Linux Loses To Microsoft In Midsize Companies

Only 10 percent of midsize companies in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom plan to evaluate open-source Linux within the next three years, and only a portion of these will actually adopt it, Info-Tech Research Group said.

In addition, 48 percent of the more than 1,400 IT managers and chief information officers interviewed had no interest in Linux, and 15 percent weren't sure whether Linux had a place in their organizations, the Canadian researcher said. Just 27 percent of midsize companies surveyed were using Linux.

The study highlights the divide between large companies that have embraced Linux, and midsize companies that have shunned the operating system, which is available at no charge, Info-Tech said.

Large companies, defined by Info-Tech as having more $1 billion in revenue, generally have Windows and Unix operating systems, and are choosing to switch from the latter to Linux. Indeed, market research on unit shipments of Windows, Linux and Unix servers often shows the latter falling, whiles sales of the other two are growing.

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Midsize companies, on the other hand, mostly use Windows, and prefer to stick with one operating system, Info-Tech analyst Frank Koelsch said. Using a second system means increasing the complexity of the computing environment and hiring additional staff familiar with open-source software.

"Keep in mind that these are small shops and simple is better," Koelsch said.

Introducing Linux would mean addressing issues already taken care of in the existing Windows-based systems, such as networking, maintenance, support and disaster-recovery planning, Koelsch said.

"All of these issues become more complex with two operating systems, so free (Linux) becomes expensive when you look at the fully loaded cost of a second platform," Koelsch said.

Those midsize companies that have adopted Linux generally did so on the "perception" of cost savings from not having to buy software licenses, rather than the total cost of ownership, Koelsch said. In addition, many have been persuaded by aggressive marketing from vendors, or have decided on a specific use for Linux, such as running an email server.

For large companies, however, the economics change, since they often have thousands, if not 10s of thousands, of servers running a variety of applications. On such a large scale, the reduction in licensing costs may make Linux a good choice, especially if the company already has a large IT department, Koelsch said.

Info-Tech interviewed IT managers and CIOs in January. Its research was done independently, and not paid for by any vendor, Koelsch said.