Scared or oblivious: Australia's SMEs on Linux

Australian SMEs aren't paying nearly enough attention to Linux considering the top priority for their IT managers is to "reduce costs", but despite the prevailing attitude, it won't take much for open source to have a far greater impact in the near future, according to research released today.

Australian SMEs aren't paying nearly enough attention to Linux considering the top priority for their IT managers is to "reduce costs", but despite the prevailing attitude, it won't take much for open source to have a far greater impact in the near future, according to research released today.

A new report has predicted that the use of Linux by Australian SMEs will continue to grow steadily with little to no effort on behalf of distributors, although only seven percent of small businesses and 14 percent of medium businesses have a full server deployment of the software.

"The Linux market continues to behave like a relatively young, highly dynamic industry and continues to reinvent itself as customer adoption activities become more mainstream and widespread. Linux cannot be underestimated in terms of overall market impact going forward," said Melissa Martin, senior market analyst, enterprise end-user programmes at research firm IDC.

The analyst claimed it is too dismissive to subject Linux to the same standards of success as its proprietary rivals, saying: "The success of Linux should not be measured purely in terms of deployment numbers ... it's not going to take over Windows but people should be thinking about it more."

She suggested that it should instead be seen as a "disruptive technology" that is enabling the adoption of an industry standard OS that is pervasively used across many different form factors.

"My main criticism is that people dismiss the idea too quickly," said Martin. "There's evidence to suggest that a lot of users find it scary and shy away from it because they don't think they have the in-house skills to deal with it."

"Ironically, it's all the big vendors like IBM and Dell who are throwing their support behind open source, but it's sad that some users are afraid of what they don't know," she said.

According to the report, 13 percent of Australian small businesses were not even aware of the existence of Linux.

"In this day and age, you'd think that some people had been hiding under a rock to hear a figure like that," she said.

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