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Information Week Report: Linux is Cheaper, More Reliable and Secure, Encourages Innovation
Thursday, October 13 2005 @ 04:41 PM EDT

I was reading Information Week's report [PDF] on the Linux market. Information Week Research conducted a study to measure corporate use of Linux and Open Source software in January 2005. The results are stunning. "Nearly 90% of companies we surveyed anticipate a jump in server licenses for Linux. No other product comes close to these expectations not Windows, Macintosh or Unix." The report predicts that "Linux server and PC licenses are expected to climb dramatically over the next two years, due in part to the perceived need for an alternative to Windows."

And why this need for an alternative? A combination of three factors, lower costs, reliability and worries about security issues in Microsoft's products seem to be the dominant drivers:

How widely deployed is Linux? Well, nearly half of the sites we interviewed use Linux on servers or PCs. Twenty-three percent have rollout plans for the next 12 months. Another 23% although using open source products have no current plans for Linux. Low cost and the lack of licensing fees are the primary reasons why companies deploy Linux on PCs and servers. However, concern about the vulnerability of Microsoft products is also speeding up Linux adoption. Of the sites using Linux on PCs, 73% are doing so in response to Windows security issues while 69% seek an alternative to Windows. Two-thirds of sites state that Windows security concerns are driving Linux adoption on servers while nearly three in five server users want another option to Windows.

Many Linux sites cite its reliability, performance, and wide availability of development tools on the Web. Linux reliability is mentioned as a key adoption driver by more companies in 2005 than it was 2 years ago.

That's interesting, isn't it, that the wide availability of development tools on the Web is driving Linux adoption in the enterprise? They have evidently clued in that they can tweak and innovate with FOSS to particularize solutions custom-made for them in-house.

I also found the following sentence intriguing:

Two years ago a major hurdle in the use of Linux was reliable support and service, but no more. Companies are either providing training for their IT workers or have hired full-time employees with Linux expertise.

Every Get the Facts study I've seen warns that Linux costs more, because of alleged increased service and support costs. From the Information Week study, it seems 1) that it isn't holding anyone back and 2) businesses figured out a solution, and 3) people who have actually made the switch say Linux is cheaper anyhow:

For years, Linux advocates have touted the open source operating system as a less-expensive, more reliable alternative to Unix and Windows. Respondents in this study agree that Linux is less expensive. At least seven in 10 sites report that Linux is cheaper to operate than mainframe systems, Windows NT, Windows 2000 servers, Windows XP servers and Commercial Unix servers. Companies also say Linux is a cheaper PC option than Commercial Unix, Windows XP or Macintosh. Only PC terminals offer some cost competitiveness. While 38% of sites say Linux on PCs has a lower total cost of ownership than terminals, 45% say its the same, while 17% report that terminal costs are lower.

So much for "Get the Facts". Maybe "facts" isn't the right word to use. I suggest any new "independent studies" take this into consideration, because it's bound to tip even their scales. Microsoft's FUD said it would cost more to run Linux than Windows, but the overwhelming majority of those who switched contradict strongly. The earth is not flat, and Windows is not cheaper than Linux, according to this report.

The report also wanted to find out if SCO's litigation is holding back Linux adoption. The majority said no, but 7% said yes, and one in 10 said it's too early to know. So when it's time to calculate figures for Lanham Act damages, here's one concrete figure. Pilot testers at the surveyed companies reported a higher level of concern, however.

Here is something interesting about innovation:

One thing business-technology professionals believe about open-source software: It provides more opportunity for innovation than commercial or proprietary software. Two-thirds of the 439 business technology professionals we surveyed in January 2005 contend that open-source spurs more opportunities for technical innovation. Half (47%) say it encourages business innovation.

There's a chart on page 6 that tells what hurdles remain. Respondents were asked what problems they've encountered after switching to Linux, and it looks like nearly 30% said none at all. The biggest hurdle reported was technical knowledge of personnel, the fixable problem, followed by compatibility issues with "existing software." Now, if somebody, like the EU Commission, for example, could just get Microsoft to allow easy interoperability with "existing software", we'd be cooking with gas.

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