If anyone wanted more evidence about the growing support for Open Source software, then Al Fresco’s just-released figures should engender a quick re-appraisal.

The UK-based company has recorded a hefty 61 percent rise in revenue over the past year, impressive figures at any time but at a time of financial retrenchment, when, as I’ve been told several times, “flat is good”. The company has not only increased its revenues by a healthy amount but it’s added some 300 customers and gone past the two million download mark.

It’s especially encouraging to see a British company doing particularly well - Alfresco is the sort of company that a future government should be looking to encourage. It’s a pity then that the company’s success has been achieved at a time when the company’s made little penetration in its own domestic market thanks to the UK Labour government’s suspicion of open source.

Al Fresco’s CEO, John Powell, was amused at Gordon Brown’s apparent conversion to the merits of open source. “How can Gordon Brown spout that stuff with a straight face when he’s been doing the polar opposite for 12 years,” snorted Powell with derision.

We were chatting about the Al Fresco results and I asked him what had been the reason for such a strong performance in a year when organisations were feeling the pinch. Interestingly, he thinks that the credit crunch may have played some part with more organisations looking to derive value for money. “We had a lot of people researching viability for particular projects by downloading the community version first” before adding that business picked up considerably in the second half of the year.Powell also believes that the company is benefiting from open source becoming more mainstream.

It certainly has and while the UK government has been slow to wise up to the usefulness of open source projects, it’s not been the same in the rest of the world where Alfresco has been racking up some useful wins. It's great to see a UK open source company doing well and Powell is bullish for the future, saying that he's set the bar "much higher" for next year. Perhaps, just perhaps, UK procurement will start catching up with the rest of the world.



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