to know-how is the number one factor that leads to invest beyond Open-Source solutions. The key product development departments of a business where most mission-critical software resides – Engineering and R&D – rely most heavily on FOSS (32%).

This supports our experience. Univa’s software typically resides in the departments within large enterprises that drive product and service innovation such as engineering and R&D, which depend on expensive mission-critical applications. Whether that’s in an oil & gas company running reservoir analyses, a fabless semiconductor company trying to tape-out a new design or an automotive manufacturer simulating the crash-test of a $200,000 car, the risk of using FOSS without support is connected directly to the top line of business revenue.

Our product is middleware that sits between the operating system and the application. Since the majority of our revenue comes from the Engineering and R&D Departments’ IT budget, we can also draw a connection to the behavior across the broader software stack.  Our customers typically spend 10 to 20 times the amount on commercial application licenses that “require” a supported operating system such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It’s also common for these application vendors to certify workload management systems and specific configurations.

This is clearly different than some areas of the HPC ecosystem where applications are home-grown, so the risk and cost-benefit are not the same. In these situations we continue to see un-supported users across the entire software stack.

The key take away from this exercise is that while Open-Source is for everyone, it’s not for everything (or every use case) without an immediate path to quality assurances (stability) and enterprise-grade support, particularly when you consider areas in the enterprise where mission-critical applications require both supported stacks and configurations. What becomes a concern is the business outcome in the event of a failure when the application vendor denies support due to an un-supported configuration. That denial of service could be catastrophic and it’s why it’s better to buy insurance before you need it.

Gary Tyreman is the President and CEO of Univa Corporation the leading provider of enterprise workload and resource management solutions built around Grid Engine.

Survey Methodology

Sample was provided by uSamp, a premier provider of technology and survey respondents used to obtain consumer and business insights. This project was fielded from 3/14/2013 through 3/18/2013, collecting 128 completes from uSamp’s Whiteboard B2B panel. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

 

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

AMD Wins Another: Baidu to Deploy EPYC on Single Socket Servers

December 13, 2017

When AMD introduced its EPYC chip line in June, the company said a portion of the line was specifically designed to re-invigorate a single socket segment in what has become an overwhelmingly two-socket landscape in the d Read more…

By John Russell

Microsoft Wants to Speed Quantum Development

December 12, 2017

Quantum computing continues to make headlines in what remains of 2017 as tech giants jockey to establish a pole position in the race toward commercialization of quantum. This week, Microsoft took the next step in advanci Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ESnet Now Moving More Than 1 Petabyte/wk

December 12, 2017

Optimizing ESnet (Energy Sciences Network), the world's fastest network for science, is an ongoing process. Recently a two-year collaboration by ESnet users – the Petascale DTN Project – achieved its ambitious goal t Read more…

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Explore the Origins of Space with COSMOS and Memory-Driven Computing

From the formation of black holes to the origins of space, data is the key to unlocking the secrets of the early universe. Read more…

HPC-as-a-Service Finds Toehold in Iceland

December 11, 2017

While high-demand workloads (e.g., bitcoin mining) can overheat data center cooling capabilities, at least one data center infrastructure provider has announced an HPC-as-a-service offering that features 100 percent fre Read more…

By Doug Black

AMD Wins Another: Baidu to Deploy EPYC on Single Socket Servers

December 13, 2017

When AMD introduced its EPYC chip line in June, the company said a portion of the line was specifically designed to re-invigorate a single socket segment in wha Read more…

By John Russell

Microsoft Wants to Speed Quantum Development

December 12, 2017

Quantum computing continues to make headlines in what remains of 2017 as tech giants jockey to establish a pole position in the race toward commercialization of Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Iron, Soft, Data, People – It Takes an Ecosystem!

