Gartner Dataquest has pegged the proportion of Linux servers shipped in the United States at 8.6 per cent.
Gartner analyst Jeffery Hewitt claims that this figure - which includes 'white box' shipments, but excludes server appliances such as Sun's Cobalt range - is dramatically lower than the 20 per cent plus cited by arch rivals IDC. Of that 8.6 per cent, eight per cent is attributed to Red Hat and 0.6 per cent to other distros.
The survey is dated May 30, but was made public yesterday.
We don't usually hear about analyst surveys from vendors in advance of publication. But yesterday a note dropped in from Microsoft's PR company, Waggener Edstrom.
"8.6 per cent is... certainly in line with what we are hearing from our customers and partners," wrote a friendly Wagg-Ed flak.
Now there's some dispute over what a 'shipment' actually involves, as NewsForge's Rob 'roblimo' Miller points out in this analysis. And he has a very good point: for example, Gartner pegs Linux shipments in the supercomputer space as 'zero' this year. In fact Linux is well established on commodity parallel clusters at many scientific sites. Many of these were assembled in-house, so a shipment clearly doesn't correlate to a working installation.
However, Microsoft's pre-emptive strike may be tactical. Hewitt actually predicts that volume shipments of Linux - even using Gartner's contested definition of 'shipment' and 'server' - will mushroom in the next four years.
Total worldwide Linux deployment will quadruple from 2.4 million to 9.1 million, predicts Gartner, with explosive growth in the supercomputer area: up from that dubious 'zero' this year to over 5000 by 2005. In the $25,000 to $100,000 range - the low-end company workhorse - Linux shipments will increase ninefold. In the sub-$5000 space, Linux will grow over six fold.
So this may be a case of the Beast getting its retaliation in first. ®