Survey: Linux still gaining traction in the enterprise

These days, I don’t hear many industry analysts talking about the “year of Linux on the desktop”—that’d be a bit hyperbolic, with Linux distributions commanding an aggregate usage share of less than 1%, according to Net Applications. In the enterprise, though, interest in Linux is booming. So reports PC World, citing a survey by the Linux Foundation and the Yeoman Technology Group.

The survey, which gathered responses from 1,900 organizations, reveals a whopping 76% have plans to add extra Linux servers within the next year. Only 41% have similar aspirations for Windows servers… and 44% actually intend to maintain or decrease the number of Windows servers they use. If you look at a five-year time frame for upgrades, the balance shifts further toward Linux: 79% of organizations say they’ll add Linux-powered servers within the next half decade, compared to only 21% for Windows servers.

As icing on the cake for Linux vendors, the survey found that 60% of respondents are “planning to use Linux for more mission-critical workloads than they have in the past.”

Why such an interest in the open-source platform? The survey asked respondents about that, and it found that their motivations were, in order of importance: no vendor lock-in, the openness of the source code, the platform’s long-term viability, and the greater choice of hardware and software.

Comments closed
    • Anonymous Coward
    • 9 years ago

    I changed jobs some years ago to a Windows shop, and man I miss the Linux boxes. Windows makes a lame server. FROWN.

    • Anomymous Gerbil
    • 9 years ago

    Reply fail.

    • ultima_trev
    • 9 years ago

    I work at an undisclosed company in the Fortune 500, and our Linux processing is non-existent. We have several thousand Windows 2003 Server VMs, a few AIX or HP-Ux clusters, however most of our processing is actually done on mainframe. Client/Server FTL!!!!

    • herothezero
    • 9 years ago

    Nothing wrong with Linux, but Linux is only free if your time has no value. RH support is pretty good, and their builds are reliable and you can count on the stability of the builds over time. It’s hard to say that for other distros–that and the fact that everyone and their brother has “the best” distro, whatever that means.

    Relying on “the community” for support is a death sentence for an enterprise IT support group. We run a handful of FreeBSD/RHEL systems in a 14K employee company, all in an appliance capacity, and they’re great. But it’s the lack of certainty and concrete support options (to say nothing of applications) that keep a lot of business married to M$.

      • ew
      • 9 years ago

      Yes, if you want someone else to do the support for you it will cost you money. If you want to do the support yourself then Linux can be a very good choice.

        • blastdoor
        • 9 years ago

        You forgot “if your time is cheap”

          • just brew it!
          • 9 years ago

          Once you’ve familiarized yourself with how Linux works, it shouldn’t take any more time than supporting Windows. In many cases, it will actually be less.

      • just brew it!
      • 9 years ago

      I run Linux (Ubuntu and Debian) as both a desktop and server OS at home and work. I can honestly say that I spend /[

      • PenGun
      • 9 years ago

      This is the hooker argument. It’s cheaper to pay for sex than have a real relationship.

      • SNM
      • 9 years ago

      Your time doesn’t have to be cheap for supporting Linux in-house to be preferable. I don’t know any web hosting providers who out-source their server management/troubleshooting. 😀

      • eloj
      • 9 years ago

      Well, your time doesn’t become free just because you buy Windows or OSX or Solaris or whatever, so it’s still “gratis + time” < “$mucho_dinero + time”.

      The idea that linux (especially on the server!) is ‘harder’ and takes more of your time is a complete fallacy, typically grounded in the idea that “yeah, but I want to hire only the cheapest most incompetent people”.

        • stdRaichu
        • 9 years ago

        +1. All enterprise Linux make verbose logs, and are very good at telling you exactly what’s gone wrong. Error messages are, on the whole, much less cryptic than anything you’ll ever see in windows and the OS itself goes wrong alot less.

        Heck, the first exam of my RHCT was being given a broken RHEL box and told to fix it inside an hour; I managed to do it in six minutes, would have been less if I’d not made a typo in the bootloader.

        Linux is only hard if you’re ignorant of how it works; likewise, I’d find OSX “hard” as I’ve very little experience with it. But any sysadmin worth their salt will have at least some familiarity with linux, and it’s practically mandatory for those of us in the square mile.

    • StuG
    • 9 years ago

    Where I work Windows is the minority. I would say upwards of 90% are Linux based servers 🙂

    • PeterD
    • 9 years ago

    – no vendor lock-in -> ok, I understand
    – the openness of the source code -> ok, I understand
    – the platform’s long-term viability -> hmm, I don’t really understand, but I think I get the point
    – the greater choice of hardware and software. -> what?

      • Trymor
      • 9 years ago

      l[<- the greater choice of hardware and software. -> what?<]l Thats what I was thinking, but if you look only at 64bit Win7, then I can maybe see the point.

      • maxxcool
      • 9 years ago

      I’m willing to bet they are referring to Solaris hardware, PPC hardware, HP-unix hardware and the other “big iron” devices witch makes great sense.

      • just brew it!
      • 9 years ago

      Windows is x86/x86-64 only (well OK MIPS and ARM too if you count WinCE, but those are not particularly relevant for enterprise users). Linux runs on pretty much /[

        • Sahrin
        • 9 years ago

        Other than maybe one day ARM, all the other platforms you mentioned are irrelevant to the commodity server world. x86 is effectively (that is, by market share and purchase intent) the only server platform in existence, especially for new servers (though it remains to be seen whether ARM will be relevant in the future).

          • SNM
          • 9 years ago

          Uh, no. Many areas continue to migrate to x86, and certainly for *web* servers it’s the winner, but big iron continues to run on SPARC, Itanium, and PowerPC. It’s not just due to legacy costs, either; these architectures have their advantages.

