Data shows down economy spurs Linux adoption

A Novell-sponsored IDC survey reveals a surge in the acquisition of Linux driven by the worldwide recession. More than half of the IT executives surveyed are planning to accelerate Linux adoption in 2009. If that’s not positive enough, more than 72% of respondents reported that they are either actively evaluating or have already decided to increase their adoption of Linux on the server in 2009, with more than 68% making the same claim for the desktop. The study surveyed more than 300 senior IT executives spanning manufacturing, financial services, and retail industries across the globe, as well as government agencies. The survey results are a good update to the fall 2008 Purchasing Intentions survey we conducted that hinted the economy would impact Linux adoption.

Linux has been gaining ground in the enterprise, as was seen with Red Hat’s impressive results from 2008. We said back in January that open source would do well in a down economy, and now there’s data to back up the prediction.

In the IDC survey, the leading reason given for migrating to Linux was an interest in lowering ongoing support costs. More than 40% of survey participants said they plan to deploy additional workloads on Linux over the next 12-24 months and 49% indicated Linux will be their primary server platform within five years. (Is anyone else surprised by that number?) Among those hesitant to adopt Linux, lack of application support and poor interoperability with Windows and other environments was cited as the primary concern, indicating the key areas that need more work. Companies have made great strides where interoperability is concerned, but clearly more work needs to be done before Linux can gain more ground. We have covered Red Hat’s recent interoperability agreement with Microsoft, Canonical’s effort’s toward certification on HP servers, and reviewed the leadership of Novell in interoperability efforts. But, clearly the market needs more assurance that Linux will meet their critical business needs.

Key to the recent interoperability efforts has been virtualization. This is a good move according to the survey results as nearly half of respondents stated that moving to virtualization is accelerating their adoption of Linux. A notably high, 88% of those surveyed plan to evaluate, deploy or increase their use of virtualization software within Linux operating systems over the next 12-24 months. An increase in virtualization uptake was seen in our 2008 Purchasing Intentions survey, which revealed that virtualization interest was influencing server purchases.

In our recent newsletter, we asked readers to tell us what’s missing from all of these agreements. We encourage you to share your thoughts here. What would you like to see in terms of specific application support or capabilities? What’s missing from the interoperability landscape?