Linux has come a long way since its creation by a Finnish student 22 years ago. While the debate over Linux on the desktop will no doubt raise its head every year, there’s no doubt that in the enterprise and web hosting spheres, Linux has made huge inroads, and, if a recent study from SUSE is accurate, the last vestiges of resistance to Linux are draining away.
While the web hosting industry has long embraced Linux as a secure and stable platform for Apache and its attendant software stack, other enterprise applications have lagged behind, as CTOs and other IT professionals relied on proprietary operating systems, including both non-Unix and Unix systems.
In the survey, carried out earlier this year, only 17% of IT professionals questioned reported that their organizations had no Linux server deployments. While most of the current deployments are web servers, a significant proportion also reported use for Oracle (6%) and non-Oracle (11%) database servers, as well as data warehousing, business intelligence, and customer relationship management applications. For all of these applications, many organizations are planning to increase their use of Linux in the future.
The most interesting results from the server concern future Linux deployment plans. Almost 80% of those asked said that they planned to deploy web servers on Linux over the next year, 63% that Oracle database deployment on Linux was planned, and significant percentages plan to deploy for other applications.
When asked which were the most important factors influencing the decision to use Linux, 61% cited security as being very important, with total cost of ownership, high availability, high performance, the avoidance of vendor lock-in, and the community ecosystem being among the other factors rated as very important.
SUSE vice president for global marketing, Michael Miller said that:
‘The relevant question today is not why or when you should be using Linux, it’s where you should be using Linux. Enterprises that are not actively considering Linux as the foundation of their data centre transformation or modernisation initiatives are in danger of being left behind financially and technologically.’
While a healthy skepticism of these results is reasonable given that the survey was carried out by a company that offers an enterprise Linux distribution and has an interest in talking up Linux for enterprise applications, it’s still an indication that larger companies outside of the web hosting industry are coming to a realization that web hosts have long understood. Linux is an extremely versatile and secure platform, and that compared to proprietary alternatives, TCO is lower and vendor lock-in less of an issue.