Mid-Sized Businesses Not Hot on Linux

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When it comes to Linux, many small and mid-sized businesses are saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.” A new independent survey conducted by Info-Tech Research Group, which involved more than 1,400 firms that report $1 billion or less in annual revenue, showed that 48 percent had no interest in considering the open-source operating system anytime in the near future.


“That was somewhat surprising to us,” said Frank Koelsch, Info-Tech’s executive vice president of corporate strategy and research. “Only 10 percent of respondents said they would evaluate Linux in the next three years. Fourteen of the respondents said they didn’t know. When we look at the response set, if we add the 48 and 14 percent, that would be roughly 62 percent that are generally not interested in Linux.” He added that 27 percent of participants in the study said they had installed Linux as either a primary or secondary operating system.


“It would be higher in the Fortune 1000 companies,” he said of the approximately one-quarter of respondents using Linux. “Almost all of these companies would have a Microsoft operating platform and are bringing in Linux as a second operating platform. We’re finding Linux is used for e-mail platforms and as an open database platform for non-mission-critical applications like MySQL. There are specifically good applications for Linux in a multi-operating-system environment.”


Koelsch, whose company uses both Microsoft Windows and Linux, believes that most of these companies have taken a business-oriented approach in their evaluation of the latter OS, and concluded the benefits involved with either adding it or switching to it are simply not worth the investment. “It’s purported to be freeware, but it really isn’t free,” he said. “There are significant costs and additional complexity in having to support two operating platforms. What they have to do—given that they’re small shops with limited budgets, staff and scale—is consider hiring additional people or training up existing people and absorbing the complexity of operation. I think a lot of the mid-sized companies looking at the total picture tend to shy away from that additional overhead.”


However, Koelsch added that the lack of enthusiasm on the part of small and medium-sized companies should not be viewed as an implicit endorsement for Microsoft Windows, the current market leader. “It’s a recognition of Microsoft being in place,” he said. “I would say that it’s a recognition of the very large installed base of Microsoft, and the complexity and the costs of either moving away or adding a new operating platform.”


In certain circumstances, Linux can bring substantial benefits to businesses that don’t fall into the Fortune 1000. Thus, small and mid-sized businesses should continue to weigh the costs and advantages that can come from implementing Linux as a stand-alone or complementary OS, and not just dismiss it out-of-hand. “I think Linux is a serious technology that’s worth evaluating,” Koelsch said. “There are niche applications where some people find (Linux) brings value to them, even as a second operating platform. When you’re looking at a high volume of PCs, then the licensing costs add up to the point where it does make financial sense to adopt Linux.”


For more information, see http://www.info-tech.com.

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