Linux and open source have not only provided the enterprise with a wealth of new code, they've also transformed the way organizations write software by promoting collaborative software development across the channel. That's according to the latest report from the Linux Foundation.

Collaborative software development means programmers within different organizations work together on a common codebase that benefits all of them. The Linux Foundation, the non-profit consortium for promoting Linux and open source software adoption, calls this strategy "a new business model ... in which companies are joining together across industries to share development resources and build common open source code bases on which they can differentiate their own products and services."

To demonstrate the impact of collaborative development on the channel, the Linux Foundation released a report on March 26 that surveyed 686 software developers and business managers from across the world on the way their organizations develop software. Among its major findings:

  • There is a growing trend among executives and business managers to view collaborative software development as a driver of innovation within their organizations and as an important part of business strategy. Nearly 80 percent of such respondents in the survey reported that collaborative development has become a more important part of their business strategy in the last three years.
  • Many businesses plan to invest more heavily in collaborative development. 44 percent of business managers and executives indicated they will increase their invesment in collaborative development in the next six months, while no respondents to the survey expected to decrease what they have already invested in such initiatives.
  • Collaborative development is popular with the coders themselves, 83 percent of whom said that collaborative development provides them access to new tools and development practices.

Collaborative development—as the Linux Foundation is keen to point out—is nothing new. It is a model for organizing software creation that Linux kernel developers pioneered beginning in the early 1990s, when isolated programmers started to work collaboratively on the core Linux code. But collaborative development is a newer idea for enterprises that have long borrowed open source code from third parties, yet rarely involved external developers in the production of their own internal code. That is now changing, if the Linux Foundation's report is any indication.

The complete report, which was based on survey data collected in early March 2014, is available for free download.