Open source is finally grabbing a real foothold within organisations according to new research from Accenture.

The consultancy, not previously renowned for its support for open source software, found that ) more than two-thirds of organistions in the US, UK and Ireland, expected to increase investment in open source this year, with more than a third (38 percent) expecting to migrate mission-critical software to open source in the next twelve months.

Half of the 300 organisations surveyed are already committed to using some form of open source software, while nearly a third are actively experimenting with the software.

Perhaps the most stark statistic of all is that almost nine out of ten (88 percent) organisations already using open source will increase their investment in the software in 2010 compared to 2009.

The move towards open source is not being driven by cost savings, as was the case a few years ago but by an increased interest in reliability and quality of software, 76 percent of respondents cited software quality as the main reason for going down the open source route, while 71 percent claimed improved reliability was the main factor.

"What we are seeing is the coming of age of open source," said Paul Daugherty, chief technology architect, Accenture. "Through both our research and our work with clients, we are seeing an increase in demand for open source based on quality, reliability and speed, not just cost savings. This is a significant change from just two years ago when uptake was driven mainly by cost savings. We can expect to see this trend develop as open source continues to evolve and address even more business critical functions."

It's not all rosy: according to the survey, twice as many organisations in the US than in the UK are going to increase their investment in open source software. And a whopping 40 percent of UK organisations cited the lack of open source training as an inhibiting factor, a factor that was mentioned by none of the US respondents.

"I think the difference between the US and UK over the coming year is entirely down to the fact that the US is emerging from the recession earlier than us," said Mark Taylor managing director of open source software house Sirius IT. "I think that's pure economics and you'll see the same sort of figures for proprietary software too. As for the training issue – that's something we don't see at all. We do see concerns about support so perhaps that's got mixed with training as an issue."

Overall however, Taylor found the survey reflected Sirius's own findings. "This definitely reflects what we've found in our own survey – reliability and quality are important. Our experienced users are also using open source software in more sophisticated ways. You do hear comments about cost, but these are usually from inexperienced open source users."