The use of Linux is growing in the UK SMB market, According to a survey of 200 small and medium businesses (SMBs) in the UK, conducted in September this year by Vanson Bourne on behalf of IBM.
The survey indicates that 26 per cent of small businesses already deploy Linux. Of those not yet using Linux, 15 per cent said they are likely to use it in the future while a further 26 per cent were undecided, and the remaining 59 per cent had no current intention to adopt it.
The main reason given for moving to Linux was lower costs (38 percent of respondents), with performance, security and reliability at 23 percent. The major casualty in the migration to Linux is Windows, with 42 per cent of users having moved away from Microsoft Windows NT and Windows 2003 server environments, 23 per cent from Sun Solaris and 15 per cent from HP UX.
With SMBs the common areas of application for Linux are for file and print applications, web serving, hosting, caching, email systems and firewalls. However, the survey indicates that the role of Linux is spreading. 55 per cent of SMBs believe Linux is sufficiently robust to run mission critical applications and 40 per cent believe that Linux will become a core application operating system. Of the SMBs likely to invest in Linux in the next year, 15 percent will use it for mission critical applications such as ERP, SCM and CRM and 23 per cent will use it for business intelligence and data warehousing. Linux is clearly moving up the SMB value chain.
An interesting part of the survey was statistics on influencers. Apparently for SMBs, business partners (18 pe rcent), professional organizations (16 per cent) and consultants (15 per cent) were the most important sources of information on Linux. This is no different to what we might have expected, but it draws attention to an important aspect of the growth of Linux.
Across the world now Linux is viewed as a major revenue generating opportunity for the IT organisations that serve the SMB market - which, incidentally, is estimated to be half of the whole IT market.
The SMB market is not and has never been awash with money, so value is critical to the SMB and thus low cost computing is equally critical to the IT providers to the SMBs. However, both IT providers and customers are resistant to change in this market. That's why Novell didn't die away quickly when the trend was towards Windows. The trend is now clearly away from Windows, to what is perceived to be a less expensive and more robust server environment.