Linux proves a winner Down Under

A recent survey in Australia and New Zealand has found that the use of Linux on servers has grown dramatically, but its share of the desktop market is still very small

A survey conducted by research giant International Data Corp. has found the use of Linux has exploded in Australian and New Zealand organisations.
IDC questioned 330 CIOs and IT managers about their use of and attitudes to Linux. The analysts found the percentage of respondents using Linux servers has nearly doubled since 1999, up to 32.4 percent. Organisations not using Linux are still in the majority, and the survey also found that 4.9 percent of respondents had actually rejected the use of the open-source platform.

Concerns associated with deploying Linux were also cited in the survey report, with 42.7 percent of organisations citing a lack of in-house skills as a factor, 37.1 percent citing a decision to consolidate on Windows 2000, and 36.8 percent concerned about the disadvantages of rolling out "yet another platform". The most common concern among the survey group was the lack of availability of applications for Linux, with 43.5 percent of CIOs and IT managers surveyed apprehensive about this.

IDC's director of user programmes, Catherine Bennett, told ZDNet Australia that Linux isn't being rejected as a matter of principle or strategy, and is likely to catch on as the market environment changes. "Clearly these results show that the objection to the widespread adoption of Linux is not primarily strategic," she said. "As the availability of appropriate skills and applications improves IDC believed that far more organisations will go down this path."

Bennett argues that as the open-source operating system has grown in popularity, traditional "philosophical" differences have fallen by the wayside, marking a shift in attitude likely to see Linux succeed in the top end of town.

"Should significant advantages then emerge from... evaluations, these organisations will be faced with a decision on whether to extend its use to at least their Windows servers," Bennett said. "At that point this survey shows that there would not appear to be philosophical objections to stand in the way of widespread adoption."

While the survey reflected a boost in popularity as a server technology, the same could not be said for Linux use on the desktop. The survey found Linux/Unix and Macintosh continuing to be "relatively insignificant at the desktop, accounting for 1.2 and 1.7 percent respectively". IDC has predicted that Macintosh will continue to lose share, down to 1.4 percent, with Linux doubling its market share to 2.9 percent.