Is open-source software in decline in HigherEd?

As Phil Hill mentioned in his post, there are a lot of discussions about the possible decline of open-source systems in HigherEd.

Even if the discussion arose from a learning association in the United Kingdom, we will only be looking at numbers from US and Canadian HigherEd Institutions. 


  • Because we want to explore this question across multiple systems groups. We have been tracking these systems in North America for a longer period of time.

  • And also because our dataset is more complete in North America. 


To create this week’s visualizations, we have considered the following systems for each product category:

Product Category State of Open-Source Products Versus Proprietary List of Products we consider Open-Source
Business Intelligence (BI) Often used in classrooms but not at the institution’s level. Actuate BIRT, Jaspersoft, Pentaho, RStudio
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Limited market share HubSpot
Email Losing market share. Mainly because they are fighting against free email services by Microsoft and Google Zimbra, Roundcube, SquirrelMail, Active Mail, Cyrus, Kerio Connect, SoGo
Finance Systems Limited market share Kuali Financial Systems, Odoo
Grants Systems Peaking Coeus, RSmart
Learning Management Systems (LMS) Decreasing market share Sakai, Moodle, OLAT, ILIAS, DoceboLMS, Claroline, Chamilo, ATutor, Caucus, Blackboard OpenLMS, Dokeos, Latitude Learning, Loom, Open eClass, Uzity, VClass
Library Systems Increasing market share Kuali, Koha, Evergreen, OpenBiblio, FOLIO, OPAL, TIND ILS, Sebina Open Library
MOOC Steady market share for the past five years edx
Student Information Systems (SIS) Limited market share Kuali, openSIS, EduTrac, Fedena

The graph shows the market shares for each product category.

Open-Source in EdTech.png

 A few observations:

  • In 1998, open-source products were mostly found in emails and grants. Twenty years later, email systems are practically gone and new categories have emerged: library and MOOCs.

  • The library systems are the only open-source product where we can see an increase in the market shares.

  • A new category that emerged in 2011, the MOOC category, sees a market share of almost 20 % for the past five years.

  • We did not track a significant market share in the CRM, Finance and SIS categories in 20 years.

We can ask ourselves if the non-increasing market share for open-source products is due to this new trend for proprietary software (like Salesforce or Instructure) to open up and create open-source add-ons or side projects?

Data Notes:
The data is institution-centric, which means that we count multiple campuses for the same system. We also only count primary systems. If a product is only used by one department or faculty within an institution, we will not include it in our market share.