SMBs fuel Linux adoption in India

Spurred by demand from small and midsize businesses, Linux server OS gains market share in country but still unlikely to unsettle Windows platform, new report reveals.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

Windows is still the server platform of choice in India but enterprises, especially small and midsize businesses (SMBs), are increasingly favoring the Linux operating system, according to a new report Monday by Springboard Research.

Between April 2009 and May 2010, overall Linux server OS adoption in India increased to 8.1 percent from 7 percent, and continues to rise, Springboard said in a statement. The study was based on data compiled from 408,756 servers in the country.

The Windows Server platform, on the other hand, currently has a 91.8 percent share in India's enterprise market, with Windows Server 2003 accounting for 70 percent of adoption.

By verticals, Linux installations in India were highest in the engineering, energy and entertainment industries, noted the Springboard report. Adoption has also picked up in the non-profit, education, government, banking, financial services and insurance and telecom sectors.

The main growth drivers for Linux adoption in the country were low cost of ownership, perception of fewer security threats, lack of piracy-related issues and a strong online support community, Springboard said.

Strong demand by SMBs
Linux, the analyst firm said, particularly appeals to budget-constraint SMBs seeking technologies that can help them meet their business goals at a lower cost. Adoption in the SMB segment, defined by Springboard as having ownership of less than 1,000 systems, climbed 8.3 percent within the reporting period, compared to 6.9 percent for large enterprises.

"An interesting trend that has gained momentum in the recent past is the SMB demand for customized solutions," Sameer Bhatnagar, senior research analyst at Springboard, said in the report. "Today, enterprises look for products and solutions specifically designed to meet both theirs and their customers' needs and open source solutions offer that flexibility."

"Also, high technical skill availability is one of the key accelerators of greater Linux adoption in India," Bhatnagar noted.

SMBs in India lead their Asia-Pacific peers in server adoption, according to a study released in April. Conducted by Springboard in partnership with Spiceworks, the survey also revealed that Linux uptake in the region registered at about 25 percent higher than in the United States and grew faster than the worldwide average.

However, Manish Bahl, Springboard's director for India and research operations, noted that despite Linux's gains in the SMB market, it is "still only a distant threat" as Microsoft platforms continue to monopolize the server OS market in India.

"Many customers are not convinced of Linux support for mission-critical business requirements," said Bahl. "To make headway in the large enterprises segment, the priority should be to increase Linux awareness by building an ecosystem of ISVs (independent software vendors) that support deployment while training partners for better reach."

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