08.24.2006 By Shamus McGillicuddy, News Writer,

CIOs are taking over from those in the trenches and leading the charge into open source.

I think it’s not just a trend. I think it’s the natural evolution of the open source industry," said Alex Fletcher, lead analyst at Silver Spring, Md.-based open source research firm Entiva Group Inc. "At the beginning there was a ground-floor open source movement. You had source code and products that were really only suited for hands-on, highly technical people to use. Now you’re seeing more and more enterprise-ready open source applications."

Fletcher said CIOs are also beginning to realize open source is more than a "bubble" or "fad."

It’s part of a movement that is larger than open source. It’s more about open processes and transparent, community-based interaction. "What that’s doing is allowing the creation of a lot of high-quality IT assets," Fletcher said.

"It is shifting," said Raven Zachary, a senior analyst and head of the open source practice at The 451 Group in Minneapolis. "Enterprise adoption has been led by contributor, developers. Often they’ll use open source to solve a problem that’s too small to be on the radar of the CIO. Suddenly the enterprise is using open source technology. But a complimentary trend is that CIOs are being educated more and more about open source."

When discussing the value proposition of open source technology, many in the industry often mention costs savings first thing. But IT pros from the CIO down are beginning to recognize other advantages to open source adoption.

Experts say enterprise use of open source has long been the provenance of developers and other rank-and-file IT pros, but as open source matures and more enterprise-ready tools become available, CIOs are taking over, bringing a new top-down approach to adoption.