December 11, 2017

Cutting edge advanced computing hardware (aka big iron) does not stand by itself. These computers are the pinnacle of a myriad of technologies that must be care Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Microsoft Spins Cycle Computing into Core Azure Product

December 5, 2017

Last August, cloud giant Microsoft acquired HPC cloud orchestration pioneer Cycle Computing. Since then the focus has been on integrating Cycle’s organization Read more…

By John Russell

GlobalFoundries, Ayar Labs Team Up to Commercialize Optical I/O

December 4, 2017

GlobalFoundries (GF) and Ayar Labs, a startup focused on using light, instead of electricity, to transfer data between chips, today announced they've entered in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE In-Memory Platform Comes to COSMOS

November 30, 2017

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is on a mission to accelerate space research. In August, it sent the first commercial-off-the-shelf HPC system into space for testing Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC17 Cluster Competition: Who Won and Why? Results Analyzed and Over-Analyzed

November 28, 2017

Everyone by now knows that Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (NTU) took home the highest LINPACK Award and the Overall Championship from the recently concluded SC17 Student Cluster Competition. We also already know how the teams did in the Highest LINPACK and Highest HPCG competitions, with Nanyang grabbing bragging rights for both benchmarks. Read more…

By Dan Olds

US Coalesces Plans for First Exascale Supercomputer: Aurora in 2021

September 27, 2017

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, in Arlington, Va., yesterday (Sept. 26), it was revealed that the "Aurora" supercompute Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

NERSC Scales Scientific Deep Learning to 15 Petaflops

August 28, 2017

A collaborative effort between Intel, NERSC and Stanford has delivered the first 15-petaflops deep learning software running on HPC platforms and is, according Read more…

By Rob Farber

Oracle Layoffs Reportedly Hit SPARC and Solaris Hard

September 7, 2017

Oracle’s latest layoffs have many wondering if this is the end of the line for the SPARC processor and Solaris OS development. As reported by multiple sources Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Showcases Growing Portfolio of EPYC and Radeon-based Systems at SC17

November 13, 2017

AMD’s charge back into HPC and the datacenter is on full display at SC17. Having launched the EPYC processor line in June along with its MI25 GPU the focus he Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Japan Unveils Quantum Neural Network

November 22, 2017

The U.S. and China are leading the race toward productive quantum computing, but it's early enough that ultimate leadership is still something of an open questi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

GlobalFoundries Puts Wind in AMD’s Sails with 12nm FinFET

September 24, 2017

From its annual tech conference last week (Sept. 20), where GlobalFoundries welcomed more than 600 semiconductor professionals (reaching the Santa Clara venue Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last w Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

Amazon Debuts New AMD-based GPU Instances for Graphics Acceleration

September 12, 2017

Last week Amazon Web Services (AWS) streaming service, AppStream 2.0, introduced a new GPU instance called Graphics Design intended to accelerate graphics. The Read more…

By John Russell

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

EU Funds 20 Million Euro ARM+FPGA Exascale Project

September 7, 2017

At the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre on Wednesday (Sept. 6), 16 partners gathered to launch the EuroEXA project, which invests €20 million over three-and-a-half years into exascale-focused research and development. Led by the Horizon 2020 program, EuroEXA picks up the banner of a triad of partner projects — ExaNeSt, EcoScale and ExaNoDe — building on their work... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Delays, Smoke, Records & Markets – A Candid Conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro

October 5, 2017

Earlier this month, Tom Tabor, publisher of HPCwire and I had a very personal conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro. Cray has been on something of a Cinderell Read more…

By Tiffany Trader & Tom Tabor

Tensors Come of Age: Why the AI Revolution Will Help HPC

November 13, 2017

Thirty years ago, parallel computing was coming of age. A bitter battle began between stalwart vector computing supporters and advocates of various approaches to parallel computing. IBM skeptic Alan Karp, reacting to announcements of nCUBE’s 1024-microprocessor system and Thinking Machines’ 65,536-element array, made a public $100 wager that no one could get a parallel speedup of over 200 on real HPC workloads. Read more…

By John Gustafson & Lenore Mullin

Flipping the Flops and Reading the Top500 Tea Leaves

November 13, 2017

The 50th edition of the Top500 list, the biannual publication of the world’s fastest supercomputers based on public Linpack benchmarking results, was released Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Software Tools to Ease FPGA Programming

September 5, 2017

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) have a reputation for being difficult to program, requiring expertise in specialty languages, like Verilog or VHDL. Easin Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This