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The cloud’s silver lining: Linux adoption in a recession



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March 19, 2009 8:03 am

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The New York Times recently reported that some economists now think 2009 might be “like 1929, but worse.” Great. But you won’t find many open source advocates among the doomsayers, most of whom harbor the belief that OSS will actually thrive in a downturn. Their logic is that as a recession bites IT departments will rush to save costs and find value, with OSS providing plenty of both. At Novell we dubbed this the “Wal-Mart Effect” and decided to test the hypothesis by looking at how Linux adoption might fare in 2009.

We asked IDC to conduct a worldwide survey of more than 300 IT executives. The survey asked participants about their plans for adopting Linux in the current recession, and some of the issues that would accelerate or inhibit adoption. The survey looked at Linux adoption on both the server and the desktop and was conducted a month ago, in February 2009. Results are surprising:

  • Overall, more than half of the IT executives we surveyed are planning to accelerate Linux adoption in 2009 because of the worldwide recession. For the server, 53 percent will increase adoption, and for the desktop 48 percent.
  • Growth in Linux adoption is common across the world and in the verticals we looked at – government, financial, manufacturing and retail
  • On the server side, existing Linux deployments will grow in scope and scale, and for many organizations Linux will become the primary server platform. We found that 49 percent expect Linux to be their primary server platform within 5 years
  • On the desktop, we expect Linux to see much stronger adoption, especially for routine office workers, for technical workstations and in the higher education/K-12 market. Almost 50 percent of respondents will accelerate their adoption of Linux in 2009.

Virtualization and the move to cloud computing will further accelerate Linux adoption. To labor a bad pun, we may be under an economic cloud but the forecast is bright, with another technological cloud propelling Linux adoption in 2009 and beyond. You can get a complete copy of the IDC report here.

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