Support is major Linux worry for the enterprise

Open source tools are becoming more common in large businesses, but analysts say that a perceived lack of service and support options could hold back growth

While there can be no doubt Linux-based solutions are making inroads into enterprise-level software and server markets, concern over service and support could be holding back further growth, according to analysts and industry pundits.

"It is fundamental to our business operations to create applications independent of all operating systems," explained Grant Straker, chief technology officer of Australian developer tools vendor Straker Interactive. "More and more companies are using a combination of platforms and operating systems."

However, while Straker says he has seen a substantial increase in the diversification of operating systems, he believes the continued growth of open-source offerings is being hampered by concerns over the level of support available.

"There are no issues with the technology, and the stability of the technology," Straker said. "The only thing the enterprise is worried about is the level of support they can access."

Having researched Linux adoption across the Asia-Pacific region, Gartner analyst Matthew Boon agrees with Straker, pointing out that although rates of Linux adoption continue to grow, enterprise is unlikely to adopt a company-wide Linux implementations until they are confident the support mechanisms are in place.

"We are seeing Linux adoption increase, especially as the low-cost argument comes into play, however, research we (Gartner) conducted earlier in the years indicated there are still issues with services support and training," Boon said.

However, Chris Sharp, regional sales director for Linux distributor Red Hat approaches the problem from a slightly different angle, saying the problem is not one of a lack of support, but rather that companies are not aware where to obtain the support they require.

"We haven't done so well at jumping around and telling everyone that we are here and can offer them all the support they need," Sharp said, going on to say he believed the perception of a lack of support for Linux implementations was beginning to change.

"With companies like IBM and IBM GSA now walking around talking about Linux it is becoming a lot more mainstream," Sharp said. "People are starting to look for Linux solutions once they know the support is out there for the software."

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