How much headway has Linux made into the SMB market? While the open source operating system has made some inroads with SMBs, it still has a long way to go to approach the popularity enjoyed by Microsoft.
A LinuxWorld article cites research from two consulting firms, AMI Partners and the 451 Group.
Some three years ago, AMI Partners found that about a fourth of companies with 100 to 249 employees were using Linux. More recently, nearly three-quarters of open source vendors told the 451 Group that SMBs accounted for less than half of their revenues. A third of them felt the SMB market would not contribute significantly to a future increase in their business.
Yet open source offers some clear benefits for SMBs, many of which are detailed in the LinuxWorld article. A product director with Avocent, which sells a Linux server management product geared toward SMBs, says Linux is especially appropriate for SMBs because it scales incrementally without a large upfront investment. Says the exec:
SMBs can tailor their enterprises to better fit their needs with Linux.
With Linux, SMBs can save money by using servers for a variety of functions, such as file servers and Web servers. Though additional hardware may be required as the number of users grows, SMBs incur no additional software costs when adding users with Linux.
Another open source vendor mentions that Linux is typically installed on the kind of commodity hardware that can often be purchased at the local electronics store. Other experts interviewed in the article mention a desire to avoid vendor lock-in and open source's strong record on security as drivers for adopting Linux.
Though the LinuxWorld article glosses over the complexity question (mentioning only that Linux server distributions are now more user-friendly, thanks to the addition of deployment and management functions), IT Business Edge blogger Lora Bentley notes that many SMBs are leery of Linux because of its perceived complexity. Yet open source vendors like Red Hat are working hard to allay those concerns.