Euro firms cool on Vista and Linux

Microsoft's new OS is not thrilling large European companies just yet, but virtualisation seems to be taking off

European businesses are only considering migrating to Linux when they decide to deploy new applications, but most currently have no intention of moving to Windows Vista either, according to a survey released this week.

The State of Enterprise Infrastructure in Europe 2006, published by Forrester Research, found little enthusiasm for simply moving an existing IT system over to a Linux platform. It also suggests that virtualisation is starting to take off despite a lack of awareness among smaller companies.

"Moving existing applications from either Unix or Windows to Linux is unimportant to more than two-thirds of the respondents, confirming that interest in Linux is more often linked to deployment of new applications [as planned by 12 percent of respondants]," the report reveals, while noting that 54 percent of firms had "no plans at this stage" to move to Windows Vista, Microsoft's upcoming operating system (OS).

Twenty percent of firms interviewed are planning to wait up to two years after release before deploying Vista. The report points out that this level of interest is far behind that in North America, suggesting this shows "greater resistance to the Microsoft product strategy from users in the European market". However, the authors also suggest that confidence in Vista will increase as IT developers evaluate the final or close-to-final releases.

Remarkably, 35 percent of Windows-based PCs in European enterprise are still running either Windows 2000 or an even older version of the system. The report calls this "a high figure considering the IT imperatives around improving security, manageability, and reliability".

Forrester interviewed 302 IT decision makers from European firms, with half the firms comprising 1,000 to 4,999 employees, 28 percent with 5,000 to 19,999 employees and 22 percent with 20,000 or more.

The report also shows that, on average, more than a third of enterprise IT budgets are spent on hardware and maintenance, including servers, PC storage and networking. More than half (55 percent) of the businesses surveyed use HP servers — followed by IBM, Dell, Sun and Fujitsu Siemens respectively — and 60 percent deal with only one server vendor.

It seems that, as many companies are working to reduce the number and variety of server hardware and OS configurations they use, "a healthy 23 percent of firms are using server virtualisation and more than 25 percent are either piloting it (12 percent) or interested in it (16 percent)". However, nearly 25 percent of companies are unaware of server virtualisation and 38 percent know nothing about computing grid technology.

"This segment probably consists of smaller companies where the technologies have less relevance, but it also demonstrates that the vendors have a significant marketing challenge," the report's authors suggest. Around a third of companies surveyed were, however, interested in storage virtualisation.

Other findings included a "general trend of replacing corporate desktops with laptops" and the fact that 40 percent of companies will invest in email archiving within the next two years.

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