Support Costs Fueling Linux Interest: Report

In a February survey of 300 global senior IT executives in the manufacturing, financial services, retail and government sectors, IDC found that 72 percent are either looking at or have already decided to boost their Linux server deployments this year, and 68 percent are doing the same with desktop Linux.

Overall, about 40 percent of executives said they'll be moving more workloads to Linux over the next one to two years, and 49 percent believe Linux will be their main server platform within five years, according to the survey. Eighty-eight percent of respondents intend to evaluate, deploy or increase their use of Linux-based virtualization software within the next two years.

The top reason executives cited for the decision to migrate to Linux was to lower their organizations' ongoing support costs, according to the survey, which was sponsored by Novell, distributor of Suse Linux.

Despite the Novell ties, solution providers say they're seeing steady Linux growth, and many are positioning broader Linux adoption to customers as a possible path for surviving a recession that doesn't look to be going away anytime soon.

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Frank Basanta, director of technology for Systems Solutions, a New York-based integrator, has seen a "major upswing" toward Linux in recent months, and he expects his overall Linux business to grow between 20 percent and 35 percent this year. "Depending on what kind of support offerings vendors provide for these platforms, that could go even higher," he said.

A similar trend exists when it comes to open-source applications that support Microsoft Windows. Before the downturn, Corra Technology, a Montclair, N.J.-based Linux solution provider, was deploying about 65 percent of open-source applications in a Linux environment, but that number has now climbed to 80 percent, said Corra CEO Ron Bongo.

Concerns over application support and interoperability with Microsoft Windows continue to slow Linux adoption in some segments of the market, the survey noted. But if the current economic malaise drags on, it's possible that those worries could dissipate in a cloud of hard, economic reality.