3 Companies Using Open Source


It’s very interesting to note that a recent study revealed that approximately 85 percent of companies globally are using open source software. Not surprisingly, the main motivator for using open source software is cost. Other indicators point to the fact that this software provides companies protection from becoming locked into a single vendor.

However, major corporations and companies are also engaging in the open source development process. This process is known for its group collaboration efforts, with many different developers working on a single product or software. The end result is often much more successful than those with only a few developers working on a project.

Here is a look at some major corporations that have embraced this development philosophy with very successful results.


Procter & Gamble Co.

Imagine a world-renowned company changing the way it conducts its research and development processes. Procter & Gamble, one of the largest corporations in the world did just that. The company moved from a traditional research and development style to one that follows the open source strategy. Interestingly, Procter & Gamble calls this new strategy “connect and develop.” Following the lead of the open source initiative, the company is reaching out to the collective minds around the world. One of the goals of this new initiative is that 50 percent of the new products in development must come from sources outside of its own laboratories.



BMW Group embraces the open source development theory within its new car development projects. Team members, who can number in the hundreds, are gathered together from their home bases to work at BMW’s Research and Innovation Center. These team members include personnel from wide ranging departments including design, marketing, purchasing and others. These team members then collaborate, sometimes for as long as three years, to develop and create the new car’s prototype design. These sometimes disparate-thinking groups collaborate in an open source environment, trading and sharing ideas, all with the end goal of creating the very best new automobile design.


Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines recently gathered team members from across the company. These included employees in dispatch, operations, flight and crew members and others. This group was asked to come up with a set of changes that could be implemented to create changes in the airline’s operations.

Eventually the group came up with 109 ideas that were then presented to upper management. Tom Nealon, Southwest’s chief information officer stated that there was a diverse group of people working on this crucial project. He also indicated that because some group members asked questions that might seem rudimentary to others, the group actually had to do a much closer examination of their ideas and solutions. It made the group challenge themselves to look at the big picture from a different angle.


The idea of group collaboration has worked for many years with in the open source software community. Now more and more large and small corporations and companies are embracing this philosophy with some amazing results. By proof of these three examples, they are met with great success and acceptance.


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  1. Lori Mehen's Gravatar Comment by Lori Mehen on March 2nd, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Stephen, Nice article. I love to hear about companies using the open source philosophy beyond technology. I’m a account manager at Red Hat working to capture similar stories for http://ope­nsource.co­m. The entire site is dedicated to how open source and the open source way is applied beyond technology. It’s an open conversati­on that looks to highlight many of the things you mention here.

    We’ve seen how sucessful the open source philosophy has been in technology­, and those same principles are making huge improvemen­ts in our government­, businesses, education, and many other areas. I think you’ll find our community a great place to find more stories like the ones you’ve mentioned. We always welcome new contributors too.

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