Linux: Moving from the Fringe to the Center

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

The State of Linux Adoption

Linux momentum continues to build despite a challenging 2011.

One of the popular perceptions about Linux is that somehow the open source operating system is the IT equivalent of the anti-establishment candidate. But a funny thing usually happens to almost every anti-establishment trend given enough time: It moves from the fringe to the center.

If a recent survey of 428 respondents at organizations with $500 million or more in annual revenues or greater than 500 employees conducted by The Linux Foundation is any guide, that's exactly what's happening with Linux. Although different distributions of Linux are more accepted by mainstream IT organizations than others, the server makes it clear that large numbers of mission-critical applications and new application workloads are finding their way onto Linux platforms. Part of that expansion can also be attributed to independent software vendors pushing Linux adoption if for no other reason than it leaves more of the IT budget available for application software licenses.

As a result, within a lot of IT organizations, Linux has become the default platform as a way to save money. But the respondents also said that Linux was technically superior to other operating systems and provided much higher levels of security.

Obviously, the majority of the respondents to this survey are naturally biased towards Linux. But Amanda McPherson, vice president of marketing and developer programs for The Linux Foundation, notes that the popularity of Linux is starting to have an effect in other areas as IT organizations become more comfortable with open source software. Ranging from the Google Android operating system on mobile computing devices to any number of applications that run on Linux servers in the cloud, open source technologies are now being received warmly by corporate IT departments.

That doesn't mean there still aren't any issues. The survey finds that there is still a perception issue among a lot of senior executives when it comes to open source. The respondents also said that interoperability issues and finding enough skilled IT talent are significant issues.

Nevertheless, at this juncture it's pretty clear that Linux isn't an "alternative" operating system anymore, but rather a mainstream platform for deploying both commercial and open source applications across the enterprise.

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