            • reactorfuel
            • 9 years ago

            Look at Top500, the biggest iron of all. x86 derivatives make up the lion’s share of the list, and keep increasing. The biggest, baddest supercomputing site in the world – the Cray XT5 Jaguar at NCCS – runs on Opterons. Other architectures do have their own advantages, of course, but x86 is a huge player even at the very top end of the market.

            • Shining Arcanine
            • 9 years ago

            That is not “big iron”. “Big iron” systems are mainframes. Today’s super computers are cluster designs built around commodity hardware, which is why you see x86 used extensively in them today.

      • StashTheVampede
      • 9 years ago

      Greater choices of hardware/software is the real key for linux. Not mentioned in that report (but still VERY relevant) is how well VM consolidation and migration is going.

      Install ESXi and you have no issues managing VMs between linux, Windows, etc. Linux VMs play “nicer” than Windows VMs, so it’s very comforting rolling out/cloning more linux machines for everyone to play with.

      Now that you have virtualized your data center, you are less vendor specific with your setup. ESXi loves HP hardware, but it is just fine on Dell servers and a myriad of other vendors.

      Virtualization is a huge reason why linux is gaining adoption in data centers.

        • Corrado
        • 9 years ago

        Only recently has it become easy enough to run mission critical Linux VMs on esx. The way Linux keeps time made it nearly impossible to keep valid time in a vm without restarting ntpd every hour. My rhel5.3 machines would drift over a minute every two to three days. 5.5 + distro specific vmware tools have only recently made it usable (still a 2 second drift over a week). And since Linux ntpd does not have a provision to resynch with the ntp server without restarting the whole service, you need a script to kick the service in cron.daily to keep it proper. I had to build a local ntp server and synch everything to it. Big pain in the balls.

    • Xenolith
    • 9 years ago

    The desktop is fading. Owning the desktop won’t be that great of a prize in a few years.

      • StuG
      • 9 years ago

      Pretty sure this was in reference to servers, why bring this up?

        • indeego
        • 9 years ago

        Because it isn’t in reference to servers. The cliché is “This will be the year of Linux on the desktop.” But in fact, Linux skipped “the desktop” and went straight mobile.

        It appears Microsoft will own the desktop, and Android is on a path to own the mobile market, arguably much more important a market.

        If Microsoft cared about the mobile world, we would have seen Windows phone 7 in 2006, when the threat was very apparent to their mobile platformg{<.<}g

          • blastdoor
          • 9 years ago

          I don’t think Android will “own” mobile in the same way that Windows owned the desktop. No way will Android have 95% of the mobile market. Also, don’t count MS out of mobile. The very fact that WP7 will end up with the best mobile MS Office & Sharepoint implementation means that WP7 will find a market.

          In five years I’ll bet the mobile market is fairly evenly split between between Android (perhaps number 1, but not by any huge margin), iOS, and Windows. I suspect Nokia and RIM will have switched to Android or Windows as their OS by then.

        • Xenolith
        • 9 years ago

        The opening paragraph is about the desktop.

          • StuG
          • 9 years ago

          I felt like the opening paragraph was just that, and not really anything of subject. Still kinda feel that way, this article is about server growth for Linux really. Hence the confusion about your statement.

    • Corrado
    • 9 years ago

    My problem with Linux is still the cost. If I wanted to switch my servers to all RHEL, with proper support and patching etc, its $87 per year per server, even if you don’t upgrade said server version. Sure, a Win2k8 license costs more up front, but its a 1 time fixed cost that you can write down. The RHEL is an ongoing expense. Over a 5 year life cycle, that ‘free’ OS costs me just shy of $400. Over 5 years, Windows only costs me $150 on MS’s OpenLicense program.

    Now, thats not to say I don’t have a place for some RHEL machines, cuz I do. We have about 20 RHEL boxes running Oracle, OpenSSO, and some custom applications. But we also have about 500 Windows 2k3 servers running LOTS of other stuff.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    *nix will NEVER supplant windows. It’s simply not possible. too may issues with usability. GUI inconsistencies, and who wants to learn command line?

    • Anomymous Gerbil
    • 9 years ago

    You can’t have that discussion without considering the use of Linux to replace Solaris (and other OSes). To discuss only Linux and Windows shows a lack of understanding of the enterprise.

      • flip-mode
      • 9 years ago

      You can talk about almost any two things in isolation if you frame it properly.

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        Your mom, and my bedroom. FRAME THAT!

        BANNED!

          • flip-mode
          • 9 years ago

          My mom is waiting for you to finish with your mom.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            Don’t worry, I won’t be long.

            • flip-mode
            • 9 years ago

            That’s what she said.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            damn skippy.

            “2 minutes in heaven is better than 1 minute in heaven” –Jermaine

      • stdRaichu
      • 9 years ago

      Damn straight; we’re supposedly a windows-only shop, but we’ve actually got about twenty beefy linux boxes running in the background*, and this is going to raise to fifty or so with the next 18 months.

      Mostly it’s because we’re transitioning a bunch of our oracle kit (and some MSSQL databases) from AIX onto RHEL, but we’re also replacing half the extranet with linux boxes because they’re more secure – not to mention the cost savings.

      * Not to mention all the devices that already run linux, like our SANs, KVMs, firewalls…

      • flip-mode
      • 9 years ago

      Actually if you click through to the article, the survey does include Unix.

        • Anomymous Gerbil
        • 9 years ago

        Yep, but I was more referring to the Tech Report summary article.

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