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Linux Is Reaching New Heights in Enterprises, Study Finds

Cloud computing and 'Big Data' are driving business use of Linux at the expense of Windows and Unix

Global economic woes may continue to dampen spending forecasts for IT departments around the world, but that isn't stopping large companies from adding more Linux servers to their operations.

In fact, a full 80 percent of respondents to a new Linux Foundation survey said that not only have they added Linux servers in the past 12 months, they also plan to add more in the next 12 months and over the next five years.

Only 21.7 percent of respondents are planning an increase in Windows servers and more than a quarter are actually planning to decrease the number of Windows servers they use in the upcoming five years, reports the Linux Foundation, which released the results of its survey on Thursday.

The report is a follow-up to a similar study published in October 2010, and its results paint an even rosier outlook for Linux. A copy of the full report can be downloaded from the Linux Foundation's site, which has a full-size image of the infographic below.

Growing Mission-Critical Use

Entitled "Linux Adoption Trends 2012: A Survey of Enterprise End Users," the Linux Foundation's invitation-only survey was conducted in partnership with Yeoman Technology Group late last year. Though responses were received from nearly 1900 people, the report focuses on data from the world's largest enterprises and government organizations, as represented by 428 respondents at organizations with $500 million or more in annual revenues or greater than 500 employees.

More than 71 percent of such users said the majority of their new Linux depoyments over the past two years were for brand-new applications and services, while migrations to Linux came primarily at the expense of legacy Windows and Unix systems.

Almost 70 percent indicated that they plan to increase their use of Linux over the upcoming year for mission-critical workloads.

A Key Role in 'Big Data'

A big part of Linux's growth in large companies is due to today's cloud computing and “Big Data” trends, the Linux Foundation suggests.

When it comes to so-called Big Data, for instance, more than 75 percent of respondents expressed concern about supporting it, and nearly 72 percent are choosing Linux to do that. By contrast, only 35.9 percent said they plan to use Windows to meet the demands of this new environment.

Asked about their reasons for choosing Linux, respondents cited total cost of ownership (or TCO), “feature set,” and overall security as the top three benefits it offers. Linux's top-notch security, in fact, was widely agreed upon, with more than two-thirds of respondents indicating that they consider Linux more secure than other operating systems.

Lack of vendor lock-in, openness of the code, and long-term viability were other top reasons that respondents cited.

Compared with the first Linux Foundation survey on this topic, respondents to this second one said that they also see fewer issues standing in the way of Linux's success. Technical issues were cited by just 12.2 percent--a drop of 40 percent since 2010--while the number of respondents citing management perception as an issue dropped by 22 percent, the foundation says.

A Powerhouse on Servers

Of course, it's important to keep in mind that the respondents to this survey included the Linux Foundation's Enterprise End User Council and other invited participants, so they're not likely to be representative of enterprise users across the board, as the foundation itself points out.

Still, the data provide an interesting snapshot of Linux use in some of the world's bigger companies. Linux has long played a key role on servers, in particular, and that strength appears to be growing.


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