Linux adoption in the enterprise is slowing down? Not so fast says one analyst firm, which took a closer look at a report that showed Linux adoption slowing from the significant growth rates of the past few years.
In early September, global financial firm UBS released the survey results of its quarterly snapshot of CIOs, and the numbers were not good for Linux – or were they?Entitled “CIO Pulse: A Quarterly Snapshot of IT Trends”, the report suggested that Linux adoption on the server was slowing significantly.According to the report, which surveyed “more than 60 CIOs,” 90% of respondents that are not using Linux today would not deploy that operating system in 2007.
The number is up 3% since January when UBS asked participants the same question, and is significantly higher than the 60% number seen in 2006. It all adds up to a seemingly downward trend for Linux, but is the honeymoon officially over?Not just yet, according to a conflicting report released by Westport, Conn.-based Saugatuck Research this week.
“Though the UBS research is sound, the data as reported do not indicate the true health and growth of Linux — and of open source operating systems in general,” said the report’s author and Saugatuck Technology managing director, Bruce Guptill.
Citing his firm’s own research, which was drawn from surveys of IT managers and decision makers throughout 2007, Guptill said that contrary to the findings at UBS, Linux adoption in particular — and open source adoption in general — is healthy and growing at “phenomenal rates.”
The disparities between the UBS reported findings and Saugatuck’s own data are based on the following key contextual differences:
- UBS spoke with 63 CIOs who may or may not be aware of investments made down at the process, project and departmental levels within their enterprises — which is where Linux server investment and management is typically found. Saugatuck finds that such server investments are frequently “invisible” to CIOs, as they frequently are tactical and low-cost. In our most recent worldwide survey with over 200 IT and business executives, Saugatuck found that hands-on IT executives and managers often have more/greater visibility to server investments. As previously reported by Saugatuck, the presence of Linux, and much open source software, is often hidden or unaccounted for, especially in larger enterprises (see Saugatuck Strategic Perspective Open Source Vendor Perspectives: It’s Real, It’s Hidden, and It’s Bigger Than You Think, STR-370, 07Jul07).
- The UBS numbers as reported seem to emphasize new Linux deployments, although that point is not specifically stated in the report. “Declining rates of growth, especially in new deployments, do not necessarily indicate that the market itself is declining — they often indicate that the base market itself is growing,” Guptill said. Saugatuck data indicates that fewer than 20% of user enterprises do not yet have Linux or other open source operating systems installed in mainframe or server environments. In sum, UBS reported data from a small and shrinking population. The real growth for Linux — and for other open source software — will be within the vast majority of enterprises that have already deployed it, but have limited deployments to date for a variety of reasons.
- Finally, the UBS data as reported looked only at servers. In Saugatuck’s research experience, “servers” are typically thought of by CIOs as x86-based platforms. Given the resurgent growth of mainframe sales and their rapidly increasing use as servers (including in virtualized environments), Saugatuck has combined x86 server and mainframe platforms in its data collection. And our latest data indicate that adoption and deployment of Linux (and other open source operating systems) is rapidly growing at server and mainframe levels, as well as at desktop and mobile device levels. SearchEnterpriseLinux.com reported on this earlier in the week in Low-cost Linux revives the mainframe (again)
The bottom line: Linux growth will slow, yes, but only in numbers of new-enterprise deployments. It would be impossible to sustain double- and triple-digit adoption growth over the long term, Guptill said.
Through at least 2012, the use and presence of Linux — and other open source software — will continue to increase at double-digit rates within enterprises already deploying it as executives within these enterprises realize the business value of open source and invest heavily to expand and extend what they increasingly see as a competitive advantage. Linux growth will be further encouraged by traditional IT and SaaS vendors promoting more Linux-compatible solutions.
But Guptill sees a bigger question for user enterprises today: Are CIOs paying enough attention to open source growth within their firms? To focus on Linux by itself is a red herring for most. CIOs need to engage in audits of open source presence. Nearly 60% of IT executives surveyed by Saugatuck report auditing and confirming the presence of open source in their firms. This is a key step toward effectively managing this increasingly strategic IT within existing IT governance.
What do you think of the questions he raised? Is open source “hidden” in today’s enterprise environments?