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If ever there was a year to demonstrate why open source software is a smart choice for businesses, 2011 has surely been it.

In the proprietary arena, patent wars have raged out of control, while the old “security through obscurity” theory has been proven wrong. Piracy has continued unabated around the globe, the mobile arena has become increasingly locked down, and the possibility of a new generation of Windows 8-only PCs looms on the horizon.

Threats to software users' freedom are coming fast and furious, in other words, making the open source alternatives--with all their myriad benefits for businesses and consumers--look better than ever.

Attention from Senior Management

There tends to be a pretty steady stream of data illustrating the growing use of open source software in businesses, and just the other day a new set came out.

Specifically, the data comes from a survey of South African companies recently performed by ITWeb and open source vendor Linux Warehouse. The results are published on ITWeb, and though they don't specify the exact number of respondents, the results echo those from numerous other such studies in recent months.

First, the majority of respondents voted “overwhelmingly” that open source software is at least as good if not better than proprietary in terms of features, performance, ease of use, tools and utilities, documentation, technical support, cost of ownership, scalability and ease of change, the report notes. Most respondents came from medium and large organizations, it adds.

Roughly a third said that open source software is just as secure as proprietary counterparts, and operating systems were the core area in which companies said they were most likely to deploy open source software.

Perhaps most telling of all is that the survey's authors reported growing attention to open source software from senior management, with about 60 percent of the survey's respondents holding C-level positions.

A Smart Choice for Business

Now, a company like Linux Warehouse is of course going to have a vested interest in seeing results like these, as is the Linux Foundation, which frequently publishes similar data of its own. It's harder to argue, however, with open source vendor Red Hat's skyrocketing financial results and the preferences of the Department of Defense, for example.

Bottom line? Just as openness is a growing trend in governments and organizations around the globe, so too is it emerging as a smart choice for businesses that care about retaining control of their computing environments.

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