Linux is making enterprise inroads, says MandrakeSoft

Reports may find that Linux is losing out in top companies, but they aren't getting the full picture, argues the distributor
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

Big companies are continuing to move many of their systems to Linux, despite reports that downplay the operating system's role in business, according to a prominent Linux executive.

Jacques Le Marois, president of Linux distributor MandrakeSoft, told ZDNet UK that such reports only get at part of the picture, because they fail to take into account Linux's status as open-source, freely-available software.

Even companies that don't have an official policy of using Linux are often running the OS for many of their systems, Le Marois said. Because Linux can be freely downloaded via the Internet, and doesn't require a licence, system administrators often install it without the need to go through any extra bureaucracy. "All these people at the lower levels are pushing Linux," he said.

Goldman Sachs this week released its first information-technology spending report, based on a recent poll of 100 executives from Fortune 1000 companies that, in part, asked about highest and lowest spending priorities. "Areas like supply-chain management software and Linux servers rank near the bottom of spending priorities," wrote Goldman Sachs analysts Rick Sherlund and Laura Conigliaro. The results brought "some surprises from our IT managers, with Linux... virtually not registering on our survey."

About 65 percent of executives polled by Goldman Sachs said they have no plans to use Linux at their company next year. Twenty-four percent of respondents said they would use Linux as an addition to their Windows and Unix setups, but not as a replacement. And only 3 percent see Linux as their primary enterprise server system within three years; 60 percent named Windows.

MandrakeSoft co-founder Frederic Bastok suggested that executives aren't planning to spend money on Linux because it simply doesn't require the levels of expenditure and maintenance that Windows does.

MandrakeSoft, SuSE and Red Hat have all released new editions of their Linux distributions, which focus on making the software easier to install and use, even for beginning users.

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